Shawn Porter hoped he would challenge welterweight world titlist Keith Thurman in a rematch this fall for a chance to avenge a close decision loss in 2016 and win a 147-pound belt for the second time. Although that fight won't happen he landed a fight just as interesting and significant against fellow former titlist Danny Garcia.
With Thurman sidelined by injury since his decision win over Garcia to unify belts 16 months ago, Thurman-Porter II was a no-go. Thurman was unable to make the mandatory defense against Porter in a timely fashion, so he relinquished one of his titles.
To fill the vacancy, Porter was ordered to face Garcia in a highly anticipated showdown between two of the best in boxing's deepest weight division.
They've known each other for years, and a fight between them has long been discussed, but now it's reality. They met face to face at the kickoff news conference Monday in New York to discuss their battle on Sept. 8 (Showtime, 9 p.m. ET) at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn.
"I think for a long time, watching Danny do what he does and hearing him say what he'd do to me, I got stirred up to the point where I really wanted this fight," Porter said. "I made that known after his fight against Brandon Rios (in February) and I think that's why we're here right now.
"This is a great opportunity to get the fight I wanted for my career. I'm thriving right now, and you'll see it all on fight night. The belt is all I want. Winning a title is always special, but beating Danny Garcia for it will be icing on the cake. He's been a top fighter for a long time, and this win will help solidify me. Once I have the belt, the sky's the limit."
After his loss to Thurman, Porter (28-2-1, 17 KOs), 30, of Las Vegas, won his next two fights to set up the title shot -- a ninth-round knockout of former two-time titleholder Andre Berto 15 months ago in a title elimination bout followed by a clear unanimous decision (117-111 on all three scorecards) against Adrian Granados in November.
Garcia (34-1, 20 KOs), 30, of Philadelphia, also the former junior welterweight world champion, rebounded from his loss to Thurman to stop Rios in the ninth round of a tougher fight than many expected. Now he figures to face an even sterner test against Porter for high stakes.
"I'm excited for this fight because I'm a world championship-level fighter and this gives me the chance to be back where I've been for so long," Garcia said. "It doesn't matter who it is, I'm just happy to be back and fighting for the title.
"The loss against Keith Thurman hurt me for a little bit. I thought I finished the fight strong and won. At the end of the day though, I feel motivated again. I feel more motivated now than I did before the fight. There's something different inside of me. There's no pressure on me, I'm just going to come to fight. We can dance if he wants, but I guarantee I'm coming to bang with him in the middle of the ring. I feel I'm the stronger puncher, have the faster hands and am the better all-around fighter."
Both fighters are very confident that they have what it takes to emerge from the fight with the belt.
"All of my abilities -- power, quickness, the whole nine will help me get this victory," Porter said. "To beat Danny Garcia, you have to use your whole arsenal, especially beating him in the fashion we want to beat him in. We want to look great. We have seen Danny in the ring with different fighters with different styles. You can be aggressive and beat him, you can use the ring and outbox him. We are going to use them all."
Said Garcia: "This wasn't the first time someone has called me out, and it won't be the last. Come Sept. 8, I will show the world once again why I am one of the best. At the end of the day, I have to go in there and make adjustments and do what I do best. I'll set the tempo and the pace and take it one round at a time.
"My mindset is fully focused on Sept. 8. I have to go grab this title, and then you can ask me to fight anyone. I've never turned down an opponent in my career. I'm a fighter, and this is what I do."
Porter and Garcia are both trained by their fathers, who also weighed in on the fight.
"They will not be prepared for us on fight night," Kenny Porter said. "The biggest thing is to make sure is that Shawn is ready. We're going to have a solid game plan that Shawn will know how to implement. We're going to make Danny adjust to us."
Angel Garcia, Danny's outspoken father, was at it again.
"I don't see anything special in Shawn Porter. He comes with his head, he comes wild," he said. "We're going to take care of him, and we're going to work on him. He's not bringing anything to the table that I haven't seen before. It's Danny's time. At the end of the day, we got a fight. Words are just words. Listen, when Danny hits him on the right side, he's going to feel it on the left. My son's power is like nothing he's ever seen before. ... That belt is coming home with us and back to Philadelphia."
Promoter Lou DiBella, who is co-promoting the card with TGB Promotions, has watched Porter and Garcia fight for years and has the same opinion that so many others have -- that the fight could go either way.
"Shawn has come out on the short end a couple of times, and clearly those fights could have been scored differently. They were sensational fights as all of his bouts tend to be," DiBella said. "Danny Garcia doesn't get enough respect. He gets out there and wins. He's a great fighter who does everything well, which makes him extremely dangerous.
"These guys have earned this opportunity, and the winner deserves the belt. The winner will get one of the biggest fights in the sport after this. Both guys are professionals who know the stakes on Sept. 8."