Danny Garcia has received a lot of criticism over the past year for the various decisions he’s made and the ultimate path shift his career has taken.
It started with Mauricio Herrera bout in March of last year. The fight was supposed to be a celebration for Garcia, who was fighting in Puerto Rico for the first time in his career. The promotion was intended to act as a catalyst for Puerto Rican fans to get behind Garcia in a major way.
Although Garcia was not born in Puerto Rico, his father/trainer Angel Garcia is from Naguabo, Puerto Rico, and the bout acted as a sort of homecoming for the father/son duo.
However, the fight backfired when Danny, who was supposed to handle the handpicked Herrera with some sort of ease, struggled in the fight. The bout went the distance, and many members of the media scored the fight for Herrera. When the scores were announced, and Garcia was awarded the majority decision, fans were vocally displeased and called the fight a robbery.
Herrera received a ton of support and many considered the fight to be controversial because Danny was seen as the money fighter with a perceived advantage on the scorecards, while Herrera was deemed a hard-luck loser without enough commercial appeal to receive a fair decision.
That fight started Garcia’s 2014 campaign in a tumultuous direction, but it was only the beginning of things to come and his reputation in the sport would be tested even further in his next bout. Instead of taking a significant fight in an effort of redeeming his perception amongst vindictive fans, Garcia opted to take a catch weight fight against less than worthy opposition in Rod Salka.
The fight ended up being a ShowTime Championship Boxing main event in August, and it was met with much hostility because fans felt that the pathetic matchup didn’t merit the premium cable spot it got.
Garcia scored a 2nd round knockout over the clearly overmatched Salka. It was an anticlimactic ending, which is both a comment on the disdain fans had for the fight and a rarity considering the viciousness of the knockout.
Lamont Peterson was the co-feature on the Garcia-Salka card, and it was speculated that Peterson and Garcia would meet at the end of 2014. That fight didn’t happen because of the changing landscape of Al Haymon’s business plans, and fans were further disappointed.
However, the fight is now scheduled for April 11th at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York and it will be part of Haymon’s PBC series on NBC (the second scheduled show on the network). You’d think that the fight would finally give Garcia some of his boxing cred back, the same cred he earned for running the junior welterweight gauntlet from 2012-2013. But that hasn’t been the case, at least not completely.
Some have argued that Peterson isn’t enough of a test for Garcia to make up for last year’s disappointing campaign, but that argument is a bit petty. The real guff from fans concerns the catch weight nature of the bout. The problem fans have is Garcia is the 140lb kingpin and Peterson holds a paper title at the weight class as well, but the bout is being contested at 143lbs. Furthermore, this fight will mark the second in a row that Garcia has failed to defend his title.
It is a disappointing enough situation, but the fact that Garcia represents the hierarchy in a division filled with exciting talent makes the nontitle fight that much more disheartening. Still, fans would probably let this fight slide and actually use it as a reason to praise Garcia if all of these reasons weren’t stacked on each other.
After all, Zab Judah wasn’t really consider stiff opposition when Garcia fought him, but very few fight fans criticized the fight because Garcia had built momentum and done so much to that point that Judah was given more credit than he deserved as a worthy lineal title challenger.
However, the same way Garcia built his stardom over time through a series of incredible in-ring feats, he has now hurt his brand doing the exact opposite. Garcia’s reputation is now the direct result of mediocre performances against questionable competition in the span of a year.
I completely understand the grief that Garcia has gotten, and I can say that I share in some of the sentiments expressed by fans on Twitter and other social media outlets, but I can say with confidence that Garcia shouldn’t be completely blamed for his current predicament.
I’m not trying to defend Garcia or paint him as a martyr, but I’m really convinced that his situation is circumstantial. First, if you look at the Herrera fight, then you should realize that he knew it was an event for Garcia to be showcased and that it would be difficult to get a close decision in Puerto Rico.
