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Garcia outpoints Guerrero, wins WBC welterweight title

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LOS ANGELES (AP) Danny Garcia needed several rounds to figure out how to handle Robert Guerrero. He still had plenty of time left to claim his first welterweight title in style.

Garcia won the vacant WBC 147-pound belt Saturday night with a resourceful performance in a unanimous-decision victory over Guerrero.

Garcia (32-0, 18 KOs) recovered from a slow start and largely controlled the later rounds to win a world title in just his second welterweight bout. The Philadelphia fighter took charge with a dominant right hand, out-boxing and punishing Guerrero (33-4-1) before surviving a frantic 12th round.

“I’m back where I belong,” Garcia said. “It was what I expected. I knew I would win at least eight or nine rounds.”

Garcia won 116-112 on all three judges’ scorecards to claim the WBC title left vacant by the retirement of Floyd Mayweather Jr., who watched from ringside in the Staples Center crowd of 12,052.

The main event was scored identically by judges Max DeLuca, Rey Denesco and Steve Weisfeld, who only varied in their opinion on two rounds. The Associated Press also scored it 116-112.

After cementing his claim for the next big star in the welterweight division, Garcia celebrated in the ring with his new green title belt – and a tiny replica for his 5-month-old daughter, Philly.

“I was throwing my combinations, using my legs like my dad told me to do,” Garcia said. “I knew he was going to come to fight. He’s a rugged warrior.”

Earlier, former U.S. Olympic heavyweight Dominic Breazeale survived a knockdown to remain unbeaten when Amir Mansour quit before the sixth with a mouth injury. Welterweight prospect Sammy Vasquez also stayed unbeaten when Aron Martinez quit with an injury before the seventh.

Garcia didn’t waste his quick opportunity for a 147-pound title shot after a championship-winning career at 140 pounds. He beat Amir Khan, Erik Morales, Lucas Matthysse and Lamont Peterson at junior welterweight before moving up to 147 pounds last August with a ninth-round stoppage of veteran Paulie Malignaggi.

Guerrero got off to an impressive start against Garcia, but became less mobile and less effective late in his third career loss in a welterweight title fight, following previous defeats against Mayweather and Keith Thurman. The former multi-division champion’s career has hit a crossroads with three losses in his last five fights, along with two debatable decision victories.

But Guerrero was more aggressive early on at Staples, following Garcia around the ring and landing big shots while Garcia backpedaled. Garcia also complained about head-butts, but he gradually gained control of the bout, exploiting Guerrero’s lack of head movement and defense.

The bout turned after Guerrero rocked Garcia with a straight left to the head in the fifth. Garcia recovered and answered with a series of punishing right hands in the sixth.

Garcia exerted control from there, but Guerrero occasionally replied before they finished with an all-action 12th round.

“Not one person out there thought Danny won, but his team,” Guerrero said. “I pressured him. I nailed him, busted his body up. I out-jabbed him. The crowd thought I won the fight. I thought I won the fight, and I definitely want a rematch.”

Garcia is heavily backed for stardom by Premier Boxing Champions, Al Haymon’s company putting fights back on network television. Garcia has backed up the hype for years with lively, athletic performances, but was tested more than many expected by Guerrero.

The pre-fight promotion featured the usual shenanigans of both fighters’ excitable fathers, Angel Garcia and Ruben Guerrero. The fathers, who both train their sons, even exchanged trash talk during the faceoff before the bout.

Breazeale (17-0, 15 KOs), a former college football quarterback who boxed at the London Olympics, got rocked repeatedly by the 43-year-old Mansour (22-2-1) in the first three rounds. Breazeale, whose mother died on New Year’s Eve, crashed to the canvas in the third.

He recovered well and landed several big fifth-round punches on Mansour, who quit on his stool, believing he had broken his jaw. A subsequent trip to the hospital revealed his jaw wasn’t broken, but his tongue was badly injured, a PBC spokesman said.

“Shows I have punching power after all,” Breazeale said.

GGG outlasts Jacobs in close unanimous decision

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NEW YORK (AP) Gennady Golovkin outlasted Danny Jacobs in an exhausting 12-round defense of his middleweight titles Saturday night.

Both fighters are knockout artists, yet this one went the distance – the first time GGG has not had a KO in 24 fights, and his first time going 12 rounds. The Kazakh won 115-112 on two judges’ cards and 114-113 on the other.

The AP had it 114-113 for Golovkin.

In the toughest fight of his stellar career, Golovkin often was stymied by Jacobs changing to a left-handed style. But a series of hard rights throughout the bout were enough – barely – to bring his record to 37-0.

“Daniel did a very good job,” Golovkin said. “Daniel is my favorite fighter. I can’t destroy him.”

He didn’t, unlike so many other opponents who felt the fury or GGG.

“I thought I won it by at least two rounds minimum,” said Jacobs, nicknamed Miracle Man after he overcame bone cancer in 2011-12 to win 10 straight fights. “I did feel like I had to win the 12th round to make sure.”

