Garcia beats Guerrero, wins WBC title

Unbeaten Danny Garcia won the vacant WBC welterweight belt on Saturday night after a unanimous decision victory over Robert Guerrero.

Garcia (32-0-KO18) recovered from a slow start and largely controlled the later rounds to win the crown vacated by the retirement of Floyd Mayweather Jr in just his second welterweight bout.

Mayweather was ringside at the Staples Center in Los Angeles to see judges award the victory to the 27-year-old by three identical scores of 116-112, potentially setting up a rematch with mandatory challenger Amir Khan, who was stopped in the fourth round by Garcia in 2012.

Garcia did not waste his quick opportunity for a 147-pound title shot after a championship-winning career at 140 pounds.

He beat Khan, Erik Morales, Lucas Matthysse and Lamont Peterson at junior-welterweight before moving up to 147 pounds last August with a ninth-round stoppage of veteran Paulie Malignaggi.

And the Philadelphia fighter took charge here with a dominant right hand, out-boxing and punishing Guerrero (33-4-1-KO18) before surviving a frantic 12th round.

Guerrero got off to an impressive start against Garcia, but became less mobile and less effective late in the fight as he fell to his third career loss in a welterweight title fight, following previous defeats against Mayweather and Keith Thurman.

He was more aggressive early on at Staples, following Garcia around the ring and landing big shots while his opponent back-pedalled.

Garcia complained about head-butts, but he gradually gained control of the bout, exploiting Guerrero’s lack of head movement and defence.

The fight turned after Guerrero rocked Garcia with a straight left to the head in the fifth. Garcia recovered and answered with a series of punishing right hands in the sixth.

Garcia exerted control from there, especially in the ninth, but Guerrero occasionally replied before they finished with an all-action 12th round.

An intense exchange of blows in the final round had the crowd standing and cheering with the fighters firing rapid flurries of punches before hugging in the centre of the ring after the final bell.