After a year of waiting, the boxing public will finally see junior welterweight champ Danny “Swift” Garcia of Philadelphia test his skills against rival titleholder Lamont “Havoc” Peterson of Washington, D.C. on April 11.
The fight will not take place at or under the junior welterweight limit of 140 pounds, instead at an agreed weight of 143 pounds. None of the three titles held between Garcia (29-0, 17 KOs) and Peterson (33-2-1, 17 KOs) is on the line for this fight. On top of that, the fight is scheduled for ten rounds of action, not twelve. So why should boxing care?
Because for the first time since they each fought Lucas “La Máquina” Matthysse in May and September of 2013, respectively, they will be facing off against credible, talented and dangerous opposition in each other. Of course in hindsight, Mauricio Herrera proved his quality over Garcia in their 2014 fight, but virtually no one going into that fight saw Herrera as a threat to Garcia’s throne.
“The fans wanted to see this fight, so I wanted to make sure that it happened,” Peterson told media, at the Bald Eagle Recreation Center, where he trains. “At the end of the day, I’m fighting for the fans and the media so why not fight who they want me to fight?
The fight is also headlining the second installment of Al Haymon’s Premier Boxing Champions on NBC. Both fighters are revered as quick boxer punchers with decorated amateur backgrounds.
“I’m a better fighter,” Peterson said. “He’s definitely a counter-puncher and we’re looking to make sure that we don’t get countered the way some others have been.”
Peterson was obviously referring to another common opponent, Amir Khan, who Peterson defeated in a controversial decision in 2011 and who Garcia knocked out in 2012.
“I’m just looking to take the things I do well and execute, and then I’m looking to take away the things Garcia does well and force him to do the things he doesn’t do well more often,” Peterson said. “I don’t look at anyone previous fight of his and think ours is going to go that way.”
It’s no amazement that Peterson’s longtime trainer Barry Hunter is on the same page as his protégé. Garcia may be a class fighter but to Hunter, he’s not any better than Peterson.
“Danny is a solid fighter. He doesn’t do one or two things great, but he does a lot of things well,” Hunter said. “There are some things though that we’ve seen in him that we think we can exploit, and we’re going to go out there with the intent to do so. Overall I think Lamont is a better fighter.”
Although fight fans have had to wait a year for a ten round fight, there may be some benefits. At 143, both fighters will likely be more hydrated and not have to work as hard to make weight. Going ten rounds, instead of twelve, could push each fighter to a quicker pace early. This means the opening rounds will be more crucial for each to establish dominance and score points.
“You ask a lot of your body in that ring and a lot of times it goes to what it knows. So your personality definitely comes out, and I think that’s where I shine more than other fighters.” Peterson said. “The later rounds are when I normally take over the fight. A lot of the time I wish we could go more rounds.”
In this bout, the later rounds will come early, and Peterson won’t have to save energy for a late fight.
“Regardless of how I choose to fight, I feel like I can win. I do have quicker feet, but I can use them to do other things too. I can go forward. I don’t always have to be going backwards,” Peterson said. “I will stick to the game plan, but we don’t know what the game plan is right now.”
Why a top fighter like Peterson doesn’t have a game plan, as far two weeks out, is his own business. A fighter’s ability to adapt to situations in the ring has proven to be more crucial in this sport than having a game plan. Peterson and his trainer are confident in Peterson’s ability inside the ring.
“Lamont is a very versatile fighter. He’s been in the ring hundreds of times,” Hunter said. “He can box. He can fight both inside and outside. He can strategize, but he can also be very aggressive.”
This fight is meant to be Peterson’s last stop at junior welterweight according to Hunter. Both fighters are looking to move up to 147; fighting each other at 143 could be their way of testing the waters at that weight.
“There’re only a few big names left at 140; everyone else has moved up to 147. So Lamont’s way of thinking was that the only way this fight made sense at 140 was if he could face Danny Garcia,” Hunter said. “This was more about giving the fans what they want to see. This is going to give fans a great free fight again on national TV.”