Danny Garcia is used to being an underdog despite being undefeated

Danny Garcia continues to be labeled an underdog, despite never having lost a bout in his career. Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

Danny Garcia is an undefeated world titleholder. He has unified belts in one weight class and is on the verge of doing so in another at age 28. Yet, Garcia is ever the underdog.

Garcia wasn't supposed to beat Amir Khan when they met to unify junior welterweight world titles in 2012. But guess what? Garcia drilled him in the fourth round.

When Garcia met division boogeyman Lucas Matthysse in a 2013 title defense, he wasn't supposed to make it to the final bell. The heavy-handed Matthysse was the major favorite. But guess what? Garcia hurt him, dropped him and won a well-deserved unanimous decision. Matthysse hasn't been the same since.

When Garcia faced fellow titleholder Lamont Peterson in a non-title catchweight fight in 2015, many thought Peterson's skills would trump Garcia's. But guess what? Garcia won a hotly contested majority decision to remain undefeated.

All Garcia does is win, baby.

Philadelphia's Garcia (33-0, 19 KOs) has won every fight of his 10-year professional career and is heading into the biggest fight of his career as -- you guessed it -- an underdog.

He takes on Keith Thurman (27-0, 22 KOs) Saturday in a welterweight world title unification bout that looms as one of the biggest fights of the year (CBS, 9 p.m. ET) at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York. But Garcia's underdog status is nothing new and it doesn't even remotely ruffle his feathers. He is used to it.

"This is nothing new to me," said Garcia, who will be making his first defense while Thurman will be making his fourth. "I've been the underdog in a unification fight [against Khan]. At the end of the day, [father and trainer] Angel and I -- we're going to come out with a great game plan and get the victory. I will have my hand raised at the end of the night."

In the co-feature, Erickson Lubin (17-0, 12 KOs), the 21-year-old 2016 ESPN.com Prospect of the Year from Orlando, Florida, will take on Jorge Cota (25-1, 22 KOs), 29, of Mexico, in a junior middleweight world title elimination fight that will earn the winner a mandatory shot against the winner of the fight between titleholder Jermell Charlo (28-0, 13 KOs) and Charles Hatley (26-1-1, 18 KOs).

Garcia was a quality amateur but did not come into professional boxing with a silver spoon in his mouth and huge expectations. He worked his way up the ladder by beating good opponents and earning everything he has received, even if some like to downplay his accomplishments because of a few soft fights he has had in recent years.

"The critics will be the critics. They don't know what I can do," Garcia said. "I've been here before. It's not new to me. But at the end of the day, I know what I can do and I'm a great champion. I'm a true champion, and that's what I'm going to show on [Saturday]."

In 2011, Garcia outpointed his first two notable opponents in consecutive fights, former lightweight titlist Nate Campbell and former junior welterweight titleholder Kendall Holt, one of Thurman's sparring partners for this fight. Then Garcia outpointed faded future Hall of Famer Erik Morales to win a vacant 140-pound title, followed by the Khan victory that really put Garcia on the map.

"I faced adversity my whole life, not just in boxing, but in the street life of Philadelphia," Garcia said. "I've been facing adversity since I've been a champion. I faced adversity during the Amir Khan fight. He cut me early. He won the first couple of rounds. I came back. I stopped him."

Garcia followed the Khan victory with wins over Morales in a contractually mandated rematch and against former titleholder Zab Judah. Then there was the big upset of Matthysse.

One of the reasons Garcia might not engender the kind of respect his overall résumé should command is because many think he lost his next fight to Mauricio Herrera, though he received a majority decision. Then he got a big-money gift fight in an annihilation of wickedly overmatched Rod Salka. Throw in the derision many have for his wildly outspoken father, and Garcia is one of boxing's most polarizing figures.

"I beat their favorite fighters and they're still mad about it," Garcia said. "I came up the hard way. They don't understand why I'm still here. They don't. I earned my way by beating people. I wasn't sitting next to anyone on a jet promoting me. I created my brand. I created Danny Garcia off the strength of me beating good fighters and nothing else."

After Garcia violently crushed Salka in the second round, he eked out the win against Peterson. Then Garcia moved up to welterweight, where he beat well-known-but-faded opponents Paulie Malignaggi and Robert Guerrero (for a vacant world title). This was followed by another giant mismatch against Samuel Vargas, whom Garcia outpointed in December in a non-title bout that was supposedly a warm-up fight for Thurman.

"The Lucas Matthysse fight, I was the underdog," Garcia said. "He put pressure on me. I dropped him late. The Peterson fight -- he's tough, crafty, you know, veteran champion who's faced everyone in the sport. So everything I've been through in my career led me to this fight. I'm a seasoned 28-year-old. I'm a seasoned champion and I feel good. I've been through a lot of adversity in my life and that's what I live for -- to overcome anything."

Angel Garcia received his corner license from the New York State Athletic Commission on Thursday despite questions about whether he would get it following his wild profanity-filled and racially insensitive rant at the kickoff news conference that also included threats of violence against a woman.

So don't even get him started on his son's underdog status.

"You will see the champion of the world, Danny Garcia, become a unified champion. Danny is a great fighter and he won't be beat," Angel Garcia said. "We're not the underdog here. Danny is the undefeated champion of the world. Thurman is in for a long night. Believe me.

"Thurman is a good fighter and he's been around for a long time like Danny. I respect him, but they made him a champion. Danny became a champion, and there is a difference. Danny is a true champion. [Saturday] he will still be undefeated. Thurman won't have an answer for Danny."

Thurman, 28, of Clearwater, Florida, said he gives Garcia credit for what he has done but believes the winning streak will come to an end Saturday.

"Danny has always won. He has always prevailed in his fights," Thurman said. "But ultimately, looking at the books and everything, and looking at the record -- I think Danny has been in more close decisions than I have been. The closest fight that I've been in was my most recent fight with Shawn Porter, a fighter who knows me very well and somebody who I competed against coming off of injury and a big layoff. We believe that we'll be able to make a statement.

"He just let people be in the fight with him more than I believe fighters have been in the fight with me. I think I've had more dominant decisions over my opponents than Garcia, and that gives me confidence in winning this fight."

If Garcia can beat Thurman -- they're both making $2 million -- he should finally command the respect that should go to a fighter with his résumé and accomplishments. But Garcia is not counting on it.

"I've been underrated my whole career. Every time I beat somebody, there was an excuse, or every time I'm in a tough fight, they're always saying, 'Oh, it was controversial,' whatever, or close fight. It is what it is," he said. "That's the image the media is trying to give me. I know I'm a true champion and the hard work that I'm putting in day in, day out.

"I'm confident in anything I do in life. My job is not really to worry about the media and people underrating me. It is what it is because I know I'm a true champion. And that's it."

You make the call: