The Wikipedia community defines luck as “fortune which occurs beyond one’s control, without regard to one’s will, intention, or desired result.” This same word was unapologetically linked to Danny Garcia’s left hand in the aftermath of his match against Amir Khan in July of this year. Many fans did not give the Philly native just credit for the knockdown and subsequent win, instead claiming it was a product of right place-right time, Khan’s sensitive whiskers, and a little luck of the Irish— err Boricua.
When Danny “Swift” met the legendary, yet washed-up, Erik Morales at the Barclay’s Center three months later and rocked him with the same left hook; he flipped the opinions of a few non-believers and gained a lot of fans in the process. “How can it be luck if he landed the same exact punch twice!?” people argued as they walked to the subway on the corner of Atlantic and Flatbush.
My argument was, and has continued to be, the same. It was not luck. But as a realist I urge us to embrace objectivity for a second (I know that’s hard to do, fight fans) and keep in mind that the departure of the “lucky” label does necessarily mean the arrival of the “legendary” one.
In the Khan fight, Garcia looked for a knockdown with that left hook a dozen times before he finally landed it. “So, what? Are you saying it was lucky?” One might ask. No. Not at all. But you don’t need a PhD in statistics to know that when playing Roulette, you will always have a 1 in 38 chance of hitting Red 23 every single time the wheel is spun.
I’m well aware of the fact that the above analogy doesn’t give credit to the respective defenses of Khan and Morales but I urge you to go back and watch the tape of the minutes leading up to the flashbulbs instead of just gawking at the flashiness of the knockdowns.
Khan dominated Garcia, exposed his weaknesses, and made it seem as if they were in two entirely different classes of boxers in the first two rounds of their match. Danny landed just 18 of 97 in the first six minutes and was being controlled by Khan’s sharp jabs and combinations. I have a sneaking suspicion that the real Danny Garcia is closer to this version than the one we saw during a few split seconds when he landed his now “signature” left hook. But how easy we forget mediocrity when someone hits the canvas or a jaw is broken.
At the elite level of this sport, one punch can change the game and while Danny may not have been lucky, he’s far from the second coming. Golden Boys’ Richard Schaefer called the punch “one of the most spectacular knockdowns [he has] ever seen.” I’m sure the guy has seen a lot of fights so I’m not entirely sure if that’s promoter-speak or not, but we all saw the punch and can probably agree that it was as impressive and memorable as knockdowns can get in this sport.
In a world where mandatory defenses are not really all that mandatory and Duane Ford believes that Timothy Bradley gave Manny Pacquiao a boxing lesson, we really shouldn’t be surprised that Danny Garcia, the same boxer that struggled mightily with Ashley Theophane and was being utterly dominated by Amir Khan before landing a money-punch in the 3rd round, is the Ring Champion at 140 lbs and “THE” star of the division.
On February 9th, Garcia will enter the ring against a 35 year-old Zab Judah, who’s coming off TKO victory against Vernon Paris in March of this year. Schaefer was eyeing that matchup since prior to Garcia-Morales II and has said that he’s “sure we’ll have a full house at the Barclay’s Center,” for that fight.
Garcia, not short on confidence, has said that his “job is to train hard, be focused in the gym and destroy whoever they put in front of [him].” He expects Judah to be no exception.
If his prediction proves to be accurate, and he disposes of Judah as his new legion of supporters expect him to do, the only direction to turn is back toward Khan or, possibly worse for the Garcia camp, toward the rock and hard place that is Lucas Matthysse.
If Garcia gets past Judah, which I believe is no sure thing, and either of those match-ups occur, I think this nice ride that Golden Boy has been on this year, will finally come to an end.
That’s not to say that Danny Garcia’s career as a boxer will be over. That’s far from the truth. The young man has a very bright future ahead of him and we’ll likely be seeing him headlining cards for years to come. But I do believe that no one expected this year to go down the way that it has with Danny, which is why Oscar and co. are pairing him up with Judah instead of Matthysse. They’re taking a page out of the Book of Canelo and want to ride this out a little longer.
A young, hungry, charismatic, Philly native, supported by Bernard Hopkins, managed by Al Haymon, with a boisterous father who just happens to be his trainer is must-see-TV as is. Knocking out a future Hall of Famer and one of boxing’s biggest global stars in the same year was just the sweet icing on the cake.
This is as pleasant as surprises can get in the world of boxing and you can’t help Golden Boy for wanting to knock it out of the park once more when it’s teed up so nicely.
The Danny Garcia show has been a lot of fun but, as all of the best ones have done before it, it’s only a matter of time before it jumps the shark.