By Jake Donovan
There seems to be two camps these days when it comes to SHOWTIME-televised cards – those who thank Al Haymon for the opportunity, and those who vilify the high-powered, low-profile adviser.
The latter camp has come out in full force over the upcoming August 9 show, which is headlined by a perceived mismatch between lineal super lightweight king Danny ‘Swift’ Garcia and Rod Salka. The media grilled the fight as a weak challenge for Garcia, considering that Salka—a fringe contender to begin with—is moving up two weight classes from his last fight to campaign in a 142 lb. non-title fight.
Further puzzling is why Garcia isn’t instead facing Lamont Peterson in a unification bout, since both were always slated to appear on the same card at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York. Peterson—who expected to face Garcia on the date—instead defends his alphabet belt versus Edgar Santana, another bout many deem as an unnecessary mismatch.
“It’s boxing. It’s the fight I wanted, but everything happens the way it does,” Peterson (32-1-1, 16KOs) lamented in settling for the optional defense versus Santana. “Win or lose, (a unification bout with Garcia) is the fight I want to happen. Winning the fight would make it more pleasing. It’s really the biggest fight you can make at the weight class. The fans want to see it and I’m willing to do it.”
Garcia (28-0, 16KOs) was far less committal when approached with the same subject, although open to such a fight down the road.
“I don’t pick my opponents. My manager (Al Haymon) does,” Garcia explained. “He picked Amir Khan (whom Garcia knocked out in four rounds). He picked Lucas Matthysse (whom Garcia dropped and outpointed to earn lineal 140 lb. championship status last September). He picked (Mauricio) Herrera. He’s been picking all these good fights for me so I don’t question him. I just go out there and honor the decision. I’m looking forward to an action-packed fight.
“I can’t look past Edgar Santana. At the end of the day, we both have to get these victories. Then we can talk about a unification bout at the end of the year or beginning of next year. If that’s what they want, we’ll go ahead and do that.”
As event handlers continue to justify the piecing together of this card, it seems that all signs to the main event happening simply because that’s what Haymon wanted. Even the chief promoter of the show, Golden Boy Promotions, admits to settling–or claims to have settled–for something other than what all parties initially hoped would be the case.
“We obviously did want to stage a fight that all of the media was suggesting - Peterson versus Garcia,” claimed Oscar de la Hoya, president of Golden Boy Promotions. “It just wasn’t available. It couldn’t be made.”
Absent of the desired matchup headlining the show, Golden Boy does its best to make lemonade.
“It’s going to have it all,” de la Hoya says of the August 9 card, in which the televised portion is rounded out by a middleweight fight between Brooklyn’s own inspiring cancer survivor Daniel Jacobs and Australia’s Jarrod Fletcher. “There are a lot of inspirational stories. Garcia. We have Salka, who served his country. This is a card that has it all.
“Salka is well-deserving. He has a Rocky-like story. We put on a tremendous card from top to bottom. Danny Garcia, Peterson, all of these big name fighters. It’s a perfect fit for the Barclays Center.”
Whether or not it proves to be the perfect fit for fans tuning in could prove to be the difference in thanking or blaming Al Haymon in the end.
Jake Donovan is the Managing Editor of Boxingscene.com, as well as the Records Keeper for the Transnational Boxing Ratings Board and a member of Boxing Writers Association of America.