Danny Garcia, pictured in 2016, has a 33-0 record with 19 knockoutsDanny Garcia, pictured in 2016, has a 33-0 record with 19 knockouts (AFP Photo/Drew Hallowell)
New York (AFP) - Undefeated champions Keith Thurman and Danny Garcia risk their welterweight crowns Saturday in a showdown that could launch the winner to stardom worthy of Floyd Mayweather or Manny Pacquiao.
Saturday's matchup of unbeaten 28-year-old Americans at Brooklyn's Barclays Center is only the third unification bout between unbeaten welterweight champions, the first since Oscar de la Hoya faced Felix Trinidad in 1999.
"We're young. We're hungry. we're tired of waiting for this to go down," Thurman said Thursday. "I'm really happy to be in this moment, in this limelight. It has been a dream."
"This is the biggest fight of either of our careers."
World Boxing Association champion Thurman, 27-0 with 22 knockouts, and World Boxing Council champion Garcia, 33-0 with 19 knockouts, are stars of the 147-pound division once ruled by Mayweather, who retired undefeated at 49-0 in 2015, and Filipino icon Pacquiao, who holds the World Boxing Organization welterweight throne.
"This is the biggest fight of either of our careers," Thurman said. "This is what we've been dreaming of. It feels like my destiny."
Garcia was a unified WBA and WBC champion from 2012 to 2014 at super lightweight, where he first claimed a world title five years ago. He won the WBC welterweight belt from Robert Guerrero in January of last year and defends it for the first time.
"It has always been a dream of mine to unify most of my weight classes," Garcia said. "I feel good. I feel confident come Saturday night I will be a unified champion again. I live for moments like this.
"Everything in my career has led me to this fight."
Thurman took the WBA title from Guerrero two years ago and makes his third defense.
"The ultimate goal is to unify the division," Thurman said. "It's a great opportunity. The winner is going to be that man to beat at 147 pounds.
"I believe that we will see the next superstar in the welterweight division after we unify these titles. Whoever becomes the undisputed welterweight champion of the world will be on another level."
That could eventually bring fights against Pacquiao, 59-6 with two drawn and 28 knockouts, or Britain's Kell Brook, the International Boxing Federation champion who is 36-1 with 25 knockouts.
But for now, Garcia is eager to keep the focus on the challenge Thurman provides.
"I don't need to add any extra pressure just because it's a big audience. I have to go in there and keep my composure and be the same Danny Garcia that I always am," he said.
"We just have to stay focused on Saturday night. There are no distractions for me. I think everything will go smoothly. People want to see the best fight the best. This is my chance to prove it to the world that I'm one of the best fighters in the world."
Thurman is a favorite with Las Vegas oddsmakers but Garcia shrugs off his unfancied role, saying, "All underdog means is there's a bunch of people that don't know what I can do."