This is a guest post by Stephie "Crooklyn" Daniels. Follow Crooklyn on Twitter @CrooklynMMA.
Undefeated junior welterweight prospect, Danny "Swift" Garcia, will face his biggest challenge to date when he squares off against veteran superstar, Erik "El Terrible" Morales, for the WBC title next Saturday night on HBO. At just 23 years of age, Garcia boasts an impressive record of 22-0, with 14 of those wins coming by way of knockout. With Morales riding high on an impressive title victory over Pablo Cano, and an epic battle shortly before that with Marcos Maidana, Garcia has his work cut out for him. In a recent interview, he details why he thinks he'll go from contender to champion.
TR: Many boxers relish the idea of defeating a legend. Does it make more of a difference to you that Erik Morales is the man you need to go through to get this title, or is that not a factor at all?
DG: I don't care who has the belt. I don't care who is in there that day. I'm just so excited to be fighting for the world championship. This is my dream. They could switch my opponent at the last minute, and I wouldn't care who it is. I'm going in there to kill.
TR: How are you dealing with the added distraction of extra media attention and the focus on Erik's legendary history?
DG: I usually try to stay away from all that stuff. I believe in myself 110%. I'm in great shape. I feel like he had his time to shine, and now it's my time. I just look at him as just a guy in the way of me becoming world champion. It's time for a new face in boxing. You can't box your whole life. You've got to know when to give it up. I'm so hungry. I've got to get there. I'm going to win it.
TR: You've got to think that Morales isn't looking forward to the prospect of getting in the ring with a fresh, hungry 23 year old, literally bursting at the seams with potential and talent. Is that something you've reflected on?
DG: Definitely. It's funny that you say that, because I was actually talking to my pop the other day, and I said, 'Look man, even Michael Jordan knew when to retire. He saw Lebron James and those guys coming up and he said, 'I can't ball with them guys no more. Let me sit out and watch them play now. Maybe if it was in my day, I could've beat them.' That's how I compare this fight. In with the new and out with the old.
TR: Does his age and the possibility of fading cardio, speed and power give you a boost of confidence going into this fight?
DG: It doesn't really give me confidence because I'm training for a war, for the worst case scenario. I don't really look at his age, because that would be underestimating him, and I never go into a fight over-confident. You always want to feel a little nervous, because it helps your reflexes. I feel like I'm approaching the fight perfectly.
TR: With the epidemic of questionable judging, do you worry about being on the wrong end of a bad decision?
DG: One thing about me, is every time I fight, I go for the knockout. It might not happen, but I always go for the knockout. I never try to leave it in the judge's hands. I learned that in the amateurs. I'm not really going to worry about the judges, though. I'm going to go in there and do my job, and hope that they do their job.
TR: What have you focused on most in your training camp, in preparation for Erik?
DG: No doubt about it, conditioning. I'm making sure I'm ready to go 10, 12 or even 15 rounds, and go strong. He's a veteran, and I already know what he's going to try to do. He's going to try to be calm the first eight rounds, picking his shots, and then try to put pressure on me the last four rounds, because he thinks I'm going to burn myself out. If he thinks that way, he's in for a long night. He's going to use his experience, because that's the only thing he has against me. He's not faster than me. He's not stronger than me. He's not younger than me. A lot of people think his experience will carry him over, but I will take skill and conditioning over experience any day. This is a young man's sport.
TR: I know some boxers travel to different locales to train for fights. For instance, Shane Mosley is training up in Big Bear, California currently. Do you keep your camp primarily in Philadelphia, or do you travel to other locations to train?
DG: I stay in Philadelphia because I'm disciplined. I'm old enough to know what's right and what's wrong. It's obvious what the things you can't do are. You can't go out and party. I just feel like I'm disciplined enough to know what's right and wrong. I stay right here in Philadelphia. I've been doing it my whole career. Why change it now? It's been working.
TR: What are your goals for the future?
DG: My dream goal is to win the 140, 147 and the 154 pound titles. On the 24th, I'll reach one of those goals.
TR: How is your relationship with Golden Boy?
DG: I'm very happy. They gave me the opportunity to shine. I'm also really happy with my management team, Al Haymon. He's the big guy right there. He's put me in all these positions to move forward. He's a powerful man and the best manager in boxing.
Garcia's drive, combined with great speed, conditioning and KO power might just give him the edge when he steps into the squared circle next weekend against Morales. One thing is certain, his eyes are firmly fixed on the prize, so we'll all be in for a good fight. If you're not attending the event at the Reliant Arena in Houston, Texas, you can catch it live on HBO.
Follow Danny via his Twitter account @DannySwift