Garcia: 'A new champion is born'
Any crossroads fight between an undefeated prospect and a battle-hardened veteran in his last throes is usually regarded as some sort of passing of the torch, but it remains to be seen whether the flame will actually change hands when junior welterweight champion Erik Morales meets young gun Danny Garcia on Saturday at Houston's Reliant Arena.
In this fight -- postponed two months by Morales' unforseen surgery -- Philadelphia's 23-year-old Garcia (22-0, 14 KOs), who is coming off solid victories against former champions Nate Campbell and Kendall Holt, will have his hands full. Morales (52-7, 36 KOs), a 35-year-old native of Mexico and the last man to defeat Manny Pacquiao in a title fight, remains as tough as nails. Even though that Pacquiao win came seven years ago and Morales' luck has been uneven since, the always-exciting former four-division champ remains a tough opponent for all at 140 pounds, as he showed against Argentine banger Marcos Maidana in their hard-fought April 2011 bout.
We caught up with Garcia during the last leg of his training camp to hear his thoughts about this career-defining bout:
How have you felt while training for this fight?
The training has been really great. I've been sparring with Raymond Serrano. I had great sparring with a lot of good fighters.
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Did the postponement of the fight affect you or your training schedule in any way?
No, I don't think it did, because when they originally scheduled the fight there were only six weeks left for me to prepare for the fight. So this actually kind of helped me in a better way, because I got to prepare longer and get ready. It helped me to get more prepared.
Do you think that Morales' health problems may have weakened him or affected him at all as a fighter?
I really don't know, and I am not looking at it like that, because I am in 110 percent great shape and I don't go hoping there's anything wrong with him. I wish he is completely healthy, because I want to give the fans a great fight.
What's your take on Morales as a fighter?
He did a lot for the sport, and he is a great fighter. He deserves the mark he left in the sport, and just like everyone else, I grew up watching him. I am just ready to take on the best now.
Do you have any additional expectations when fighting a legend?
You know, I look at it like I have to be in the best shape of my life so I can perform well. I feel like I am in the best shape of my life; I've never been in this type of shape before. I've never been in this condition before and, to me, that's the key to this fight -- to be in the best condition and have my skills ready to show him, to put it all together, because this is it.
You're coming off wins against two former champions. Do you see Morales as the logical next step in your career, or might it be too early to fight such an experienced fighter?
When they told me I was going to fight him, I was so excited and so happy, because I know I belong on this level, and now it's just a matter of showing this to the people.
Morales has said he expects to be in big fights in 2012, and he mentioned Amir Khan, Lamont Peterson and others as potential opponents. Do you believe he may be looking past you?
If he said that, I think he is. And he is in for a big shocker because I don't underestimate him, and I hope he doesn't underestimate me. I am going to be ready for him for this fight.
What part of your style will give Morales problems?
I really can't say, because I haven't fought him yet. But when I fight him, the world will see what kind of fight I can bring to the table.
Do you approach this fight as a boxing match or as a slugfest?
I think it will be both -- that's why it's going to be such an exciting fight. I am definitely looking forward to it. I can't wait. Is there anything new that you've been working on for this particular fight?
One thing that you're going to see in this fight is more explosiveness, more combinations. I am going to be like a lion out there looking for his prey.
How do you see the fight unfolding Saturday?
I see myself at the end of the fight with my hand raised to the sky. A new champion is born.
Diego Morilla is a contributor to ESPNdeportes.com.
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