By Sean Crose
The bout between Danny Garcia and Rod Salka appeared to be such a mismatch that the only reason many probably tuned in to the Showtime broadcast Saturday was because they hoped to see a stunning upset. For Garcia, a true rising star, was up against a complete unknown.
An unknown who operated at a full weight division below him. An unknown who Garcia was now making fight at a higher weight than even he himself normally fought at. Oh, and Garcia was doing it all for $700,000. That’s a lot of dollars for a task most felt would require very little work.
Showtime’s own broadcast observers made it clear they themselves had hoped Garcia would meet with fellow junior welterweight champion Lamont Peterson on Saturday. We’re they trying to do damage control or was it really how they felt? It was hard to tell.
It was also, sadly, completely irrelevant. For Garcia, his adviser Al Haymon and Showtime boxing honcho Stephen Espinoza had made their decision and that was that. The boxing world was getting a Garcia-Salka bout, whether it wanted one or not.
And so, after Showtime regaled its audience with even more footage of Garcia’s “homecoming” to Puerto Rico (a place he reportedly had never before been to) earlier in the year, it was time for events to finally unfold.
Garcia entered the ring wearing a mask straight out of Eyes Wide Shut. His considerable fan base cheered wildly while the Twitterverse expressed confusion. By the time Steve Willis gave both fighters the official instructions, things had nearly entered the realm of the surreal.
The much harder hitting Garcia had his man down in the second. Then Salka went down on one knee later in the round. Then he was put flat on his back by Garcia as the crowd went crazy and Willis stopped the fight. It may not have been an uneventful affair, but it was perfectly predictable.
In fact, one almost felt like yelling at Garcia to pick on someone his own size next time. Truth be told, however, it’s up in the air if the man will actually face a legitimate challenge. After all, as fans were repeatedly told by fighters throughout the night, boxing is a business.
“I came here and did what I was supposed to do,” Garcia told Showtime’s Jim Gray after his destruction of a man who had no business fighting him. “My fans love me…they support whatever I do.”
Indeed they just might. It’s even worth wondering if this is the sort of bout they want to see Garcia fighting in – over and over again. “I’ll leave that up to Al Haymon,” Garcia responded when Grey asked if he was interested in meeting Lamont Peterson.
No doubt he will. It’s a fact that Garcia comes across as someone who has no opinion at all when it comes to who he will face next. He leaves that sort of thing entirely up to Haymon – who he appears to trust explicitly.
“We’ll see how the discussions and the negotiations (between the Garcia and Peterson camps) go,” Brian Kenny told the Showtime audience afterward. At this point it’s worth wondering if there even will be any negotiations or discussions at all. Both Garcia and Peterson seemed so non-committal at the prospect of facing each other on Saturday that their passivity was nearly jarring.
Next week, Showtime will showcase Shawn Porter’s battle with the formidable Brit, Kell Brook. It will be a legitimate pay cable throwdown. One has to legitimately wonder how many more of those Showtime will be willing to broadcast in the future.
No matter what the future holds, however, one can be sure many will be thanking Al Haymon for it.