Report & photos by John DiSanto – PhillyBoxingHistory.com
Junior welterweight champion Danny Garcia, 26-0, 16 KOs, has been on quite a roll over the past two years. He’s captured world titles, won fights big fights, and watched his per fight price go up with each start. He’s accomplished a lot in a short time, but for some reason, has yet to breakthrough to the upper echelon of the boxing world. Garcia had a stellar amateur career, engages in exciting high-profile punch outs, and is running out of room to drape championship belts on his body. But still he struggles for respect.
On Saturday night at the MGM in Las Vegas, Garcia will face off with tough Lucas Matthysse, 34-2, 30 KOs, in a 12-round mega-fight on the Floyd Mayweather vs. Canelo Alvarez mega-mega -fight on Showtime Pay-Per-View. It is the biggest bout of his career thus far.
Unlike Garcia, Lucas Matthysse has not struggled for attention from the fans and media. The Argentine has won his share of TV fights and has looked good doing it, but his status has grown to almost mythic proportions over the past year. His face graces the cover of the current issue of The Ring, and he is generally considered the fighter of the moment. He has been installed as the favorite to take Garcia’s gaggle of title belts as well as the Philadelphian’s position as the champion of the 140-pound world.
The word on the street is that Garcia is in for the fight of his life against Matthysse.
However, for Team Garcia this attitude is par for the course, and one of the things that drives the Philly native to keep winning. One thing is certain, Danny knows that adding Matthysse to his win column would mean an awful lot.
“I feel like after this fight, I could potentially be one of the best 140-pounders that ever put on a pair of gloves,” Garcia said from his brand new DSG Boxing Gym. “That’s how I feel. I’m definitely going to be a bigger name in boxing. I’ll become one of those guys they always mention.”
However, Garcia’s outspoken father and trainer, Angel Garcia, isn’t so sure that the respect due his son will come, even after a victory over Matthysse.
“Listen, they are going to say the same thing they been saying for the last 10 fights – he got lucky,” Angel Garcia said. “They won’t give him respect. I still think nobody’s going to give us credit. They’re going to say that he (Matthysse) already had two losses. Zab beat him and Alexander beat him. Ain’t nothing going to change.”
But how could it not if Garcia beats the respected Matthysse? Danny Garcia is the current boss of the junior welterweight division and Matthysse is his very top contender. A win for Garcia (or Matthysse) makes him the undisputed king of the well-cleaned division.
“He’s a good fighter. You can’t take that away from him,” Danny said. “You don’t become a top contender overnight and have no skills. I don’t consider him one of the best because he never won a world title, and when he had a shot, he lost.”
Matthysse did win the interim WBC junior lightweight title, but that crown was created (or split from Garcia’s full version) for apparent marketing reasons. Few consider it a real championship.
“I respect him for putting gloves on, but that’s about it,” Angel said. “They’ve got him as a killer. I don’t know why, he never won nothing. I’m just disappointed. Danny is champ of the world, and they’re still looking at him like he’s the opponent. Like a nobody.”
The anger over the situation spills out of Angel Garcia’s mouth every time the fight comes up. He wants his son to win for all the usual reasons, but you can tell that seeing Danny prove everyone wrong is a big part of the picture too.
“They really think he’s going to win,” Angel said. “So they’re hyping him up like he’s a killer. I want him to think like that because I want him to open up with Danny. If he thinks he’s going to come in and beat the champion and call it a day, he’s in for a long night.”
While his father seethes, Danny stays calm and focuses his attention on the matchup.
“Anything he can do, I can do better,” Garcia said. “He’s got power, but I got power too. I fought a lot of people with power. It takes more than power to win a fight. I know how he’s going to come at me. What happens when I back him up? I can fight backing up. Can he fight backing up?”
With two such strong punchers in the ring, most believe that the fight will come to a clear-cut resolution. It’s one of the things that makes the fight so intriguing. There really could be, and should be, real fireworks.
“If he comes right out and opens up, the fight’s not going to last long,” Garcia said. “I’m going to fight my fight, but if he makes a mistake, I’m going to capitalize.”
Fans would like nothing more than a head-on collision between the two, but the key to Garcia’s success probably lies in a very different strategy.
“You gotta be smart,” Garcia said. “You got to be smart. Take his power away. Make him miss. I’m going to give him some looks, but I’m going to be myself. I’m not going to change my whole game plan and run around like a chicken without a head. I don’t run. But I’m going to be smart. I’m not going to give him anything easy. He’ll have to earn it.”
Angel Garcia believes his son will back up his words.
“We’re going to be ready on September 14th – mentally, spiritually and physically,” Angel said. “On September 14th, Danny will go in the ring and will come out still undefeated champion.”
“I’m going to make adjustments,” Danny said. “I know what he wants to do. He wants to win in big fashion. I’m just going to be smart, and be ready to go 12 rounds.”
“We can go the distance and still show the world,” Angel said. “Outclass him. Show the world that he’s outclassed. I hope Danny outclasses him and makes him look like a nobody. But if he gets fresh and he opens up and gets clipped, the question is will he be able to handle it? We know Danny has one,” Angel said, pointing to his heart. “Does he (Matthysse) have one? He hasn’t been tested yet. We’re ready to brawl, box, all that. Whatever he brings to the plate, we got some answers for it. Matthysse beat people that he was supposed to beat. That is true. Danny beat people he was supposed to lose to. That’s the difference between a champion and an opponent.”
“I was born for this,” Danny said. “I was born to perform on a high level. It’s nothing to me.”
That better be the case, because this fight will be on the biggest stage possible – the Mayweather-Alvarez fight.
“Pressure? No, no, no,” Angel said. “Floyd and Canelo is the main event. We’re just the undercard. For us, it’s a main event, but to everyone else, it’s just the undercard.”
Hardly. If styles make fights, then Garcia vs. Matthysse will be much more than an undercard bout. My money says the fight will steal the show. And if Garcia can get the win, the respect that has eluded him will finally be his.
“Whether it does or not, I’m going to be happy, and that’s all that matters,” Garcia said.
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