WBC titleholder Danny “Swift” Garcia and WBA titleholder Amir “King” Khan begin the road to determine the next great junior welterweight.
Both seek to replace Timothy “Desert Storm” Bradley as the recognized king of the 140-pounders. Bradley now dwells with the 147 group.
Khan (26-2, 18 KOs) and Garcia (23-0, 14 KOs) are eager to meet in the ring on Saturday July 14, at the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino in Las Vegas. Both are promoted by Golden Boy Promotions. HBO will televise.
Let’s look first at Khan.
The fellow from United Kingdom has patrolled the junior welterweight division for several years. It was 2009 when he captured the WBA title with a 12-round decision over Andriy Kotelnyk. The former 2004 Olympian Silver medal winner has sped past many adversaries like a runaway Ferrari roadster.
Last December’s loss to Lamont Peterson blew a flat tire on Khan’s roadster dreams. The irregular officiating and scoring in that fight resulting in a loss by split decision shut down carefully crafted plans for Khan’s future.
Basically it was a crash.
An expected rematch with Peterson was scrapped when the Washington D.C. fighter tested positive for a banned substance. Ironically, it was Peterson who asked for Performance Enhancement Drug testing, a form of testing not required by Nevada State Athletic Commission.
“I thought there was a chance of me fighting him (Peterson) to settle the score properly,” said Khan during a telephone conference call. “I wanted to put things straight.”
Khan’s promoter Golden Boy Promotions did not want to cancel the date. They looked around and decided that their other junior welterweight Garcia had proven ready to step into the “A-list” of prizefighters.
“He made his debut against a future Hall of Famer when he defeated the Mexican warrior Erik Morales,” said Oscar De La Hoya, president of Golden Boy Promotions. “He’s an exciting fighter and a tremendous puncher.”
When Garcia knocked down Morales this past March and muscled past the former multi-division world champion from Tijuana to win by unanimous decision, he set himself right in the path of a number of boxing’s best fighters pound for pound. Khan is currently considered one of the best boxers in the world at any division.
Others loom large too, like Argentine roadblocks Marcos Maidana and Lucas Matthysse. It can be a cruel world.
“I knew my division is a tough division with a lot of talent. The opportunity came across and you got to fight the best,” said Garcia, 24, who is also promoted by Golden Boy. “The champion has got to fight the best and I’m ready to perform.”
Khan’s greatest fighting tool has been his speed. Most experts consider his bullet like hand speed as peerless and his foot speed is not far behind. Speed, speed, speed has taken the British prizefighter to the mountain top.
“He’s a lot like me, with speed and power,” says Garcia, no Volkswagen Bug by any means.
Though many consider Khan to be the quicker and faster of the two, it’s not discernible to the naked eye.
“He’s a similar fighter. Danny is strong and we have similar speed. And also with him being orthodox it helps,” says Khan, 25, about fighting Garcia. “The game plan sort of changes. But we know what to do.”
Beating former world champions like Morales, Kendall Holt and Nate Campbell showed Garcia has talent. Exceptional talent.
“Every fight you learn something different. You grow more confident. Every fight you grow in a different way,” says Garcia quite aptly.
On Saturday, the world will see who has the faster engine and who can make the turns.
Fights on television
Fri. ESPN2, 6 p.m., Glen Johnson (51-16-2) vs. Andrzej Fonfara (21-2).
Sat. Fox Deportes, 7 p.m., Janeth Perez (15-0-2) vs. Riyo Togo (8-2-1).
Sat. HBO, 8 p.m., Amir Khan (26-2) vs. Danny Garcia (23-0).