“Why be nice to someone who wants to kill me?” was the question posed by unified WBC/WBA super lightweight champion Danny “Swift” Garcia, a half-hour after crushing Amir “King” Khan Saturday night at the Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas.
“But no hard feelings.”
A heavy underdog in the fight, Garcia was slated to lose his slice of the 140-pound championship to Khan. Instead, Garcia weathered an early shellacking, then struck back in round three, reintroducing the just-once-KO’d Khan to the canvas, before a round-of-the-year candidate of a fourth round, in which the Philly kid clinched the TKO win after two more knockdowns.
“I knew I was built for this,” Garcia basked, beamed and blazed behind a podium stacked high with a pile of championship leather and brass.
“I’ve never fought on this level before, but knew I was born to be in the limelight. I come from the streets and I’ve said, ‘If I lose this fight, I’ll die in the ghetto.’ You have to kill me in the ring for me to die in the ghetto.
“I don’t have too much to say.”
Garcia, though, had plenty to say. In a release of well-earned emotion, Garcia unleashed words faster than the combinations that sent the spaghetti-legged Khan tap-dancing his way across a canvas in a futile attempt to keep his pins beneath him. Garcia did not hold back, but poured out and popped the press with talk of blood, sweat, tears and Philly-raised grit that raised the bar for the unfazed underdog.
“He was going to knock me out, or I was going to knock him out,” said Garcia. “I said it, he said it.”
Basking in the limelight of his son’s unanticipated usurping of “King” Khan, Angel Garcia hijacked the mic for a fresh round of verbal artillery aimed at the small corps of boxing scribes forced to snack on crow feathers.
“You always took him for a pushover and an underdog,” said the elder Garcia. “Only me and Danny and Golden Boy saw the vision. You guys pick and choose, but Danny’s here to be the new true champion of the world.
“This is only the beginning.”
“I’m the unified champ baby,” Garcia gleamed. “Twenty-four and oh, baby! I’m not shocked, I’m just proud, and I’m going to be around a long time.”
Neither Garcia nor Golden Boy would throw out a next-in-line name for the new unified champ, but Pops took offense when a rematch with Khan was suggested.
“Why fight someone you just beat?” Angel Garcia feigned incredulousness. “That’s like wearing old shoes! You look at the future and not look backwards. Amir Khan is done! He’s over – a three-times ex-champion.”
Though no one was specifically mentioned, Garcia stated that he’d remain at 140 to fight the best out there.
“You don’t have to pamper me,” he said. “I’m a true champ. When these hammers start hitting, they’ll start dropping like flies.”
Khan was a no-show with post-fight affairs, opting for a precautionary MRI at a local hospital, though he was represented by, both, father and trainer.
“He was fighting a good fight and one punch changed it,” said trainer Freddie Roach. “That’s boxing.”
Roach stated that Khan never recovered from the devastating left hook that floored his fighter late in the third.
“I was real close to not letting him off the stool,” said Roach. “’Are you okay, are you okay?’ I asked him. He said, ‘Yeah,’ so we let him continue. It was a real touch-and-go moment.”
The game plan, according to Roach, was to counter Garcia, but that never happened.
“He wanted to go out and knock this guy out,” said Roach. “The plan was to counter. I told him to box and use his jab. In and out. But then his heart got in the way.”
Amir’s father, Shah Khan, was in agreement.
“All he had to do was stay one step away,” he said. “But one shot changed everything. But he’ll come back stronger. No worries.”
Golden Boy CEO Richard Schaefer concurred, but took the opportunity to berate the boxing know-it-alls who’d labeled Khan a heavy favorite.
“What do you know about boxing?” he asked the press. “Very, very little.”
Schaefer reminded those-in-the-know that they’d also been wrong about Victor Ortiz and Josesito Lopez – and that it might be wise to look at the upcoming fight between Saul Alvarez and Lopez, Sept. 15 in Vegas, in a different light.