Garcia, Guerrero focused on silencing critics

Former junior welterweight world champion Danny Garcia is an undefeated fighter who ruled the 140-pound weight class until making the official move to welterweight in August in a one-sided ninth-round thrashing of former titlist Paulie Malignaggi.

Garcia is filled with confidence and aiming to take over another weight division.

"I feel like I've faced some real good fighters," Garcia said. "We just want to keep winning fights and getting bigger fights."

Robert Guerrero, on the other hand, has seen better days, but he is not about to throw in the towel. The former two-division titleholder is just 2-2 in his last four fights -- and many think he should have been 1-3 -- but as he strives to hang on to his career as a top boxer, he's ready to go to battle to prove that he is not done yet.

"I can't wait to silence all the critics who are writing me off," Guerrero said.

These two fighters are both hungry and both expect to win, but their careers are going in different directions. Will Garcia continue on remain unbeaten, or will Guerrero regain a huge measure of lost luster with an upset?

The answer will come Saturday night (Fox, 8 ET) when they meet for a vacant welterweight world title in the main event of a Premier Boxing Champions card at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, the first prime-time card on Fox since 1998.

The fight has been on the schedule since late November, but it was only last week that the winner would take one of the 147-pound world titles left vacant by the retirement of Floyd Mayweather in September. That has given Garcia and Guerrero additional motivation.

"I knew the opportunities would come and that I'd be fighting for a title eventually," said Garcia, who defended his junior welterweight crown five times and also unified two belts. "There's nothing like a championship fight. It's just a different atmosphere. I fought [Erik] Morales for a belt and now I'm fighting another Mexican warrior in Guerrero."

Said Guerrero: "Having the world title on the line just adds fuel to the fire. We'll find out Saturday night how it all plays out."

In Saturday's co-feature, welterweight Aron Martinez (20-4-1, 4 KOs), 34, of East Los Angeles, and Sammy Vasquez (20-0, 14 KOs), 29, of Monessen, Pennsylvania, meet in a scheduled 10-round bout that will move the winner a step closer to challenging the Garcia-Guerrero winner for his world title belt.

There's also a 10-round heavyweight fight in the opener as 6-foot-7, 260-pound Dominic Breazeale (16-0, 14 KOs), 30, of Alhambra, California, a 2012 U.S. Olympian, will fight 6-foot-1, 220-pound Amir "Hardcore" Mansour (22-1-1, 16 KOs), a hard-hitting 43-year-old southpaw from Wilmington, Delaware, who fights out of nearby Philadelphia.

Garcia and Guerrero, who won full titles at featherweight and junior lightweight in addition to interim belts at lightweight and welterweight, both come into the bout having faced recent fan criticism.

Many believe Garcia (31-0, 18 KOs), 27, of Philadelphia, has been coddled since beating Lucas Matthysse in 2013 because after that huge victory, his next opponents were big underdog Mauricio Herrera, who he was lucky to beat in a controversial majority decision; club fighter Rod Salka, who he knocked out; fellow titlist Lamont Peterson, against whom he scored another controversial majority decision (in a nontitle bout); and then Malignaggi, another massive underdog who was well past his best days.

Garcia, however, has dismissed the criticism, focusing instead on what he has in front of him.

"This is another fight that is going to make me a bigger star. Come Saturday night, I will be at my best," Garcia said. "I've had 31 professional fights. A lot of them have been big fights. This is another fight to me. There's nothing you can say that gets to me.

"I don't put any pressure on myself. I just go in there and take it one fight at a time. I'm not thinking about my record when I step in the ring, I just want to get the job done round by round."

Whatever criticism Garcia has received, he has at least remained unbeaten. Guerrero, however, has not looked good in recent fights, and as a result he's gotten flak for landing another big fight, especially one for a world title.

In his last four bouts since May 2013, Guerrero lost a one-sided decision to Mayweather in a world title fight; survived a life-and-death battle to outpoint unheralded Yoshihiro Kamegai; got pounded relentlessly in an entertaining but one-sided decision loss to titlist Keith Thurman last March; and got knocked down in split-decision win against huge underdog Martinez, whom legions believe clearly won the fight.

So it is no surprise that so few are giving Guerrero much of a chance against the younger, fresher Garcia.

"That don't bother me at all. My whole life I've been an underdog, since I was a kid," Guerrero said. "My family was always an underdog, having to work out of a field and come up strong and get to where we got. It's just a way of life for us. A lot of us Latinos out there, that's the way it is. We come from poverty and work our way to the top.

"We've always been with our back against the wall and always been an underdog. We never look at that being a favorite. We just come and get the job done."

Guerrero faced Martinez in June and some have suggested that he came back to quickly from the beating Thurman gave him. Guerrero, however, is not one of them.

"I have no excuses. And you know what? I came back; it was three months after the fight," he said. "Aron Martinez is a tough guy. Everybody saw his last fight and what he did [in an upset win over Devon Alexander]. He came out rough and tough and did his job.

"He gave me a tough fight, and I'm not going to take anything away from Aron Martinez because he trained his butt off and came and did what he did and got the job done. So I have no excuses for that fight. You just got to get back on top of it and work hard."

Garcia said he is expecting Guerrero to be a lot better than he was against Martinez, who was an unknown opponent.

"He might have underestimated the guy and not realized it was going to be that tough of a fight," Garcia said. "I'm expecting a great Robert Guerrero and I'm focused on Robert Guerrero."

Guerrero (33-3-1, 18 KOs), a 32-year-old southpaw from Gilroy, California, knows he had a rough run recently, but he still oozes determination.

"We've been training hard. We derailed off the tracks a bit, but we went back to square one in camp, back to what got me here in the first place," Guerrero said. "We put it back together. Going up against an undefeated fighter adds motivation to my drive. I want to defeat the undefeated guy, especially with this opportunity. I want to raise everybody's eyebrows."

As for the fight itself, Garcia is brashly predicting a relatively early knockout. He does not normally make bold predictions.

"I'd like to say Danny Garcia wins by TKO. Round five," Garcia boasted.

Guerrero declined to make a prediction on the outcome but did have something to say about Garcia's.

"Prediction -- I'll come in to fight. I'm coming to fight. Only God knows what's going to happen and all I can say is I'm coming to win and put out my best performance I can put out and make it happen and become a champion in the welterweight division again," Guerrero said.

"All I got to say [about Garcia's prediction] is if that's his prediction, come to do it, because I'm coming to fight. I'm always up for that challenge and I love it because I know he's coming to fight, too. If he's coming to KO me in the fifth round, that means he's coming to fight."