By Cliff Rold
It’s the Apollo Creed line that never gets old: I won but I didn’t beat him.
That’s how Danny Garcia should feel today. He won last Saturday night, retaining the World Jr. Welterweight title. He didn’t beat Mauricio Herrera.
While cries of outright robbery are a tad overstated, Herrera appeared to do enough to earn the crown even as open scoring told viewers throughout that he wasn’t going to get the nod. Adding insult to injury, the one judge who had Herrera leading after eight rounds somehow came out with a draw.
Doing the math, that’s three of the last four rounds of the fight scored to Garcia.
Oh boxing…always finding new ways to make us laugh.
Let’s go the report card.
Pre-Fight: Speed – Garcia B+; Herrera B/Post: B+; B+
Pre-Fight: Power – Garcia B+; Herrera C-/Post: B+; C+
Pre-Fight: Defense – Garcia B+; Herrera B/Post: C+; A-
Pre-Fight: Intangibles – Garcia A; Herrera B+/Post: A; A
The first thing that became clear in the fight was that Herrera was hell of the timing of Garcia. Using a jab and smart angles, Herrera was making Garcia miss early, often, and for long stretches. The tale was told on the faces of both men at the end.
Garcia looked like the fighter who took the worst of it.
That doesn’t mean the champion didn’t have his moments. He did some solid work along the ropes and Herrera endured some big shots, especially in the eleventh. However, this was a fight where punch stats told us little. Garcia landed more power shots according to the button mashers. The eye test told us different. Were Herrera a harder puncher, who knows how things might have gone?
But then he might not be who he is as a fighter.
Herrera was the ring general and the far better defensive fighter on the night but in a fight with several close rounds that he appeared to win, the nods kept going the other way. It happens like that sometimes for the visitor on a show designed to give the champion a celebratory defense.
The fight ended up being one though and Herrera has proven himself a contender. Just as was the case a year ago when Timothy Bradley and Ruslan Provodnikov turned out to be so much more than predicted, Herrera proved a learned man. Losses to Karim Mayfield and Mike Alvarado, and his own win over Provodnikov, forged Herrera into the fighter capable of scaring Garcia on Saturday night.
He’ll go back to the drawing board an attractive foe that could have been a king. Garcia likely will go up to 147 lbs. and look for a win to put this behind him. He’s still in the long range Floyd Mayweather sweepstakes. Garcia will need another night or two to resume the positive momentum he built last year in defeating Lucas Matthysse.
Report Card Picks 2014: 10-6
2008 Olympic Bronze Medalist Deontay Wilder (31-0, 20 KO) landed a left hand, not a right, on Malik Scott (36-2-1, 13 KO) and that was that. It didn’t appear a finishing blow, but it’s apparent that Wilder’s power is legitimate enough anyways. The problem at Heavyweight is there doesn’t seem to be a middle of the class before Wladimir Klitschko to really prepare anyone for the leap in class that comes with the top dog. It’s akin to Jermain Taylor’s evolution at Middleweight where he went from Daniel Edouard to Bernard Hopkins. Can we find out if Wilder is really the goods before Klitschko tests it for certain? The answer might come with the winner of Bermane Stiverne-Chris Arreola II…The rematch between Juan Manuel Lopez (34-3, 31 KO) and Daniel Ponce De Leon (45-6, 35 KO) went a round longer than the first with a less decisive finish. De Leon was hurt but the closing salvo from Lopez was landing on the gloves. Referee Luis Pabon jumped the gun…It might be time for Tomasz Adamek to hang them up.
Cliff Rold is the Managing Editor of BoxingScene and a member of the Transnational Boxing Ratings Board and the Boxing Writers Association of America. He can be reached at [email protected]