You can make the argument that fair is fair and even if Herrera realized the risks he still deserved a real chance, and I would agree with that because why else would it be considered a sporting event if the opponent doesn’t have a sporting chance.
However, Herrera didn’t beat Garcia. Yes, Herrera did enough to be considered the winner, but he didn’t produce an undeniable performance complete with moments of brilliance. His performance is only magnified under the context of the issues before the bout started, the same timeframe Herrera realized he was basically going on the road.
As for the Salka fight, well that is bad, no doubt. But Garcia basically had two choices: he either fights Salka or sits out the rest of the year. Al Haymon and Golden Boy were in the kind of conflict that cemented Garcia’s fate, not to mention other Haymon fighters with ties to Golden Boy.
We know now what Haymon’s plan was and you can’t blame him for wanting to keep Garcia-Peterson on ice for his own venture, but you can blame him for forcing Garcia-Salka down our throats through a premium cable straw. That fact is unforgivable in my opinion, but Garcia can’t be blamed for Haymon’s plans, and even if you don’t fully agree, you have to admit that the NBC fight is better for Garcia’s career and the blame is shifted a bit.
Now, as it stands I’m not a huge fan of Garcia-Peterson, and I never was, but not for any of the reasons that others are upset. Yes, it is troubling that the lineal junior welterweight champion is not defending his title against a highly ranked junior welterweight, but I forgive Garcia because I know his time at the weight class is running out and he will mostly likely be an outright welterweight in his next fight.
That is the one benefit to these catch weight fights as it relates specifically to Garcia. If Garcia were to fight at junior welterweight, then he’d undoubtedly take a fight or two between 140lbs and 147lbs to get acclimated to the weight, and against lesser opposition. In this case, Garcia is testing the waters outside of the 140lb weight class against a top tier opponent without 147lb advantage.
It stands to reason that Garcia is only furthering his “big fight” opportunities at welterweight and will be ready for a significant fight at 147 sooner than if he was still defending his belts.
I know the counterpoint to my argument: if Garcia is moving up or can’t make 140 then why not drop the belts? Well, that’s a solid point, but again, the blame doesn’t fall on Garcia.
The WBC released a press release last week giving reasons as to why they’re allowing Garcia to fight Peterson at a catch weight.
The WBC granted Garcia’s request to forego his mandatory title defense against Viktor Postal because Garcia has agreed to defend his title against Postal in his next bout. Furthermore, the number 2 contender and current WBC Silver champion Lucas Matthysse contacted the WBC and stated his desire to fight for the WBC world title again, subsequently the WBC has mandated that the Garcia-Postal winner fight Matthysse immediately following their bout.
This is the WBC breaking their own rules and making special exception for a high-profile fighter that they want to represent their sanctioning body as long as possible. And be clear on this, Garcia might have had a subpar 2014 campaign, but he has earned special exception status with his tenure as the 140lb WBC champion.
That brings us to Postal. The WBC granted Garcia’s request for other reasons that include the step aside agreement between Postal and Garcia. Postal was given step aside money, and the deal also reflected terms that the WBC considered worthy for mandatory postponement.
Again, you can’t fully blame Garcia because Postal had to agree to the step aside deal. The one point that sticks out is Postal’s enthusiastic acceptance of the step aside deal.
From what I’ve been privy to, it appears as though Postal was more than happy to not fight Garcia for the title right now.
It could be that Postal is aware that Garcia is planning to give up the title soon, perhaps right after the Peterson fight, and he could be figuring that he’ll get a softer touch for the vacant title, but that is pure speculation on my part.
Regardless, Garcia isn’t twisting arms, and all parties involved seem more than willing to allow the WBC title to go undefended, yet again.
Garcia isn’t a victim by any means, but these circumstances are unfortunate in the sense that they’ve happened in a consecutive order, thus painting Garcia in an unflattering way. I think Garcia is setting the stage for a big year, and this could end up being a small bump in his road to bigger and better things.