By Sean Crose
For a guy from Philly, Danny Garcia certainly got the hometown treatment from the crowd in Bayamon, Puerto Rico on Saturday night. Garcia, whose father and trainer, Angel, hails from the island, had made it a point to represent both Philadelphia and Puerto Rico in the lead up to his light welterweight title fight.
It was a strategy the folks at Showtime had hoped would pay off. Philadelphia is a famous fight town, after all. And the Puerto Rican market is a gold mine for any fighter who can endear himself to Puerto Rican boxing fans.
Garcia’s opponent, the veteran Mauricio Herrera, was almost an afterthought before the opening bell rang on Saturday. Thing was, however, Herrera had come to fight. He was fast, he was frustrating, he jabbed well to Garcia’s midsection, and he wasn’t afraid to clinch. By the end of the third, it was clear the Riverside, California native wasn’t going to be anyone’s tune up bout.
Give Garcia this – he didn’t pick an easy target to face in Bayamon. Herrera may not have been the big story leading up to the fight, but he had always been a talented, largely successful fighter. By the halfway point of the bout, the crowd was starting to boo. Why? Because Herrera was winning. He wasn’t winning by much, really – but he was winning nonetheless.
Angel Garcia was well aware of this in Danny’s corner. For he let his son have it in between rounds. And it was hard to blame him. The fight, it seemed, might be in danger of slipping away. Even Showtime’s Paul Malignaggi started wondering aloud how the judging would turn out in Garcia-friendly Puerto Rico.
Make no mistake about it – Garcia didn’t look bad. He had some strong counterpunches and even took a few rounds. By the last quarter of the bout, however, Garcia’s face got busted up. Being a true product of Philly, he reacted savagely. Still, Herrera remained unhurt and unfazed.
When Showtime’s Al Bernstein announced the judges’ cards in round ten, however, he indicated that Garcia was in the lead. Anyone who knew anything about boxing knew what that meant. Garcia, the adopted son of his father’s homeland, was getting the hometown treatment.
As for Herrera, he didn’t help himself by giving up the eleventh to the fan favorite. It didn’t matter. For he came back and took the twelfth. By the time the final bell rang, it was clear that Garcia had been bested. It was a close fight. It was a good fight. But Herrera had won it.
If only the judges had seen it that way. If only anyone were surprised by the majority decision. Garcia was happy with it. The fans were happy with it. Al Haymon and Showtime were undoubtedly happy with it. And that, sadly, is all that matters. If history is any indicator, Garcia will gone on to fame and fortune while Herrera will slip into oblivion.
Even though he beat the hometown guy.
One has to ask, though, how Garcia will hold up in the future. What will happen if he moves up and Keith Thurman hits him as clean as Herrera did? Will future judges decide to not count knockdowns?
116-112. Those were the cards of two of the judges. 116-112. In favor of Garcia. The numbers were right. The judges just got the winner of the fight wrong. Yet boxing is a sport where poor judging is simply viewed as par for the course.
Danny Garcia has a lot to be happy about after this weekend’s adventure. He should keep in mind, however, that outrageous judging may someday put a check in his own loss column.