With the recent retirement of pound-for-pound king Floyd Mayweather 49-0 (26), the WBC is going to set up a tournament to determine his rightful successor in the welterweight and junior middleweight divisions in which he held titles.
The most popular elimination tournament, all be it underwhelming, was the one the WBA set up to determine a champion after Muhammad Ali was stripped of his undisputed heavyweight title for refusing Military induction on April 27, 1967. The WBA tournament was supposed to be between the top eight heavyweight contenders. However, Joe Frazier, who was the top ranked fighter in the division, withdrew from it and said I’ll beat the winner and he did. Former undisputed champ Sonny Liston, who was crowding 40 years old, was blackballed due to his supposed underworld connections and was seen as a declining fighter by the boxing establishment being two years removed from losing his rematch against Ali. When it was all said and done, Jimmy Ellis won a majority decision over Jerry Quarry in the final of the WBA elimination tournament, and a year and a half later Frazier stopped Ellis at the new Madison Square Garden to become the recognized heavyweight champion.
The WBA elimination tournament wasn’t a big success and the WBC’s to determine Mayweather’s successor in both weight classes will be an even bigger farce! Exhibit-A….the first bout in the welterweight division will see Danny Garcia 31-0 (18), who vacated his junior welterweight title earlier this year before fighting and defeating former welterweight title holder Paulie Malinaggi, fight former three division title holder Robert Guerrero 33-3-1 (18).
Garcia, 27, and Guerrero, 32, are two of the easiest fighters in professional boxing to like and root for. They’re both legitimate world class fighters and have never backed down from anyone during their stellar careers, and that makes this column difficult to do. Because the fact of the matter is Garcia vs. Guerrero in January of 2016 is a mismatch. In other words Guerrero, who went the distance with Floyd Mayweather in 2013, has no chance, not a prayer, to beat Garcia with a title shot on the line.
For starters Robert is a manufactured welterweight and fought his best during his days when he owned the featherweight and super-featherweight titles. Guerrero is one very tough and determined fighter, but there are too many miles on his odometer, and they are not highway miles, they’re hard city miles in which he’s run over many pot-holes along the way. Unlike Floyd Mayweather who was content just out-boxing Guerrero, Garcia is of a different mindset. Danny loves to fight and trade and he’ll no doubt want to be remembered as the first fighter to stop Robert.
Guerrero is 2-2 in his last four bouts. After convincingly beating Andre Berto in 2012, who was Floyd Mayweather’s last opponent, Robert has taken a lot of punches. After defeating Berto, Guerrero lost a lopsided decision to Mayweather, and then won a unanimous decision over Yoshihiro Kamegai a year later. Nine months after that he was knocked down by the undefeated and hard punching Keith Thurman 26-0 (22) en’route to losing a one-sided unanimous decision. In his last bout this past June he had life and death securing a split decision over the very ordinary Aaron Martinez 19-4-1 (4).
Garcia, on the other hand is at or reaching his physical prime. Since 2012 Danny has defeated Erik Morales twice, stopped Amir Khan along with beating Zab Judah, Lucas Matthysse, and Lamont Peterson before stopping Malinaggi in his last bout this past August. Guerrero has had a tremendous career and is the ultimate overachiever, but he’s at the end of the line as far as competing with the elite fighters at 147. Garcia is very tough and determined and he takes a great punch. Now couple that with Guerrero who is nothing close to being a puncher, yet fights as if he is a banger and that suits Garcia oerfectly. Robert likes to push the fight, but that won’t have any effect on Garcia, because he doesn’t have the pop in either hand to force Danny to do a single thing he doesn’t want to.
Both Garcia and Guerrero will be right there to be hit but Garcia is much quicker and energetic now. Danny hits harder and gets off better, and the more firefights that erupt favor Garcia. The fight is another high profile matchup between one guy on the way up and the other on a rapid decline. I’m a big fan of both guys but at this stage there can be no fight between them, the result is a forgone conclusion. As much as I’d like to be wrong, I’m not. I just hope that Guerrero’s corner doesn’t let him take too many punches once the outcome is no longer in question, because Robert will never quit or back down. The problem is, there just isn’t much left to give and Garcia is a terrible match up for him stylistically.
The Garcia-Guerrero clash will take place on January 23, 2016 at the Staples Center in Los Angeles and will be the main event under the “Premier Boxing Champions” banner on Fox. According to ESPN’s Dan Rafael “The format for the tournaments has not been announced and there has been no time frame or a number of boxers slated to appear in each field set.”
This of course is code for saying we’ll manipulate the fighters and match-ups to best serve and produce the desired outcome.
Frank Lotierzo can be contacted at GlovedFist@Gmail.com