By Jake Donovan
Danny Garcia’s pro debut came in Nov. ’07, a fight buried on the non-televised undercard of an HBO headlining bout between Joan Guzman and Humberto Soto.
The fight took place in Atlantic City, just an hour and change from his Philadelphia hometown. Still, Garcia played to a virtually empty room as he scored a 1st round knockout over Mike Denby in the evening’s curtain raiser.
Similarly bare surroundings were to be found for the majority of his fights through two years in the pro ranks. Always a fan of the sport, there was an appreciation to serving in supporting capacity to main events featuring such boxing stars as Floyd Mayweather, Manny Pacquiao, Oscar de la Hoya, Joe Calzaghe, Ricky Hatton and fellow Philly fighter Bernard Hopkins.
Still, sitting amongst a capacity crowd far differs to fighting in such an atmosphere.
“I feel blessed,” Garcia (22-0, 14KO) says of his first HBO-televised main event, which comes in a title challenge against Erik Morales this Saturday in Houston. “It’s been a long ride from going on the undercard of a big fight to actually being the main event. I’m here now and ready to be champion.”
It wasn’t until Hopkins decided to stage a homecoming in Dec. ’09 – his first fight in more than a year at that point – that Garcia was able to enjoy face time in front of the camera. The former amateur standout made his televised debut, appearing in the VERSUS-televised co-feature in knocking out Rey Colin in the chief support to Hopkins’ points win over Enrique Ornelas.
Garcia has fought seven times since then, all of which appeared in some form of televised coverage. This weekend’s challenge against Morales (52-7, 36KO) is by far the biggest of his young career, also with the potential of being forced to play the evening’s villain given his opponent’s wild popularity.
Whether it’s boos or cheers he hears over the course of the evening, it will certainly beat the echoing sounds of punches being thrown in a room full of empty chairs.
“When I was the undercard and saw the main event come, I knew I had a lot of work to do,” Garcia recalls. “When I fought, there weren’t a lot of people there and when the main event there was a lot of people. It was a lot of hard work getting here.”
‘Here’ is not the final destination for Garcia, but rather the beginning or so he hopes. The short-term goal is to leave the ring victorious. The long-term goal is to one day replace – or at the very least, replicate – Morales’ status as a cult favorite.
“I’m excited to be here. I want all of the fans to come out here and support the greatness of boxing. Come the 24th there will be a new star in boxing.”
Jake Donovan is the Managing Editor of Boxingscene.com. Follow Jake on Twitter: @JakeNDaBox or submit questions/comments to [email protected]