by David P. Greisman
A month after topping Erik Morales for the World Boxing Council’s junior welterweight title, you could find Danny Garcia still riding high on the victory.
And on the night of the Bernard Hopkins/Chad Dawson rematch in Atlantic City, you could find Garcia backstage at Boardwalk Hall. The Philadelphia fighter had made the trip into New Jersey, where he was walking around with a giant WBC medallion around his neck.
BoxingScene.com spoke with Garcia at the arena about his victory and about what’s next.
BoxingScene.com: You’re wearing a WBC medallion proudly around your neck right now. What’s been going on with you?
Garcia: “Yeah. Man, I’ve just been busy. Being champion ain’t easy (laughs). You know, I’m just proud. I’m happy, and I’m ready for the next one.”
BoxingScene.com: So what’s next?
Garcia: “Man, I have no idea, to tell you the truth. This is the first time I can actually say I really don’t know who I’m going to fight. Whoever my manager, whoever Golden Boy want, I just train for the fight.”
BoxingScene.com: I know your mandatory is Ajose Olusegun. Any thoughts about him? Is that a possibility?
Garcia: “Man, like, I never even heard of the dude until he called me out in the press conference, to be honest with you. I never saw him fight. I never heard of him. I heard he’s the No. 1 contender for a long time. Nobody gave him a shot. I don’t know anything about that, but if he’s next, then he’s next. You know, I duck nobody. I fight whoever they put in front of me.”
BoxingScene.com: He’s been saying that it’s either you fight him or you don’t get any fight at all. Is dropping the belt a possibility?
Garcia: “No. I’ma keep the belt, ‘cause if I fight him, he’s going to get beat. If he gets the shot, I’ll be happy to fight him and do what I got to do.”
BoxingScene.com: What kind of boost did that Erik Morales win give to your career?
Garcia: “Aw man, it feels good. I learned a lot from the fight. He’s a real smart fighter. He’s old in age, but he’s the same age as Floyd Mayweather, but he’s smart. I learned a lot of tricks from that fight, and I think that’s a fight I needed to step my game up.”
BoxingScene.com: And in terms of the name recognition that he has, what does that do for increasing your name recognition, your presence in the sport?
Garcia: “It’s really big because a lot of people win vacant titles against no-name fighters. For me to fight a legend and beat a legend on HBO for my first time on HBO — I mean, I fought the guy my first fight on HBO, main event, in Texas, all his fans, against a legend, and I won the fight. It definitely helped my confidence a lot. I’m ready to take it to the next level.”
BoxingScene.com: You’re feeling confident right now. What else do you feel you need to improve on to take it to the next level?
Garcia: “I mean, you always going to have to improve. Just improving every fight. We’re just working on stuff in the gym, getting better, staying sharp, working on defense and offense. We’re just trying to become the complete package.”
BoxingScene.com: Were there certain things that Morales showed you, or that you felt you did against him that you hadn’t done in previous fights?
Garcia: “Well, the one thing I did show is heart. I mean, my nose is — it wasn’t broken, it was just swollen — I was bleeding. I showed my heart. I’m here for a long time. You got to kill me in that ring.”
BoxingScene.com: When do you want to be back in the ring next?
Garcia: “I want to be back in July, but I don’t know what’s Golden Boy’s schedule and Al Haymon’s schedule. I’m just doing my part, and waiting for my turn.”
BoxingScene.com: Are you back in the gym right now?
Garcia: “Yeah, I’m always in the gym, man. I’m always in the gym, and I’m always reading.”
BoxingScene.com: You said being champion means everything. What about the WBC thing? You’re wearing this medallion very proudly around your neck? Does that belt specifically carry a lot of meaning to you?
Garcia: “Well when I was young, I only knew about the green belt. I just knew it was green. I didn’t know it was called the WBC. I just knew I wanted the green belt. The green belt is the legitimate title in boxing. That’s the belt that a lot of fighters had. Joe Louis is on the belt. Muhammad Ali is on the belt. So I think that’s the belt that everyone recognizes. You know, I’m just proud.
BoxingScene.com: Any final thoughts for your fans?
Garcia: “You know, keep supporting me. I fight with heart and emotion. And we’re going to be champion for a long time.”
David P. Greisman is a member of the Boxing Writers Association of America. Follow David on Twitter at twitter.com/fightingwords2 or on Facebook at facebook.com/fightingwordsboxing, or send questions and comments to [email protected]