LOS ANGELES: Undefeated Danny Garcia faces Robert Guerrero on Saturday (Sunday in Manila) in an all-American showdown for the World Boxing Council welterweight crown, the title vacated by the retirement of unbeaten star Floyd Mayweather.
Garcia, 31-0 with 18 knockouts, moves up from holding the WBC and World Boxing Association titles at junior welterweight.
“He has awakened the devil,” Garcia said of Guerrero and his camp. “They set it off and they woke us up. That’s the last thing you want to do. I’m going to bring the heat. He never faced a guy like me. I’m sending a message.”
Southpaw Guerrero, 33-3 with one drawn and 18 knockouts, is five years older than Garcia at 32.
The former featherweight and super featherweight world champion lost two prior bids at welterweight crowns, falling to Mayweather in 2013 and another US fighter, Keith Thurman, last March.
“A title is on the line and I’m extremely motivated to silence the critics who are doubting me,” Guerrero said. “I’m ready to become a champion once again.”
Saturday’s winner faces a mandatory defense against England’s Amir Khan, who has not fought since last May but hopes for the chance to avenge a fourth-round stoppage at the hands of Garcia in 2012.
“I’ve got a potential fight with Garcia if he wins 2moro for the Wbc,” Khan tweeted. “it’s about time i got my opportunity to avenge that loss.”
Garcia said his training camp work has been solid and left him in top form.
“I haven’t felt this way in a long time,” he said. “It’s that feeling you get when you know you’re going to put on a great performance. I’m the type of fighter where I can be cool, but certain things bring out the anger in me. I don’t feel any pressure.
“I know he wants to get dirty but we have an answer for everything he has.”
Guerrero knows a victory would likely be one of his greatest.
“Going up against an undefeated fighter adds motivation to my drive. I want to defeat the undefeated guy, especially with this opportunity. I want to raise everybody’s eyebrows,” he said.
“I have to go out there and show my heart. Everything I put into this, I want to get even more out. I’m excited to get to the fight and take care of business.
“We’re letting the roosters go. It’s time to fight.”
Mayweather, who turns 39 next month, retired at 49-0 after winning a unanimous 12-round decision over Andre Berto last September.