PHILLY BOXING HISTORY - January 23, 2016  
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Story by John DiSanto
Photos of Garcia by Mark J. Terrill / Associated Press


Danny Garcia scored a 12-round unanimous decision over Robert Guerrero at the Staples Center in Los Angeles Saturday night to capture the vacant WBC welterweight title, a championship put up for grabs by the retirement of Floyd Mayweather. Garcia overcame a sluggish start, but was in control of the fight by the time the final bell sounded. All three official judges scored the fight 116-112.

A 10-1 favorite going into the bout, Garcia's victory also earned him the distinction of becoming just the fourth champion in Philadelphia boxing history to earn a title in two different weight classes. Garcia held the junior welterweight crown for more than three years before moving up to the 147-pound division last summer. The win pushed Garcia's record to 32-0, 18 KOs.

Garcia joins Philly legends Benny Bass, Meldrick Taylor and Bernard Hopkins as multi-class champs from the City of Brotherly Love.

Benny Bass won the vacant NBA featherweight championship on September 12, 1927 with a 10-round decision over Red Chapman at South Philly's Municipal Stadium. After one defense (W10 Pete Nebo) and four non-title bouts, Bass lost his title to Tony Canzoneri by 15-round decision at Madison Square Garden on February 10, 1928.

Almost two years later, Bass took the NYSAC junior lightweight title with a second round knockout of Tod Morgan at MSG on December 20, 1929. He lost his second crown on July 17, 1931 by seventh round TKO to Kid Chocolate at Shibe Park in North Philly.

Bass fought another 68 fights before retiring, but never earned another title shot. This was a different time in boxing. Had Bass been around today, he probably would have had many more tries for titles during that 68-fight stretch. Further, with the numerous championship belts up for grabs these days, Bass very well may have been champion again had he been a modern fighter. He retired in 1940 with an overall record of 157-28-6, with 72 KOs and 52 No Decisions. Bass' total run as a champion lasted 24 months (5 months at featherweight and 19 months at junior lightweight). 

Decades passed before another fighter from Philadelphia won titles in separate division championships.

Olympic Gold Medalist Meldrick Taylor won his first professional world championship on September 3, 1988, with a 12th round TKO of James "Buddy" McGirt at Trump Plaza in Atlantic City. Taylor defended his belt twice, and held the IBF junior welterweight title until that infamous and heartbreaking loss he suffered to Julio Cesar Chavez on March 17, 1990. Taylor was leading on the scorecards and on the brink of an upset, when Chavez rallied to stop him with just two seconds remaining in the 12th and final round.

Taylor moved up to welterweight and the following year became Philly's second double champ with a 12-round decision over Aaron Davis at the Atlantic City Convention Center on January 19, 1991. Meldrick's welterweight reign lasted 22 months. During that time he made two successful defenses, fought one non-title bout and tried for a third championship, at junior middleweight against Terry Norris.

After losing to Norris by TKO, Taylor defended his title at Earl's Court in London against Crisanto Espana, but lost the belt by TKO in eight rounds, October 21, 1992.

In 1994, Taylor fought a rematch with Chavez for the WBC junior welterweight title, but lost by 8th round TKO. Meldrick retired in 2002 with a professional record of 38-8-1, 20 KOs. His two championship periods lasted a total of 40 months (18 months at 140 and 22 months at 147).

Three years after Taylor lost his second title, middleweight Bernard Hopkins won the IBF 160-pound championship with a 7th round KO of Segundo Mercado on April 29, 1995, at the US Air Arena in Landover, MD. It was Hopkins' third try for a world title.

Hopkins made history as a middleweight by defending his title more than any other past middleweight champion. Bernard made twenty successful defenses and unified the the IBF, WBC and WBA middleweight titles in the process. He lost his belts on July 16, 2005 with a decision loss to Jermain Taylor at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.

After losing an immediate rematch with Taylor, Hopkins jumped to the light heavyweight division and defeated Antonio Tarver by 12-round decision on June 10, 2006 at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City to win the IBO light heavyweight title. With that wn, Philly had its third two-division champion.

Hopkins hit the pause button as WBO champ to engage in a catch weight bout with Winky Wright at 170 pounds, and then challenged Joe Calzaghe for the super middleweight title. A win for Hopkins against Calzaghe would have made him a triple champion, but he lost the 12-round decision.

Bernard returned to the light heavyweight division and eventually added the WBC light heavyweight belt (as well as his old IBO title) with a win over Jean Pascal in Montreal on May 21, 2011. Bernard lost this version of the title to Chad Dawson in Atlantic City on April 28, 2012, but won the IBF light heavyweight title against Tavoris Cloud (W12) in his next bout. Two defenses (and two additional 175-pound belts) followed before Hopkins lost the titles to Sergey Kovalev on November 8, 2014.

Hopkins' legendary middleweight championship run lasted ten consecutive years, while his historic time as light heavyweight champ totaled three years and seven months, once you cobble it all together. Hopkins, 55-7-2, 32 KOs, 2 No Contects, hasn't officially retired yet, but at age 51, chances are pretty good that he won't win another championship. Then again, we've all learned not to doubt Bernard.

Danny Garcia is just beginning his tenure as a two-division champion, and the most exciting part is that at age 27, he has time to go after a third title as well. However, that conversation is for another day. There are plenty of excellent potential matches for Garcia at welterweight. So his schedule should be very full for the next couple of years as he builds his already impressive legacy.




John DiSanto - Philadelphia - January 23, 2016