By Lyle Fitzsimmons
Danny Garcia gets it.
Though he’s a Philadelphia fighter with the requisite old-school mentality, the now-31-year-old understands the reality of modern boxing nearly two decades into the 21st century.
Meaning that while he’d prefer to go straight into another career-defining championship scrap, he’s fully aware of outside-the-ring games that need playing before such things occur.
Such are the circumstances that he’ll be contending with on Saturday.
Five weeks after one welterweight carried a pay-per-view show in a football stadium – and within minutes of another who’ll top a Madison Square Garden marquee – Garcia will try to keep his place in line against rugged gatekeeper Adrian Granados at Dignity Health Sports Park in Carson, California.
The fight will headline a PBC on Fox show that’ll begin at 8 p.m. ET.
An hour later, the Top Rank PPV card supporting Terence Crawford’s defense against Garcia TKO victim Amir Khan gets underway in midtown Manhattan.
“It used to bother me, but now I know it’s a business,” Garcia told Boxing Scene.
“I understand that now. It’s all about timing. You just have to let everything play out, and then when the opportunity comes you’ve got to take advantage of it.
“If it’s next, it’s next. If I have to wait, I’ll wait. When it’s meant to be, it’s meant to be.”
It’s only the sixth time in seven years he’ll enter a ring without a title at stake, and it’s his first time in action since dropping a narrow nod to Shawn Porter for the vacant WBC crown last summer.
That fight was one removed from Garcia’s first career loss, by similarly tight numbers, to Keith Thurman.
Not surprisingly, the man dubbed “Swift” feels like neither L was warranted.
“I felt like I had two great performances. I felt like I won both fights, especially the Porter fight. I felt like I definitely won that fight,” he said. “But you can always do better and you can always do more, and that’s what I plan on doing this Saturday – making sure I get a clean victory.”
He’ll arrive as the top contender to Porter, according to the WBC’s latest numbers, and is listed as the sixth-best 147-pounder by the Independent World Boxing Rankings – which include all fighters regardless of their sanctioning body titles or positioning.
He’s surpassed on the latter list by only IBF champ Spence – who topped Mikey Garcia in the aforementioned high-profile stadium event – along with WBO kingpin Crawford, Manny Pacquiao, Porter and oft-sidelined WBA champion Thurman, who’s fought just once since beating Garcia in 2017.
Garcia trails the same quintet, albeit in a slightly different order, in rankings from Ring Magazine.
And they’re all fair game when it comes to what comes next, because he doesn’t see anyone in particular – outside of himself, that is – as prohibitively preeminent.
“Whoever. Whoever,” he said. “They’re all exciting matchups. They’re all big fights.
“I don’t think any fight is bigger than any other. I’ve just got to go out and handle business Saturday, and then the future is bright. They’re all different styles. I think every fight equals out to a great fight. Most of them are all on the same level and it’s all about matchmaking. I don’t think there’s really a best one. A lot of guys are on the same level and only time will tell.”
He wasn’t at all surprised at the ease with which Spence outclassed Mikey Garcia, and he expects Crawford to handle Khan – whom Garcia stopped in four rounds in 2012 – though he allowed for the idea that the enigmatic Englishman could manufacture an upset.
“Amir’s a dangerous fighter. He’s fast,” Garcia said. “It depends what Amir Khan shows up. If a hungry Amir Khan shows up, determined, he can win the fight. But if not, then I see Crawford winning if (Khan) doesn’t come with the extra grit.”
Grit is a word frequently used alongside Granados, a 29-year-old Illinois resident of Mexican heritage who’s as well known for near-misses against Porter and Adrien Broner than for any of his 20 victories in a career that dates back to 2008.
In fact, he’s never won a fight that’s gone past eight rounds – most notably a 2015 TKO of then-unbeaten junior welter Amir Imam – and has additional majority/split losses against the likes of Felix Diaz (MD 10), Brad Solomon (SD 10), Frankie Gomez (MD 8) and Jose Juan Fuentes (SD 4).
Not to mention draws against the likes of Kermit Cintron and Lanardo Tyner.
Two straight wins have come since the Porter fight, however, albeit in a pair of fights in Culiacan, Mexico against dubious opponents with a combined record of 32-29-3.
“He has a big heart. I know he’s hungry. I know he wants to win,” Garcia said.
“So I’ve got to make sure that I’m 100 percent ready – like I am – and go in there and just dominate and control the fight like a true champion. I’m ready for 12 rounds.
“I’m ready to dominate him for 12 rounds. But if not, if the opportunity comes to land a big punch – or if he gets hurt and I can finish him – then I’d like to finish him.”
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This week’s legit title-fight schedule:
WBO welterweight title – New York, New York
Terence Crawford (champion/No. 2 IWBR) vs. Amir Khan (No. 2 WBO/No. 22 IWBR)
Crawford (34-0, 25 KO): Second title defense; Won by stoppage in nine of 12 scheduled 12-rounders
Khan (33-4, 20 KO): Tenth title fight (6-3); Unbeaten in five fights, all decisions, in welterweight class
Fitzbitz says: I’m a Khan fan. Have been for years. I want to find a way he can win. But, while I think he’ll perform well and push “Bud,” I can’t find the deciding factor in his favor. Crawford by decision (65/35)
Last week's picks: 2-0 (WIN: Lomachenko, Munguia)
2019 picks record: 28-3 (90.3 percent)
Overall picks record: 1,040-346 (75.0 percent)
NOTE: Fights previewed are only those involving a sanctioning body's full-fledged title-holder – no interim, diamond, silver, etc. Fights for WBA "world championships" are only included if no "super champion" exists in the weight class.
Lyle Fitzsimmons has covered professional boxing since 1995 and written a weekly column for Boxing Scene since 2008. He is a full voting member of the Boxing Writers Association of America. Reach him at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter – @fitzbitz.