Stardom in boxing is a fickle thing. It can’t be forced or manufactured. It happens organically or not at all and remains one of the last things in this sport that can’t be bought.
Some fighters attain stardom because of their talent, others in spite of it. Some guys lack the connections while others rely solely on theirs. Sublime skill, exciting fights, and an engaging personality will only get you so far. The rest is up to the fans. Be yourself, do your job and cross your fingers the cosmos repays your efforts. It will find you if and when it wants to.
In the case of Danny Garcia however, who knows what the fuck is going on.
For all Premier Boxing Champion’s promotional efforts, Garcia (35-2, 21 KO) has simply failed to endear himself to boxing’s consumers in a way commensurate to his star potential.
Maybe it’s the masks. Maybe it’s his dad. Maybe it’s the disputed decision win over Mauricio Herrera (24-8, 7 KO) back in 2014 that created his image as a protected house fighter and he never recovered from it. Maybe it’s the countless blue ribbons he’s won in Jason Biggs lookalike contests or the copyright infringement on Winky Wright’s hairline. For whatever reason, Garcia exists in sort of a no man’s land of boxing’s class structure.
If Danny Garcia were a band he’d be The Offspring. Relatively popular, at least in relation to his peers, but by no means anybody’s favorite. He’s ubiquitous in the landscape but exists more like wallpaper than artwork. That’s not to say he’s without his fans. Civic pride will always force the Philadelphia and Puerto Rican contingents into the seats of his fights, but the connection to Garcia himself seems muted at best.
None of this is particularly Danny Garcia’s fault. He can only control so much. But there’s only so many times you can knock on the door to stardom and get no answer before you maybe just have to accept that it’s pretending not to be home. And you know what? That’s fine. There’s only room for so many celebrity boxers and at this point, you just have to ride it out and see where it takes you.
Where it took him on this night was to the not-exactly-full Dignity Health Sports Park in Carson, California to take on hard luck Adrian Granados (20-7-2, 14 KO) on Fox while the majority of eyes in the boxing world were tuned to a certain competing pay per view card on ESPN. A headliner relegated to opening band status. The Offspring would be proud.
For any shortcomings in his star-making ability, Garcia has shown very few inside the ring. He’s an exceptionally skilled fighter with tons of experience. He has heavy hands, trusts his power and knows when to use it. He’s a puncher through and through.
Granados, well, he’s, uh, he’s tough. He’s been on the wrong end of some close decisions and probably deserves a better record than the one he has. He’s not going to be mistaken for Willie Pep anytime soon but he fights his ass off and can take a shot.
Make no mistake, this was a killing time fight for Danny Garcia; a stay busy affair to stave off ring rust while the other big names at welterweight clear up their schedules. But there was relatively little to be gained by him taking this fight and a whole hell of a lot to lose. A loss or a boring decision win would prove devastating. Garcia needed a knockout against a guy who’d never been on the receiving end of one. No easy task. Like the drug test I passed last week though, there’s a first time for everything.
Garcia throws bombs and Granados can eat them. Buckle up.
Garcia came out cautiously in the first minute before opening up and testing Granados’ vaunted chin. He would have no trouble finding it, as Granados apparently forgot or simply wasn’t told he was allowed to use his hands to protect it.
As the bell rang for the second round Garcia showed that he had no intention of coasting to a decision win. He dropped Granados with a monster left hook halfway through the round and again with an overhand right moments later. Granados’ chin was as advertised. The problem for him was that so was Garcia’s power.
Granados survived the onslaughts of rounds three and four with his corner keeping a close watch and urging him to show them something. That something turned out to be another knockdown from a Danny Garcia short right hand. The ending seemed a formality and Garcia made it official midway through the seventh round with a flurry along the ropes. Referee Thomas Taylor stepped in with a perfectly timed stoppage to save Adrian Granados from his own stubborn resolve.
In the end, Garcia out-landed Granados 179 to 59 over six and change rounds according to Compubox and put on the type of performance needed at this stage of his career.
After the fight, Garcia called out the other big names at 147 pounds, specifically Manny Pacquiao. It remains to be seen if a big name like Pacquiao’s on his resume is what’s been lacking from Operation: Make Danny Garcia a Star or if Pacquiao even has a baton left to pass to assist in the effort.
Wherever Danny Garcia goes, the empty threat of stardom will always loom. It just may never come for him and maybe that’s not fair. But boxing doesn’t give a fuck about fair.
He can’t be flashy like Floyd. He can’t be gutsy like Gatti. He’ll never be goofy like Golovkin. But he can be Danny Garcia.
And after performances like last night, that’s a pretty damn good place to be.