By Andreas Hale
On September 14, 2013, Danny Garcia silenced all of his naysayers with a 12-round unanimous decision against Lucas Matthysse. It was a fight that many expected Garcia to lose on a huge stage (Mayweather-Canelo). However, Garcia proved them all wrong by turning back Matthysse’s pressure with a measured attack and a solid jab. It was supposed to be Garcia’s breakout moment.
But it wasn’t.
What has happened since Garcia’s big victory against Matthysse is a head-scratching sequence of events where Garcia’s stock has taken a hit despite winning his next six fights. A combination of lackluster performances and poor matchmaking have hurt the once promising (actually, still promising) 29-year-old Puerto Rican with a record of 33-1 (19 knockouts).
It started with his homecoming of sorts fight when he faced Mauricio Herrera in Puerto Rico six months after beating Matthysse. What was thought to be a showcase fight ended up becoming a near disaster as Garcia escaped with a majority decision that many onlookers thought he lost.
Rather than rebuild his credibility in his next fight as the WBA (Super), WBC, The Ring and lineal light welterweight champion, Garcia opted to face Rod Salka. It was an terrible mismatch that Garcia took advantage of and scored a 2nd round KO. Unfortunately, nobody cared. He stepped up his competition a bit when he squared off with Lamont Peterson — who was stopped in three rounds by Matthysse — the following April. Once again, Garcia squeezed out a victory after Peterson’s movement gave him a great deal of problems early on. If Peterson would have stepped on the gas a round earlier, he may have pulled off a decision.
Things didn’t get better as Garcia teed off on a pair of fighters whose best years were behind them in Paulie Malignaggi and Robert Guerrero. He won both fights and took hold of the vacant WBC welterweight title by beating Guerrero. However, the naysayers were out in full force considering that the likes of Shawn Porter and other quality names had allegedly called out Garcia to no avail. Samuel Vargas was the next overmatched victim who was stopped in seven rounds. But with no place to go, Garcia’s next fight would find him against Keith Thurman in a battle of unbeaten. Thurman controlled much of the fight but eased off on the aggression in the later rounds and nearly gifted Garcia the decision. Judges saw it in favor of Thurman and Garcia’s unbeaten record now had a blemish.
With the Thurman loss in his rearview, Swift’s team decided that it would be best for him to take on Brandon Rios on February 17, 2018. But this isn’t the Bam Bam who plowed through opponents as a lightweight. Rios’ best years are clearly behind him as he’s suffered losses to Timothy Bradley, Manny Pacquiao and Mike Alvarado in his previous six fights. The name is all that matters for Garcia’s team and they will gladly cash another check before taking on tougher opposition.
This may not necessarily be 100% Garcia’s fault, but he has to take a little bit of the blame by way of his matchups or his performances. He’s an excellent counterpuncher with a scintillating left hook that will put just about anybody down. The problem has been that he plays to the level of his competition and doesn’t always look as great as he should against lesser opposition. The other side of this is that he has been challenging names that many would file in the “has been” section of the boxing catalog.
The 147 pound division is stacked with talent and Garcia isn’t going to be able to avoid the more dangerous names much longer. This wouldn’t be as much of an issue if Garcia didn’t say the things he has said in the media.
Recently, Garcia questioned whether Terence Crawford — who many peg as the #1 pound for pound fighter in the world — is a top 10 contender in the welterweight division. And in order to face Garcia, Crawford would first have to take on Errol Spence Jr.
“The fight can always happen. When we fight, we want to make a lot of money,” said Danny Garcia to Fighthype. “You got to build up to that. He still has got to make his way into the division. He didn’t fight nobody in the division yet. You can’t even say somebody is even top 10 if they never fought nobody in the division yet.”
The funny thing about this is that most see Spence as the next pound for pound great and Garcia is suggesting that two top tier talents square off before they face him. It’s utterly ridiculous that Garcia, who just lost to Thurman and is no longer a champion, would say that Crawford needs to fight Spence before facing him. What exactly has Garcia done to elevate himself above either fighter? The Matthysse fight is so far in the rearview mirror that he can no longer hang his hat on that victory.
The truth of the matter is that Danny Garcia needs to start calling out the likes of Shawn Porter, Errol Spence Jr., Terence Crawford and the like in order to gain respect. As a welterweight, he has yet to beat top tier competition and has been called “Cherry (Picker)” Garcia because of it. Brandon Rios is yet another money grab that the Philly fighter is taking rather than accepting a challenge to face Spence.
It’s not that Garcia isn’t a good fighter, but he isn’t acting like one. He’s been matched up poorly and hasn’t executed like he should. The momentum he had after beating Matthysse is long gone and the skeptics are questioning whether he was ever that good to begin with. He can silence the naysayers by challenging the upper crust of the division and performing.
The potential has always been there for Danny Garcia. It’s now time to follow through because nobody is up for entertaining this charade any longer.