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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.

‘It’s about time’: Trump pardons late boxer Jack Johnson

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WASHINGTON (AP) President Donald Trump on Thursday granted a rare posthumous pardon to boxing’s first black heavyweight champion, clearing Jack Johnson’s name more than 100 years after what many see as his racially-charged conviction.

“It’s my honor to do it. It’s about time,” Trump said during an Oval Office ceremony, where he was joined by boxer Lennox Lewis and actor Sylvester Stallone, who has drawn awareness to Johnson’s cause.

Trump said Johnson had served 10 months in prison for what many view as a racially-motivated injustice and described his decision as an effort “to correct a wrong in our history.”

“He represented something that was both very beautiful and very terrible at the same time,” Trump said.

Johnson was convicted in 1913 by an all-white jury for violating the Mann Act, which made it illegal to transport women across state lines for “immoral” purposes, for traveling with his white girlfriend.

Trump had said previously that Stallone had brought Johnson’s story to his attention in a phone call.

“His trials and tribulations were great, his life complex and controversial,” Trump tweeted in April. “Others have looked at this over the years, most thought it would be done, but yes, I am considering a Full Pardon!”

Johnson is a legendary figure in boxing and crossed over into popular culture decades ago with biographies, dramas and documentaries following the civil rights era.

He died in 1946. His great-great niece has pressed Trump for a posthumous pardon, and Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., and former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., have been pushing Johnson’s case for years.

The son of former slaves, Johnson defeated Tommy Burns for the heavyweight title in 1908 at a time when blacks and whites rarely entered the same ring. He then mowed down a series of “great white hopes,” culminating in 1910 with the undefeated former champion, James J. Jeffries.

McCain previously told The Associated Press that Johnson “was a boxing legend and pioneer whose career and reputation were ruined by a racially charged conviction more than a century ago.”

“Johnson’s imprisonment forced him into the shadows of bigotry and prejudice, and continues to stand as a stain on our national honor,” McCain has said.

Posthumous pardons are rare, but not unprecedented. President Bill Clinton pardoned Henry O. Flipper, the first African-American officer to lead the Buffalo Soldiers of the 10th Cavalry Regiment during the Civil War, and Bush pardoned Charles Winters, an American volunteer in the Arab-Israeli War convicted of violating the U.S. Neutrality Acts in 1949.

Linda E. Haywood, the great-great niece, wanted Barack Obama, the nation’s first black president, to pardon Johnson, but Justice Department policy says “processing posthumous pardon petitions is grounded in the belief that the time of the officials involved in the clemency process is better spent on the pardon and commutation requests of living persons.”

The Justice Department makes decisions on potential pardons through an application process and typically makes recommendations to the president. The general DOJ policy is to not accept applications for posthumous pardons for federal convictions, according to the department’s website. But Trump has shown a willingness to work around the DOJ process in the past.

Associated Press writer Zeke Miller contributed to this report.

Lomachenko stops Linares in 10th, wins lightweight title

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NEW YORK (AP) Vasiliy Lomachenko stopped Jorge Linares in the 10th round of their lightweight championship fight Saturday night, winning a title in his third weight class in just his 12th pro bout.

Lomachenko landed a hard left to the body during a flurry of precision punches that sent Linares went to a knee. Linares finally got up just as the count was reaching 10 but referee Ricky Gonzalez called an end to the fight at 2:08 of the round.

Linares knocked down Lomachenko in the sixth and the fight was all even after nine rounds before Lomachenko (11-1, 9 KOs) put an overpowering end to his first fight at 135 pounds, adding that title to his belts at 126 and 130 pounds.

Linares (44-4, 27 KOs) hadn’t lost since 2012 and used his size advantage to do some damage, but in the end Lomachenko did more in an exciting Madison Square Garden match.

The fighter widely known as Vasyl said this week he prefers to use Vasiliy, his legal name. And now he can be called lightweight champion after picking up the WBA’s version of the belt in front of a crowd of 10,429 that chanted “Loma! Loma!” and waved blue and gold flags for much of the night.

It was Lomachenko’s eighth straight victory by stoppage, but this one was much tougher than a recent stretch of clinics in which his last four fights ended when his opponents’ corners wouldn’t let them take more punishment from the Ukrainian.

Lomachenko had joked he should be called “no mas Chenko” for his habit of making opponents quit, but Linares made him earn this victory.

The Venezuelan was on a 13-fight winning streak and was giving the two-time Olympic gold medalist the test he wanted, one that he said would bring out the best in what many already consider the most skilled fighter in the world.

Each fighter was ahead 86-84 on a judge’s card, while Julie Lederman had it 85-all after nine rounds.

Lomachenko said Thursday he needed to finally be put in danger to show his complete array of skills, and then on display in the 10th round with a series of shots that Linares couldn’t defend, especially the left to his midsection that took the biggest toll.

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