Danny Garcia pulled off the big upset tonight in Las Vegas, stopping Amir Khan in four rounds to unify his WBC junior welterweight title with the WBA belt Khan brought to the fight, staying unbeaten and making himself a star. Any remaining doubters have now vanished.
Garcia (24-0, 15 KO) was outgunned in the first two rounds by Khan (26-3, 18 KO), but though he lost those rounds, he was hanging tough. Khan's speed advantage was clear, but Garcia kept trying his best to time Khan with counter shots. It was a counter left hook that flattened Khan near the end of the third round, putting the British star on the canvas. When Khan rose, he wobbled all over the ring in a bad way. Referee Kenny Bayless put the fight back into action with 11 seconds left in the round, and Garcia rushed for the finish, but couldn't get it just yet.
It wouldn't be long, though. Khan touched the canvas again early in the fourth, when he was dropped to a knee. Bayless ruled another knockdown there, at which point Khan had only one choice: To try and go toe-to-toe. Garcia, though, stayed measured and cool under pressure, and was able to eat some big shots that Khan did land. Khan also held up fairly well all things considered, but was dropped again with about 40 seconds left in the round.
Khan got to his feet, told Bayless he was good to continue, and then Bayless stopped the fight. The official time was 2:28 of the fourth round.
It was really a hell of a fight, and I think both guys deserve credit. Obviously, first and foremost is Danny Garcia, who won again, still didn't seem to be anything spectacular, but showed exactly what he's made of. The guy's not eye-popping. But he is tough, smart, and crafty at a young age. He can bang, and he can take a shot. He didn't panic when Khan's speed owned the early part of the fight. He just kept looking for that opening, and he found it.
Garcia can go just about anywhere he wants at 140 pounds now, but don't rule out a jump to 147 if there's a major fight there for him. The guy's worth money now. Philadelphia is a great fight city, and he looks like the new star from the city of brotherly love.
But Khan has heart and balls and as Max Kellerman said, he acts like the fighter we want to see. Everyone who praises Arturo Gatti and slams Amir Khan befuddles me -- Khan doesn't have Gatti's chin, but he has a similar warrior spirit. Amir Khan talks a lot, but he also fights hard. His flaws are big and real, and they aren't going to allow him to be the superstar mega-talent he was supposed to be, but forget "supposed to" and focus on what is, I say. Khan's fun to watch every time out, isn't afraid of challenges, and is always welcome on my TV.
This was Danny Garcia's night, though. We've got a new player in big-time boxing.