by Cliff Rold
The welterweight division never seems to cool down. Look backwards and try to find the last time the well had truly run dry.
It’s hard to find a stretch of more than a year or two when someone in the race for mythical honors as the best fighter in the world isn’t fighting at 147 lbs. When there is some depth around them, it’s a good time for all.
Neither of the men fighting Saturday night is in that particular race but they have been a steady presence in the field with losses only to the top of the class. One of them is going to move forward to face a Keith Thurman or Errol Spence. The other might not fall too far in line in this battle for the vacant WBC belt.
Showtime (9 PM EST) could have a gem on their hands here.
Let’s get into it.
Stats and Stakes
Previous Titles: WBC super lightweight (2012-15, 5 Defenses); WBA “Super” super lightweight (2012-15, 4 Defenses); Lineal/TBRB/Ring World Jr. welterweight (2013-15, 1 Defense); WBC welterweight (2016-17)
Height: 5’8 ½
Weight: 146 ¾ lbs.
Hails from: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Record: 34-1, 20 KO
Press Rankings: #4 (ESPN, Boxing Monthly), #5 (TBRB), #6 (Ring, BoxRec)
Record in Major Title Fights: 7-1, 2 KO
Last Five Opponents: 152-14-3 (.908)
Current/Former World Champions/Titlists Faced: Nate Campbell UD10; Kendall Holt SD12; Erik Morales UD12, KO4; Amir Khan TKO4; Zab Judah UD12; Lamont Peterson MD12; Paul Malignaggi TKO9; Robert Guerrero UD12; Keith Thurman L12; Brandon Rios TKO9
Previous Titles: IBF welterweight (2013-14, 1 Defense)
Weight: 147 lbs.
Hails from: Las Vegas, Nevada
Record: 28-2-1, 17 KO
Press Rankings: #4 (TBRB, Ring, BoxRec), #5 (ESPN, Boxing Monthly)
Record in Major Title Fights: 2-2, 1 KO
Last Five Opponents: 121-11-2 (.910)
Current/Former World Champions/Titlists Faced: Julio Diaz D10, UD10; Devon Alexander UD12; Paulie Malignaggi TKO4; Kell Brook L12; Adrien Broner UD12; Keith Thurman L12; Andre Berto TKO9
The Case for Garcia: Garcia has seen a little bit of everything in his career and doesn’t seem to panic no matter whom he’s in with. Against a Porter, that calm and ring maturity will be important. Porter is going to attack; Garcia has to be ready to counter. Garcia’s best chances will come with some room so his feet will matter as much here as his hands. If he lets Porter get inside and stay there, it could be a long night. If he can time the occasionally lunging attacks of Porter, he will find a fighter who can be caught. It’s not just the left hook either; Garcia has a good right hand and sound head movement. Keith Thurman beat Porter largely by using his aggression against him, moving smart, and landing more clean shots. Garcia can find a template he can use there
The Case for Porter: Porter is a skilled mauler who sometimes can be his own enemy. Against Garcia, he has to smother without smothering himself. The more controlled version of Porter can be a painful experience. He isn’t a huge knockout guy but he lands on what is available and makes opponents stay on defense more than they like. Porter has to respect the power of Garcia and can’t let himself be caught blind. Garcia has had issues with fighters who don’t let him control the range of a fight. Brandon Rios did better than anyone expected earlier this year and was a shell of himself. Mauricio Herrera used pressure and volume to disrupt Garcia all night. Porter is more aggressive than Herrera, if a little less refined, but he’s strong as an ox and Garcia is going to be forced to exert all night to slow him down. Garcia isn’t always a heavy volume puncher and if Porter can stay on the front foot, he may win through sheer volume.
The Pick: In the generation of fighters immediately before this one, bantamweight and Jr. featherweight Paulie Ayala was a world class fighter who had luck on his side as much as talent. Ayala was a very good fighter; steady, fundamentally sound, and willing. He was even better at getting the judges to favor him. With a little twist of fate, he’s a guy with a few more losses and a less distinguished career. Garcia is sort of the modern equivalent. With a little less luck, fights like Ashley Theophane, Mauricio Herrera, and Lamont Peterson could easily have gone the other way. That has to weigh in any fight that looks close on paper. Garcia can be a tough guy to win decisions against but Porter does a lot of the things that can help him. Porter can be a smothering force and Garcia needs room to land his left hook. The physical strength and more consistent attack of Porter should be enough to overcome here and win a good fight.
Additional Weekend Picks
Kazuto Ioka Dec. McWilliams Arroyo
Aston Palicte Dec. Donnie Nietes
Juan Francisco Estrada TKO Felipe Orucuta
Rold Picks 2018: 27-11
Cliff Rold is the Managing Editor of BoxingScene, a founding member of the Transnational Boxing Rankings Board, and a member of the Boxing Writers Association of America. He can be reached at [email protected]