Unified light welterweight champion Danny “Swift” Garcia makes his long awaited welterweight debut on August 1st at the Barclays Center in New York against former champion Paulie “Magic Man” Malignaggi in the featured bout of PBC on ESPN.

Swift or Gift?

The unbeaten Garcia burst into boxing superstardom after beating and then retiring Mexican legend Erik “El Terrible” Morales in 2012. He also sandwiched a 4th round TKO of British superstar Amir Khan in between his two victories over Morales. But after his impressive 2013 closer against Lucas Matthysse, the man known as “Swift” for his moves and the way he finished his foes has been criticized as the “Gift”.

Garcia started 2014 on the wrong foot when a supposed Puerto Rico homecoming turned into a dog fight with Mauricio “El Maestro” Herrera. Garcia struggled so badly against Herrera that most pundits believed Herrera should have won that fight. Instead of a make-up fight to finish the year, Garcia opted to fight lightweight Rod Salka in August of 2104 which put him in a bad spot the more. Then in his most recent bout last April 2015, Garcia looked bad against former 140-pound champion Lamont Peterson but ended up winning by majority decision, furthering criticisms about his stature.

Weight Problems

But Garcia countered his detractors by saying that he should have moved up to 147 after his win over Matthysse because he started having trouble making weight at 140. Garcia claimed that he lost both his speed and power in his last three fights because of that. Instead of training to get better, he said that he trained to make weight. He may have a point there.

Garcia fought Peterson at a catchweight of 143 pounds and Salka at 142 pounds. During the build-up to the Herrera fight, he was also rumored to be having problems making weight. But is weight really the issue with Danny Garcia? His opponent Paulie Malignaggi thinks that there were a lot of flaws in Garcia’s game which Herrera and Peterson exposed. He believes that if he can execute his game plan, he will finish off what both started and upset Garcia. But does he have what it takes?

The Magic Man

Malignaggi is a two division world champion, having won the IBF 140 pound belt in 2007 and the WBA welterweight title in 2012. He’s beaten the likes of Zab Judah, Pablo Cesar Cano, Vyascheslav Senchenko, Juan Diaz and Edner Cherry. He’s also shared the ring with Miguel Cotto, Amir Khan, Ricky Hatton, Adrien Broner and Shawn Porter. Unfortunately, he hasn’t been as active since 2013.

After beating Zab Judah in December of 2013, his only fight has been a 4th round TKO loss to Shawn Porter in his IBF welterweight title challenge in April of 2014. He’s semi-retired and has spent much of his time being a boxing analyst at Showtime. But he’s kept himself in shape and has long waited for a big chance like this to come his way. Malignaggi believes he can still weave his old magic.

Who Takes This?

Malignaggi may be older at 34, but he’s got the advantage in experience and in the level of opposition he’s faced. However, we all know that Paulie doesn’t have the power in his punches- he’s only got 7 KOs in 33 wins. Against Porter, he made the blunder of going toe to toe with him, and we all know that ended in an early KO loss. Against Garcia, he needs to move away from Danny’s left hook, or else he’ll end up like Morales and Khan.

Malignaggi has excellent boxing skills and footwork that should help him evade Garcia. The question though is does he still have the legs at 34 and after a long layoff? That should be the key to this fight as Garcia will surely try to put a lot of pressure on Malignaggi and smother him. Garcia won’t be afraid to trade with Paulie because he proved against Matthysse that he can take a big punch.

The odds favor Garcia at -900 but even at +550, Malignaggi can’t be taken for granted. Experts are picking this fight to go the distance if Malignaggi uses his bicycle well. Garcia is believed to be the bigger puncher, but he hasn’t felt the punch of a legit 147-pounder yet nor has he tested his power against one. The fight should go the distance with Garcia winning on points. But if Malignaggi takes a chance at brawling, one of them could be going out cold.

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