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Mikey Garcia ready to erase doubts at welterweight against Jessie Vargas

For 39 professional fights, Mikey Garcia didn’t know what it felt like to lose. He’d risen through the ranks on his way to becoming a four-division world champion and being regarded as pound-for-pound one of the best fighters in boxing by taking the hardest challenges along the way.

That was certainly the case when Garcia jumped up two weight classes to battle IBF welterweight champion Errol Spence Jr. in front of over 47,000 people at AT&T Stadium, the home of the Dallas Cowboys, back in March of last year.

However, things didn’t go Garcia’s way, and Spence dominated from the opening bell to win a lopsided decision. Eleven months later, the fire is reignited, and Garcia comes back to the ring on Saturday versus Jessie Vargas at the Ford Center at The Star in Frisco, Texas, live on DAZN.

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“That fight isn’t indicative of who I am and what I’m capable of doing,” Garcia said. “The last fight doesn’t represent who I am. It was just one of those nights where I just couldn’t get off or do anything. I feel this a good way to get back on track against a big name in search of winning a world title in a fifth different weight class. I know there’s a lot more I can deliver, and that’s what this fight is all about.”

Garcia (39-1, 30 KOs) had plenty of routes on who to take on for his in-ring return.

He could have easily taken a tune-up in the welterweight division. However, that’s not the mindset Garcia possesses.

It’s about taking the toughest matchups — ones that will further establish himself and help him be remembered after his career is over.

That’s why Garcia is excited about facing Vargas, who checks all the boxes that he’s looking for. Vargas (29-2-2, 11 KOs) is a former two-division world champion and has taken on Manny Pacquiao and Tim Bradley and brings an exciting style to the table.

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Niners get kwon Alexander, others back for Saturday

Linebacker Kwon Alexander will be back on the field Saturday when the 49ers open the playoffs, but he likely won’t step into his old every-down role quite yet.

Alexander is just nine weeks removed from surgery to repair a torn pectoral. He returned to practice last week and still on IR.

The 49ers plan to activate him to the 53-man roster to play Saturday versus the Minnesota Vikings at Levi’s Stadium in the NFC divisional round.

The 49ers know what to expect from Alexander. But they also do not know exactly what to expect.

“I know Kwon will fly around,” 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan told NBC Sports Bay Area. “He’ll hit. He’ll be energetic. He’ll get everyone going. I think everyone will feel his energy on the field. And we’ll see how it goes.

“We’re not going to throw him out there, just down-in and down-out. But we don’t have a plan, where it’s only going to be ‘this’ amount. He’s looked good in practice, but we’re also not laying people out in practice.”

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Rookie Dre Greenlaw played the weakside linebacker position during the second half of the season in Alexander’s absence.

Greenlaw made the big defensive play of the season in Week 17 when he stopped Seattle Seahawks tight end Jacob Hollister just inches short of the goal line on a late-game fourth-down play.

The tackle preserved the 49ers’ 26-21 victory and wrapped up the NFC West and home-field advantage in the playoffs.

The 49ers’ three linebacker positions are similar, so the team will have some decisions to make on how they want to use Greenlaw and Alexander alongside middle linebacker Fred Warner.

Shanahan said a lot of the team’s in-game decision-making will be in reaction to Alexander’s effectiveness.

“You got to wait to see how the tackling goes and how he feels,” Shanahan said. “(He is) someone we’ll be communicating with throughout the game.”

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