Danny Garcia's light-welterweight title bout jeopardized by opponent's positive test

Posted: October 18, 2012

Saturday night's world-title defense by Juniata Park light-welterweight Danny Garcia is in jeopardy after his opponent tested positive for a banned substance.

According to Golden Boy Promotions, Mexico's Erik Morales failed his drug test and will be reevaluated on Friday morning.

The 36-year-old Morales, who fights out of San Ysidro, Calif., has insisted to the promoters that he is clean.

If the results remain the same on Friday, Garcia could opt to fight a nontitle defense or withdraw.

The two fighters are scheduled to meet for Garcia's unified light-welterweight title on Saturday at Brooklyn's Barclays Center, as the main event on Showtime.

In March, Garcia won his first world title with a unanimous decision over Morales, who was forced to vacate his WBC title before the fight after failing to make weight.

"We need to bring anti-doping to this sport," said Angel Garcia, Danny's father and trainer, last week. ". . . The athlete . . . can have heart failure. They need to understand that."

Angel Garcia said boxers oftentimes think only in the present and don't fully understand the consequences the drugs have.

"We need to keep it an honest sport and bring it back to what it once was," Garcia said. "We need to bring boxing back."

In their first meeting, Garcia entered as an underdog before knocking Morales down in the 11th round en route to the win.

Morales' father, who also trains him, said the weight problem was caused by December gallbladder surgery.

The official weigh-ins for Saturday's card are scheduled for Friday afternoon at the Barclays Center.

If Saturday's fight does take place, expect a lot of action.

Despite his age, Morales possesses good speed and should be able to keep up with the 24-year-old Garcia.

But unlike the first fight, expect Garcia to come out strong in the early rounds and apply constant pressure.

"I know he's going to give everything he has, and I know he's hungry just to beat me," Garcia said. "But, if he's overaggressive he's going to get hurt."

Garcia said his only regret in their first fight was that he allowed Morales to set the pace early on. Now, Garcia said, he's going for a knockout.

After defeating Morales, Garcia earned his first successful title defense and unified the title with a stunning fourth-round knockout of Britain's Amir Khan.

Garcia pressed in the early rounds and absorbed Khan's right-hand blows. But, Garcia was able to neutralize Khan's left jab and began to set the fight's pace.

After he suffered a cut above his right eyelid in the second round, Garcia possessed a sense of urgency. He displayed his speed and punching power before putting Khan on his back with a counter left hook.

The Las Vegas crowd that had booed Garcia during his entrance began to chant his name. And, one round later, Garcia swung freely and landed another hook to win the Ring Magazine belt for which his father yearned.

"That belt unifies him as the best in the world," said Angel Garcia. "To me, little things like that mean big things."

Angel Garcia said he had two dreams for his son - to appear in the Pan-American Games and win a Ring Magazine title.

Danny Garcia was disqualified in the Pan-Am games after he was unable to make weight in 2007. He entered as the favorite to win at 132 pounds but his growing 18-year-old body wouldn't cooperate.

"I was so angry that I went to the airport, jumped on a plane, and left him in Colorado Springs," Angel Garcia said.

For Angel Garcia, the Pan-American Games were bigger than the Olympics. Originally from Puerto Rico, Garcia said the games are a celebration of his Latin ancestry.

"He was so mad," said Danny Garcia, with a smile. "But there was nothing I could do anymore."

The father's discipline and structure carved Garcia's relentless pursuit of a dream to be a world champion. He said the dream was fostered as a 10-year-old boy in a rough Juniata Park neighborhood.

Along with being the trainer of a world champion, Angel Garcia works nearly 40 hours per week as a "looper" at Pep Boys. A longtime car detailer, the elder Garcia now delivers parts from store to store.

Danny Garcia called his father "old school."

"What am I going to do at home?" Angel Garcia said. "That is the question."

Contact Matt Breen at mbreen@phillynews.com, or follow on Twitter @matt_breen.

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