Danny “Swift” Garcia: A Latin Identity Crisis
By: Sergio L. Martinez
On Thursday, during the final press conference held at the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino for the Amir Khan vs Danny Garcia fight, things heated between both camps as Danny Garcia and his trainer/father Angel Garcia voiced plenty of bravado regarding Danny’s pending clash with Amir Khan. The fight is scheduled to take place this Saturday and will be televised on HBO. At stake are two titles: the WBC and WBA light welterweight championships.
Photo: Gene Blevins/ Hogan Photos
At the press conference, Angel Garcia was quoted as saying, “This fight is going to show the world who is the boss. Danny is the boss. Khan has never faced a Latino like Danny.”
Although Danny Garcia is of Latino bloodlines as both his parents are of Puerto Rican descent, few domestic Latino fight fans, outside of his birth state of Pennsylvania, recognize him as a one of their representatives in the sport. Garcia, who is born and reared in Philadelphia, is recognized more as an American fighter. Unlike Brandon Rios, Victor Ortiz, and Robert Guerrero, who are also American-born fighters of Latin descent, Garcia is rarely, if ever, mentioned among today’s hot Latino-American fighters; he is just not one that the Latin-American fight community at large relates to, as he is seen as someone who lacks passion during his fights.
Throughout his young career, there has been an on-going determination to promote Garcia to the Latin-American community in an effort to garner support, but his lack of connectivity to the core of this fan base is evident as he is still seen as an outsider. Although undefeated in 23 professional fights, Garcia has failed to capture the imagination of the Latin community as he has looked mediocre on several occasions and his resume leaves a lot to be desired.
Garcia’s signature win coming into the Khan fight is a unanimous decision victory in his last contest over badly faded Mexican legend Erik “Terrible” Morales. Morales was a mere shell of himself at the time that he faced Garcia, but the old, battered warrior was still able to be competitive early in the fight. As the contest wore on, Morales wore out and youth was able to prevail.
It was a win on the books for Garcia but, in the end, this fight did nothing for his popularity in Latin boxing circles. Add in a life and death struggle which ended in a highly controversial win in 2010 over club fighter Ashley Theophane and a split-decision victor against the inconsistent and faded former champion Kendall Holt in 2011; it is easy to understand why most approach Garcia with great skepticism as one who can complete and represent Latin boxing. He just does not seem like a fighter that will be competitive against top tier fighters for years, to come nor one that will ever be able to legitimize a championship.
In all fairness to Garcia, he is not without credentials. The young Philadelphia fighter was a U.S. amateur star who won a National Amateur Title in 2006 and captured many tournament titles during his career. As a professional, he has shown some flashes of potential but, overall, he has failed to excite.
This Saturday, Garcia will get a chance at earning a career win for his resume and becoming better known, should he beat Khan. Khan, who is a former Olympic star for England, has great pedigree and decent professional credentials. A victory over him automatically elevates one’s career. Still, it is not only winning that Garcia has to contend with in this scenario: it is also how he does it, should he pull off the victory.
Khan, for all of his natural skills, tends to stand-in and trade leather during his fights. He is a television-friendly fighter. The British pug, although not a knockout artist by any means, possesses some good pop in both fists. This fighting approach will give Garcia a great opportunity to be exciting against the best fighter he has faced thus far in his career. It will be interesting to see what Garcia’s reaction will be when he is faced with a prime, 140 pound fighter that is firing some heavy artillery rapidly, as Khan also has solid hand speed.
Should Garcia exchange blows with Khan and show true passion in the ring, this may help him greatly in his quest of becoming a legitimate draw with the Latin-American contingent. Ortiz’s passionate performance against Berto did wonders for Victor’s career, despite the fact that up to that point, Ortiz was best remembered for quitting against Maidana. Fight fans felt that Ortiz lacked passion, which hurt his popularity at the time. There is no reason not to believe that a passionate performance against Khan, win or lose, will also do wonders for Garcia’s career in terms of popularity with the Latin-American community.
In the end, will pulling off a win, passion notwithstanding, be enough to carry Danny Garcia with Latin-American fans? Or does Garcia need to take this opportunity and fight with his heart at the risk of going out on his shield and losing his perfect record? Although everyone wants to remain undefeated, lack of perfection is often forgiven for the ability to show true passion to one’s cause.
Latin-American fight fans historically relate to and love their boxers that choose attrition over safety and fight through adversities, even if they do not always win in the end. At some point tomorrow night, barring a quick end to the fight, Danny “Swift” Garcia will be faced with this dilemma; his choice will give more clarity as to his true boxing identity.