It’s not like Danny Garcia was getting much attention, waiting around on a possible, but increasingly unlikely, lottery ticket bout with Filipino icon Manny Pacquiao. And it’s not like there was all that much for the former junior welterweight champ to do at welterweight, beyond rebuild his ranking, his brand, and his reputation after a 3-3 stretch in the division and losses to the top stars there.
So, Garcia is moving up one more weight class, where there may be no windfall blockbuster battles, but there’s a whole new set of respectable opposition to face and, therefore, a few more years of career left.
“My goal in boxing was to be a three-division world champion: 140, 147, and 154,” Garcia told SouthBoX Radio. “And I fought everybody at 147, I fought everybody at 140. I thought I beat Thurman, I thought I beat Porter. I feel like I did everything I was supposed to do at 147. Even though I didn’t unify the division like I wanted to, I still became champion. I feel like my next chapter in my career is at 154.
“I’ll go up to 154, I’m still a bigger name than all the dudes at 154. I’m definitely gonna be the biggest name in that division. And they need someone to help them bring more light to that division. You know how boxing is, boxing’s all about matchmaking. You get the right matches at 154, that’s all it’s about.”
The question is whether Garcia, who some felt was a division above his ideal weight at welter, can be anything more than a “name” opponent for the junior middleweight stars.
If you asked that question two years ago, the answer would’ve been a resounding “no.” But the junior middleweight division has been incredibly active and competitive– something which gets way too little attention from media who always rail on and on about “the best fighting the best.” With so much activity and general parity among top contenders, the deep and talented 154 lb. class has been whittled down considerably.
Jermell Charlo now owns three of the four recognized world title belts. Argentina’s Brian Castano has the fourth. Erislandy Lara, who was once the standard bearer of the division is now past-prime and not the riddle-inside-a-menace he once was. Jerrett Hurd, who was once the muscle of the division, has only fought once– delivering a tepid performance against journeyman Francisco Santana– since being unseated by Julian Williams in May of 2019. Julian Williams was shocked and stopped by Jesion Rosario, who was, in turn, stopped by Jermell Charlo. Young, strong Mexican battler Jaime Munguia has moved up permanently to 160.
So, yeah, 154 ain’t what it used to be. But is it still too much for a Danny Garcia who never quite established any sort of dominance at 147?
It seems that maybe Garcia, himself, senses just how tough this move up in weight might be. He’s been talking about his first major junior middleweight bout being against welterweight Keith Thurman, who beat him via close split decision in 2017. Facing Thurman at 154 would be an infinitely more comfortable first step up in weight.
Garcia is no bum and there’s zero doubt that he still has world class skills. His three losses at welterweight were close encounters against high end, world class champions. No matter how strong he’s been matched, he’s never looked out of his league or overwhelmed in the least.
But at 33 years of age, a move up to a division which has historically been a holding class for soon-to-be middleweights may be a bit much. Then, again, if Garcia’s all about getting another string of paydays in a fresh division and, maybe, seeing just how high he can climb, then this move may be the right career decision.