By Jake Donovan
It didn’t take long for the grumbling and collective eye-rolling to begin once Showtime and Golden Boy Promotions announced the lineup for the August 9 show at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York.
Unbeaten super lightweight king Danny Garcia and Lamont Peterson - an alphabet titlist in the same weight class – were rumored for the show for weeks, but will appear in separate bouts rather than in a head-on collision. Garcia defends his crown versus unheralded Rod Salka, whose biggest win came two divisions south in an upset of previously unbeaten 130 lb. prospect Alexei Collado this past April.
In the co-feature, Peterson faces New York-based Edgar Santana, while Brooklyn’s own Daniel Jacobs faces Jarrod Fletcher in a middleweight title fight.
On paper, the show hardly moves the needle, especially considering what could have been. Original plans called for a showdown between unbeaten welterweights Shawn Porter and Kell Brook, which left fans hoping that the placement of Garcia and Peterson on the same show would lead to a direct clash, which – coupled with the aforementioned welterweight fight and also Jacobs-Fletcher – would make for a heck of a tripleheader.
Instead, fans are left with what amounts to a night of stay busy fights for two top 140 lb. fighters with the mere hope that it will lead to their eventually meeting in the ring.
It’s not the first time that Showtime and Golden Boy have been criticized for a proposed card in 2014. On paper, the shows have lacked the eye-catching lineups with which fans were met in a terrific 2013 boxing season that saw the network dramatically close the gap with rival HBO in the race for the industry leader for big time boxing.
In reality, the first half of the Showtime season hasn’t been as bad as was thought to be the case prior to fight night.
I don't think anyone gave Mauricio Herrera enough credit and a big chance to give Danny Garcia a challenge back in March; we saw what happened there,” points out Showtime Vice President of Communications Chris DeBlasio, using Garcia’s last fight as an example that fights are fought in the ring, not on paper.
Garcia’s disputed points win over Herrera served as his first pro fight in Puerto Rico, which to date rates as the highest-rated Showtime event of 2014. But it’s hardly the lone example of fights airing on the network that turned out to far surpass expectations.
“I don't think Yoshihiro Kamegai got a lot of credit when he was coming into this fight with Robert Guerrero,” DeBlasio says of the June 21 slugfest from Carson, Calif., which many consider to be a strong candidate for Fight of the Year. So too, was another perceived mismatch from Showtime.
“No one gave John Molina, Jr. (a chance with) Lucas Matthysse, this list goes on and on,” DeBlasio continued. “Andrzej Fonfara against (lineal light heavyweight champion Adonis) Stevenson, we saw an incredible fight there and an incredible challenge.”
The only bout among the lot on which Golden Boy did not have its thumbprint was Stevenson’s close call over Fonfara in May. However, the California-based promotional company believes there will be more entries to come on a card few are giving a chance to shine.
"All three of these world champions will be put to the test August 9th as they face the most dangerous opponents in boxing... the underdogs,” claims Oscar de la Hoya, President of Golden Boy Promotions, in reference to challenges that await Garcia, Peterson and Jacobs (Writer’s note: Jacobs is not a champion, his fight with Fletcher is for a vacant alphabet title). "Rod Salka, Edgar Santana and Jarrod Fletcher, each of these fighters will have the chance to showcase their heart and desire and to prove the doubters wrong.”
Jake Donovan is the Managing Editor of BoxingScene.com, as well as a member of Transnational Boxing Ratings Board and the Boxing Writers Association of America. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox