Ex-champs Porter, Garcia meet for vacant welterweight throne

Boxing champion Shawn Porter improved to 30-2 in his career after beating Cuban challenger Yordenis Ugas by a split decision in Los Angeles

Former world champions Shawn Porter and Danny Garcia battle Saturday for the vacant World Boxing Council welterweight title and perhaps a chance to avenge a loss to unbeaten Keith Thurman.

The slugfest between 30-year-old Americans at New York's Barclays Center sends Garcia, 34-1 with 20 knockouts, against Porter, 28-2 with one drawn and 17 knockouts, for a title vacated by Thurman in April due to injury.

"This fight is an opportunity to prove that I'm still one of the best fighters in the world. I'm coming to get my belt back," Garcia said. "Getting that world title back is what it's all about."

Garcia beat Mexico's Erik Morales for the WBC super-lightweight crown in March 2012 and took the World Boxing Association version of the crown from Britain's Amir Khan four months later. He spent two years ruling the division before moving up in weight.

In 2016, he beat Robert Guerrero for the WBC welterweight crown but lost it last year to Thurman in a split decision at Barclays Center. Garcia last fought in February, stopping Brandon Rios.

"This is another opportunity to become a four-time world champion and that excites me," Garcia said. "I still feel like the WBC title is mine, so I'm even more ready to reclaim it."

Thurman needed right elbow surgery after beating Garcia and suffered a bruised left hand last March in training for his next fight. He vacated the WBC crown in April, setting the stage for Garcia to face Porter with the winner a likely next foe for compatriot Thurman, 28-0 with 22 knockouts.

Porter edged Thurman 115-113 on all three scorecards to win their 2016 matchup for the WBA crown in his most recent world title bout. He has won two fights since then, most recently by unanimous decision over Mexico's Adrian Granados last November, to set up the Garcia showdown.

"This is a huge fight. It's the biggest fight of my career and my life. This is my Super Bowl," Porter said. "I've been doing this since I was eight and I can't think of an opportunity that I've wanted more in my life.

"I'm going go out there and be aggressive, be sharp, be quick and let the rest take care of itself. This is a humungous fight that I've been looking forward to for a long time."

- 'Ready for anything' -

Porter beat Devon Alexander in 2013 for the International Boxing Federation welterweight title and defended that crown twice before losing it by majority decision to Britain's Kell Brook in 2014.

"I just don't think Danny can handle me. He says I'm tailor-made for him, but we'll see on Saturday night," Porter said. "I think my ability to mix it up is going to create a problem for him. I'm going to keep him on his toes, keep him guessing and keep him off balance. That's the key to winning."

Garcia sees it differently.

"Shawn's style is exactly what I like to go up against," Garcia said. "I want him to come forward and walk into my counter punching. I have power in both hands and I'm going to make him feel it.

"If he comes and opens up, I'm going to land a clean shot early. If he can't recover, then I'm going to have a chance to finish him. I'm going to dictate the pace and fight my fight. I'm ready for anything."