Finally, somebody said it. It’s out there now. For those of you who haven’t seen it, Angel Garcia, father of undefeated welterweight Danny Garcia, expressed his confusion to fighthype.com over just why in the hell Shawn Porter and Keith Thurman, two young, talented welterweights, would want to fight each other. FOR GOD’S SAKE, ONE OF THEM COULD LOSE.
Garcia is correct, one of them would likely walk out of the ring with a loss on the old record. This is how boxing works now. If a fighter loses, the fame, fortune, and women all vanish into the ether like they were never there. Why take that kind of risk when you don’t have to?
To be fair, this isn’t an indictment of Angel. His son is a fighter. If one of my sons were fighting, I’d certainly feel better if he got paid well to fight guys who didn’t pose a serious risk to his health. That’s just nature. But Angel wasn’t talking about his son. He was talking about two other guys. Why fight each other “when they could fight a Salka?” He was of course referencing the guy Danny bludgeoned in 2014, Rod Salka, who at the time was ranked just above Rod Stewart at junior welterweight. It was a pathetic, disgusting mismatch on paper. It was worse in the ring. If a boxer can make a million or so fighting a no-hoper, why the hell would he fight a top dog?
This is The Haymon Effect — low risk, high reward, everybody goes home happy. Except the fans. Sadly, it isn’t confined to powerhouse advisor Al Haymon’s stable, but he is the archetype.
Garcia, who fights Robert Guerrero as part of Haymon’s “Premier Boxing Champions” network on Fox Saturday night, has got the full treatment. He sparked Amir Khan before defeating the murderous-punching Lucas Matthysse in 2013. He was the king at 140 lbs.
Since then, he’s become one of the most despised fighters in the sport. He was gifted a decision against Mauricio Herrera. Then he ruined Salka, a lightweight he had no business fighting. Next was another questionable decision victory over Lamont Peterson, followed by another easy victory over the completely shot Paulie Malignaggi. Not exactly a murderer’s row. Not exactly a career-building resume. But it wasn’t just him.
Peter Quillin called out Gennady Golovkin and fought Michael Zerafa before he was humiliated in one round by Daniel Jacobs. Floyd Mayweather’s swan song came against Andre Berto, a guy who hasn’t been relevant in years. Manny Pacquiao opted to fight Tim Bradley for a ridiculous third time — after arguably winning 20 out of the 24 rounds they’ve fought — instead of the dangerous Terence Crawford. The point is, this is happening all over, and it will continue because nothing will be done about it. Oscar De La Hoya can tell us until he’s blue in the face that his star, Canelo Alvarez, wants to fight Golovkin. But he will make a ton of money regardless of who he fights. Will he really risk his title (and his long-term health) fighting that beast?
The UFC isn’t perfect. But there’s one guy there who calls the shots. The champion faces the top contenders or he’s no longer the champion. It just doesn’t work that way in boxing. There are too many cooks in the kitchen. Frankly, there are too many kitchens. WBC, WBA, IBF, IBO, etc. Each weight class has about 14 champions, interim champions, champs in recess, silver champs, diamond champs, super-extra-awesome champs, and plain, boring regular champs.
Real, lineal world champions are either barely recognized by networks or completely ignored. The fighters who are skilled enough to reach the highest levels of the sport simply don’t have to fight to stay there. There are plenty of lower-tier contenders who would kill to get a shot at one of them, even if it likely ends in a beating.
Outside of being on the receiving end of some hellish twitter-wrath, there just isn’t much incentive for fighters to take major risks. But what many of them don’t understand is that a guy like Canelo could lose to Golovkin and the world wouldn’t implode. Nothing would change for him, like it didn’t change when Mayweather schooled him. He’d be lauded for taking the shot.
Garcia could do the same. Would it be risky to fight a guy like Terence Crawford? Absolutely. But a loss wouldn’t signal the end for him, just like it wasn’t the end for guys like Mosley, De La Hoya, Pacquiao and Froch.
A precious handful of fighters leave this sport with an unscathed record. Here’s a surprise — nobody gives a shit. Fight the best. Take the risk. Reap the rewards, win or lose. Guys like Garcia will earn a lot of money either way. But one way earns scorn, while the other earns respect. Sometimes, respect gets you farther. Because when you lose, and odds-on you will, isn’t it better for it to be at the hands of a fighter considered your equal, rather than “a Salka?”
Some Random Notes From This Weekend:
Showtime is back, baby!!! And what a show to make their triumphant return. We had Paulie Malignaggi stumbling all over every sentence, Jimmy Lennon introducing a fight for the nonexistent “IBAF” belt, Mike Tyson making up new words and a guy shredding his ACL. And that was just the first half hour.
How many freak injuries have to occur before somebody does something about the advertisements plastered all over ring canvases? Now, Vyacheslav Glazkov was probably on his way to a loss anyway, and the injury probably spared us from a God awful fight, but that was just a horrible break for the guy. A Corona slogan ended not only his night, but most likely his entire 2016 campaign. That is an awful, senseless, completely avoidable way to go out.
We weren’t real sure what to make of southpaw heavyweight Charles Martin before his bout with Glazkov. Unfortunately, not a damn thing has changed.
Deontay Wilder didn’t exactly wow the crowd during his fight with Artur Szpilka, but good lord did he end the festivities properly. He landed a short but monstrous right hand directly on Szpilka’s jaw in the 9th round, rendering him instantly unconscious. He remained on the mat for a scary amount of time, and of course Showtime made sure to catch Szpilka’s horrified wife sobbing at the sight of him. One thing is clear — Wilder has good hand speed and the power to wipe anybody out with a single shot.
Wilder’s post-fight interviews are always entertaining, but there’s nothing more entertaining than when a 6’9” drunk gypsy who happens to be the real heavyweight champion of the world stumbles into the ring and makes Jim Gray soil himself. Fury did all of us a favor by ripping the microphone away from him. If he’d bopped him on the head with it like whack-a-mole, he’d have been my hero.
The sight of those two giants smack talking each other from mere inches away gave me hope for the heavyweight division. Finally, I think this thing has a pulse. Now all they have to do is fight each other. Should be simple, right?