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Why Danny Garcia was smart to not pursue Floyd Mayweather fight

Kevin Iole
Yahoo Sports

Undefeated fighters who flummox one of the hottest men in the sport generally wind up in a high-profile match worth millions of dollars the next time out.

But not Danny Garcia.

Six months after Garcia outclassed Lucas Matthysse in Las Vegas in September in one of the most significant super lightweight title fights in years, Garcia finds himself away from the spotlight taking on a relatively unknown opponent.

The win did not put his name into the Floyd Mayweather Derby, as it seemed it should have. Rather, Amir Khan, a guy Garcia knocked out in a one-sided manner, was one of two finalists for the spot that ultimately went to Marcos Maidana.

He'll take on Mauricio Herrera on Saturday in Bayamon, Puerto Rico, in a bout televised on Showtime in a match far less anticipated than his last few outings.

As hard as it might be to believe, it's all just fine with Garcia, too.

Garcia was brilliant in defusing the powerful Matthysse on the undercard of Mayweather's one-sided rout of Canelo Alvarez. His victory over Matthysse tagged him as unquestionably the class of the 140-pound division and seemed to set him up for a series of big fights.

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Danny Garcia (R) and Lucas Matthysse trade blows during their September bout. (USA Today)

Herrera, though, isn't a particularly big name and his one shining moment came in a loss, when he gave Mike Alvarado a few rough patches during a 2012 bout in Las Vegas.

Garcia, though, is as soft-spoken as his father/trainer, Angel Garcia, is outspoken, outrageous and outlandish. And after discussing the possibilities, Garcia was fine with Herrera and sticking around at 140.

"I'm 27-0 and I've got the titles and I got to this point by listening to my team," Garcia said. "I don't like to get involved too much in the business parts of it. I'm a fighter and I just fight who they tell me to fight. That's worked pretty well for me and I decided that is how I want to keep doing things."

In his last five fights, Garcia has beaten Erik Morales, Khan, Morales again, Zab Judah and Matthysse, all of whom were ex-world champions.

One has to go back to a Feb. 25, 2011 match in San Diego against John Figueroa to find the last time Garcia didn't either fight for a world title or face a person who held a world title fight at one point.

Golden Boy CEO Richard Schaefer said Garcia had indicated to him after the Matthysse fight that he wanted to stay at 140 for at least one more fight and make another defense of his WBA and WBC belts.

With those marching orders in hand, Schaefer set out to find an opponent and found the pickings slim.

"I don't know another fighter in this sport who has fought bigger names back-to-back-to-back-to-back like Danny Garcia has done," Schaefer said. "But when I went out to look for an opponent for him for this fight and I looked at the available landscape, there weren't a lot of those guys available.

"Danny had told us he had a dream to defend the title in Puerto Rico and this was an opportunity for us to give him that opportunity. And with Herrera being Mexican and the rivalry being what it is between Mexicans and Puerto Ricans, it made a lot of sense."

It made a lot of sense on a lot of levels. The big-money option would have been Mayweather, and had he told Schaefer he wanted it, Garcia might have emerged as the frontrunner and been Mayweather's choice.

But Mayweather is an altogether different story from guys like Morales, Khan and Matthysse. He is a master boxer, he's on another level conditioning-wise and he has the ability to destroy a developing boxer's confidence fairly easily.

So while Garcia would have gotten more money in the short run by fighting Mayweather, he might have wound up worse off in the long run.

If and when he finally fights Mayweather, he'll be as ready as he possibly can be.

"As a fighter, you always want those kind of fights and who doesn't want to see if they can be the one who beats Mayweather?" Garcia said. "It's everyone's dream to get a big fight like that. But no one on my team thought it was a good idea at this point in my career.

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Danny Garcia celebrates his win over Zab Judah. (USA Today)

"You don't change what has worked in midstream and listening to my team has worked. So I stayed with it."

He should handle Herrera on Saturday to retain his titles and then who knows where he'll wind up.

Golden Boy matchmaker Eric Gomez first spied Garcia during the Olympic trials and came away a believer. Nothing he's seen since has changed his mind.

"We are presenting a main event with the fighter of the moment, one of the best pound-for-pound boxers in the world, Danny Garcia, and this is particularly special for me because I saw him grow," Gomez said.

"His style was unique. He packed a combination of Tito Trinidad, Wilfredo Gomez, Miguel Cotto and Juanma [Lopez's] styles, which is truly impressive."

What's most impressive is that Garcia has grown at the box office and at the gate. Golden Boy has the luxury of time with him, as Garcia won't turn 26 until March 30, and is only now entering his prime.

There will be time down the road for a bout with Mayweather, who has the Maidana match and three other fights left on his contract.

"He's just coming into his own and he can sell tickets as he showed at the Barclays [Center in New York] and he can fight and he's really the total package," Schaefer said. "He's so advanced for his age and his experience, you don't realize that he's still learning. But he's quite the champion already and has a great future in front of him.

"What we want to do is to keep putting him in the right fights at the right time and watch how far he goes with it."

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