By Keith Idec
Sammy Vasquez realizes he has a difficult fight in front of him Saturday night.
Fellow southpaw Felix Diaz replaced an injured Luis Collazo on two weeks’ notice and the 2008 Olympic gold medalist from the Dominican Republic could provide the stiffest test of Vasquez’s career in a 10-round fight FOX will televise from Legacy Arena in Birmingham, Alabama. The undefeated welterweight from suburban Pittsburgh hopes, however, that defeating Diaz (17-1, 8 KOs) will lead to a shot at unbeaten WBC welterweight champ Danny Garcia.
The 30-year-old Vasquez (21-0, 15 KOs), of Monessen, Pennsylvania, is ranked No. 9 by the WBC among its welterweight contenders.
“I have a pretty good opportunity to get a world title fight,” Vasquez told BoxingScene.com. “I would take anybody, but I’m in the WBC [rankings] and that’s the one we’re shooting for. Danny Garcia has that one. As long as he keeps it, that would be a pretty good fight because of the fact that he’s from Philly and I’m from Pittsburgh. That would be a battle of Pennsylvania-type thing. It would definitely be marketable.”
The 28-year-old Garcia (32-0, 18 KOs) hasn’t fought since scoring a relatively easy victory over former four-division champion Robert Guerrero (33-4-1, 18 KOs, 2 NC) on January 23 at Staples Center in Los Angeles. Garcia won that 12-rounder by unanimous decision (116-112 on all three scorecards) and captured the then-vacant WBC world welterweight title.
Vasquez noticed in that bout that Garcia’s power was more effective when he competed at 140 pounds than it is against 147-pounders within the welterweight division.
“I don’t think his power matches up to what it did at 140,” Vasquez said. “If you look at the Guerrero fight, he was catching Guerrero clean with some shots and it didn’t even faze Guerrero. He was walking right through those. Danny doesn’t throw a lot of punches, especially in that [Guerrero] fight. Later in the fight he started to pick it up a lot more.
“I think it’d be a really good fight between us. We’re both exciting fighters. He’s a very respectable fighter. A lot of people could say a lot about him picking easy fights and all that stuff. But at the end of the day, people are still tuning in to watch him, he’s still winning and he’s doing what he needs to do to make his career successful, and he’s still a world champ.”
Keith Idec covers boxing for The Record and Herald News, of Woodland Park, N.J., and BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.