He won it on two of the three cards, but it wasn’t enough, perhaps because he was knocked down in the fourth round, which went to Golovkin 10-8 on all three cards.

Still, with Madison Square Garden reverberating from chants of “Triple G” or “JACOBS,” no one could be sure of the outcome right until the final punch.

Jacobs is 32-2. Golovkin holds on to his belts and took Jacobs’ WBA middleweight title.

Golovkin, a world champion since 2010, is 5-0 at the Garden, which he calls a “second home.” But Jacobs, from Brooklyn and, oddly, a representative of the competing arena the Barclays Center, tested him more than anyone has.

Golovkin keeps his WBC and WBO crowns – the IBF belt was not at stake because Jacobs skipped that organization’s fight-day weigh-in. On the horizon for GGG could be that elusive meeting with Canelo Alvarez if the Mexican wins his fight in May against Julio Cesar Chavez Jr.

“Of course I am ready to fight Canelo, of course I want that fight,” Golovkin said. “I am like an animal for that fight.”

But there’s another option, GGG admitted.

“I will give Danny Jacobs a chance for a rematch.”

Earlier, Thailand’s Srisaket Sor Rungvisai stunned previously unbeaten Roman “Chocolatito” Gonzalez, knocking down the Nicaraguan in the first round, bloodying his face with an unintentional head-butt in the third, then winning a majority decision for the WBC super flyweight championship.

Even though Sor Rungvisai was docked a point in the sixth round for another head-butt – there were several in the brutal bout – he never backed off. He relentlessly attacked the cut over the right eye of Gonzalez, who clearly was hampered by the blood streaming down his face. The challenger carried the fight in the eyes’ of the judges through the latter rounds.

In only his second fight outside Asia, Sor Rungvisai improved to 42-4-1 with 38 knockouts. Gonzalez, considered one of the best pound-for-pound fighters in the sport, is 46-1.

One judge had the fight even at 113-113. The other two gave the Thai the nod 114-112 in the action-packed bout.

A sellout crowd at Madison Square Garden vigorously booed the decision.

The AP had it 115-113 for Gonzalez, who has held some sort of world title since 2008.

Gonzalez went down from a hard right to the body in the opening round, but he then took charge – even after his face turned to a bloody mask in the middle rounds. However, Sor Rungvisai landed enough punches and moved well enough to keep in it.

And then, despite being outpunched decisively, with Gonzalez landing 441 to 284, the Thai got the surprise decision.

Earlier, Carlos Cuadras outpointed fellow Mexican David Carmona in a super flyweight fight.

Both from Mexico City, Cuadras and Carmona were coming off defeats. Neither was particularly sharp Saturday night, and the decision drew a lusty round of boos from the crowd.

Perhaps the unorthodox manner in which Cuadras fought, at times looking off-balance and awkward, didn’t win over the fans. Or maybe it was the way Carmona came on late in the 10-rounder.

Regardless, the judges went for Cuadras 97-93, 97-93 and 96-94.

Cuadras (36-1-1 with 27 KOs) lost a close unanimous decision to Gonzalez in a sensational September matchup for the WBC belt he’d held since 2014. He wasn’t nearly as impressive in his win at the Garden.

Carmona (20-4-5) was also coming off a loss, to WBO world champion Naoya Inoue of Japan.

Cleveland’s Ryan Martin improved to 18-0 with 11 knockouts when he totally outmatched Bryant Cruz before stopping him in the seventh round of their lightweight bout.

Floyd Mayweather would be massive betting favorite against Conor McGregor in superfight

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Seeing how Floyd Mayweather has never lost a professional fight to any actual boxer, oddsmakers rate him as an overwhelming favorite if the much rumored boxing match against mixed martial arts star Conor McGregor comes to realization.

Mayweather is  listed as a -1400 betting favorite against the +750 underdog McGregor at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com. If it happens – and McGregor has been dropping hints that it will, sharing video of him training for boxing in Mayweather’s hometown of Las Vegas – it would also be the most lucrative bout in prize fighting history.

Mayweather, who turns 40 years old next week, is a perfect 49-0 during a career which has seen him win acclaim as the best fighter, pound for pound, of the last quarter-century. The five-division world champion has stayed on top of the game for so long by being an excellent defensive fighter who wears out opponents.

Mayweather’s last seven victories as well as 10 of his last 12 have gone the full 12 rounds. At this stage of his career, he’s far from a knockout artist but is likely to be able to keep his guard up much better than the typical opponent McGregor faces in the Octagon.

McGregor, the UFC lightweight champion, ends his fights quickly. The Irishman has won 17 of his last 18 bouts, including 14 by knockout or technical knockout. Stamina likely wouldn’t be an issue for McGregor in a boxing ring, given that boxing rounds are two minutes shorter than the five-minute rounds in the UFC.

Of course, if the fight actually comes to pass, McGregor would have to adjust to using the heavier boxing gloves and would have to get used to staying on his feet.

Since coming to the UFC, McGregor has been an underdog only once, closing at -105 against Jose Aldo at UFC 194. That was the bout where he knocked out Aldo in 13 seconds.