/Danny Garcia has opportunity for new life in a crowded welterweight division against Errol Spence Jr.
Danny Garcia has opportunity for new life in a crowded welterweight division against Errol Spence Jr.

Danny Garcia has opportunity for new life in a crowded welterweight division against Errol Spence Jr.

You know the cycle. Boxing is forever in a rotation of “boom, lull, dead and boom” as stars rotate in and out of the sport’s landscape. That’s also the story of many fighters: booming early in their career, rising to the championship ranks and having their careers declared dead when they pick up a loss or two.

As boxing enters what looks to be the beginning of another boom — with heavyweight, lightweight and welterweight all loaded with talent and compelling fights — Danny Garcia is trying to revitalize his own career and return to the ranks of world champions for the first time since 2017 when he faces WBC and IBF welterweight champion Errol Spence Jr. on Saturday at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas.

After starting his career 33-0 and capturing the WBA crown at welterweight — including a lengthy reign as junior welterweight champ — Garcia lost a split decision to Keith Thurman in March 2017. The loss felt like something approaching karma after Garcia had arguably been gifted decision wins over Lamont Peterson and Mauricio Herrera. Two fights later, Garcia picked up a more decisive loss, dropping a split decision to Shawn Porter for then-vacant WBC welterweight belt.

In the wake of Porter’s win over Garcia, Errol Spence Jr. entered the ring and threw down a challenge to the winner, which Spence won in one of the best fights of 2019 by split decision.

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With Spence and Terence Crawford emerging as the top stars in the welterweight division, and Thurman, Porter and Manny Pacquiao all grabbing the spotlight, Garcia has felt like the odd man out in a crowded and competitive 147-pound scene.

Rebounding from the Porter loss with wins over Adrian Granados and Ivan Redkach didn’t drive Garcia back into the larger boxing consciousness, but he was the man Premier Boxing Champions tabbed to face Spence after Spence beat Porter, a fight complicated by Spence’s terrifying high-speed crash and a global pandemic.

“I picked Danny Garcia because he’s a tough opponent with a granite chin. He’s always in tough close fights. He’s going to bring the best out of me,” Spence said during a recent virtual media workout. “If I took a tune-up fight, I wouldn’t be as focused or dedicated as I am right now. I know Danny’s dad is pushing him to take my belts in my hometown. So I’m staying focused to make sure that doesn’t happen.”

Garcia was once in position to be the man who did the picking. Now he’s become the picked. But he has the opportunity he’s been waiting for: the chance to get in the ring with one of boxing’s pound-for-pound elites and attempt to elevate himself to any number of huge money fights.

Furthermore, a win over Spence would possibly land Garcia in the discussion for 2020 Fighter of the Year. That’s the power of one big win in boxing, the chance to regain every bit of momentum and prestige lost in defeats to Thurman and Porter.

Of course, getting that win is a big ask. Garcia has never been as big of an underdog as he will when he faces Spence. Currently, Garcia is a +350 underdog at William Hill Sportsbook even with the questions surrounding Spence’s health following his car crash. Without those questions, it’s likely Spence would be even more heavily favored.

Garcia says he isn’t focused on the odds, his losses or what shape Spence will be in for the fight. He is training for the best version of Spence, he said, and preparing for a big future.

“Everything I’ve done in the past, it doesn’t really mean anything any more,” Garcia told Yahoo Sports. “I have to go in there on [Saturday] and this is my new future.”