Los Angeles Times

Garcia gets unanimous decision over Guerrero

Philadelph­ia fighter claims World Boxing Council welterweig­ht title left vacant by Mayweather’s retirement.

- By Lance Pugmire lance.pugmire@latimes.com Twitter: @latimespug­mire

Danny Garcia’s ability to figure things out during an endurance test of a boxing match made him welterweig­ht world champion Saturday at Staples Center.

After five problemati­c rounds with determined veteran Robert Guerrero, Garcia found a way to batter his opponent with hard right-handed punches in the sixth round.

And as the older man dealt with the toll of that punishment, Garcia, 27, proceeded to out-box Guerrero, 32, for the final half of the World Boxing Council title bout, winning a unanimous decision by 116-112 on all three judges’ scorecards.

“It was what I expected. I knew I would win at least eight or nine rounds,” said Garcia, 32-0 with 18 knockouts. “Guerrero is tough. No one has ever stopped him. He came to fight, he was in shape.”

The belt now belonging to the former light-welterweig­ht world champion used to belong to retired, undefeated Floyd Mayweather Jr., who attended the bout.

Guerrero (33-4-1, 18 KOs) relied on the remnants of the determinat­ion that made him a former two-division world champion, especially early, when he worked the body, landed jabs and made Garcia pay for missing a wild right hand with a scoring flurry in the fourth round.

Despite punch statistics showing Garcia landed 163 punches to Guerrero’s 108, Guerrero hung on to the early highlights in asking for a rematch, arguing that “not one person out there thought Danny won, but his team.

“I pressured him, I nailed him, busted his body up. I out-jabbed him. I thought I won. . . . It was a great fight.”

With the area underneath Garcia’s right eye marked after he endured some Guerrero head butts, the possibilit­y of an upset crossed the minds of the 12,052 in attendance.

But Garcia’s dominant sixth round changed the course as he invented angles with the mighty right and smartly set up the steady blows that left the fighter from Gilroy, Calif., visibly altered.

Garcia, from Philadelph­ia, swept rounds seven through nine by repeatedly finding Guerrero’s head and body with rights.

“I was throwing my combinatio­ns, using my legs like my dad told me to do. I knew he was going to come to fight. He’s a rugged warrior,” said Garcia, now positioned for a showdown with the winner of the March 12 World Boxing Assn. title fight between unbeaten Keith Thurman and ex-champion Shawn Porter.

Earlier, Sammy Vasquez outclassed Los Angeles’ Aron Martinez with speed and pressure, leaving Martinez defeated on his stool by a doctor’s stoppage after six rounds because of a left elbow injury.

“I couldn’t throw my jab,” said Martinez, who said the pain first surfaced in the third round. “I knew it’d be tough to keep going.”

Vasquez’s victory keeps the Pennsylvan­ia product unbeaten after he served two stints in Iraq for the Army and returned with post-traumatic stress disorder.

The left-handed Vasquez (21-0, 15 KOs) defused Martinez’s plans to outbox him from the beginning, stunting Martinez with straight lefts and a later combinatio­n in the fourth that maintained his control.

Southland heavyweigh­t Dominic Breazeale overcame a third-round knockdown by left-handed Amir Mansour with a left uppercut in the fifth round that caused Mansour to bite through his tongue and begin to choke on his blood, forcing a stoppage in the corner.

“Shows I’ve got some power after all,” said Breazeale, 17-0 with 15 KOs. . “I knew I could get up. It happens to the best of us and I’m a fighter at heart.”

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