By Sean Crose
Does Rod Salka have any chance of beating Danny Garcia on Saturday? The answer to that question is simple – probably not. Still, people said the same thing about James Douglas when he stepped into the ring with Mike Tyson, so let’s keep in mind this is boxing we’re talking about here – a sport where anything can honestly happen.
Photo: Rich Kane – Hoganphotos/Golden Boy Promotions.
For starters Salka is a decent defensive fighter. Not great by any means, but decent. In fact, he almost engages an opponent like a far smaller, far less powerful Gene Tunney. Salka’s goal at all times seems to be to keep the man before him from launching a decent offensive attack. As far as this author can tell, that’s it. That’s the man’s game plan.
Yet it’s a game plan that’s worked for everyone from the aforementioned Tunney down to current pound for pound king Floyd Mayweather. In other words, Salka employs a tried and true strategy, one that’s been proven to frustrate and vanquish opponents for decades.
Garcia is no ordinary foe, however. He’s the top junior welterweight in the world, a man who can box as well as punch. He’s also popular with the right people, which means that even if you give Garcia a run the way Mauricio Herrera did last winter, the odds may still be against you ending up on top.
Besides, Garcia is faster, hits a whole lot harder, has more experience and is naturally just a whole lot bigger than Salka. In other words, Saturday night may be great for Salka as far as money and attention are concerned, but the evening looks to prove to be disastrous for the man in every other conceivable way.
Again, however, this is boxing we’re talking about here. It’s also good to keep in mind that 2014 is a year where a lot of proverbial apple carts are getting upset. How, though, can Salka possibly win this weekend at the Barclay’s Center?
The first thing he will have to do if he hopes to prevail is stay busier than Garcia. Far busier. Garcia by his own admission often starts off at a leisurely pace, so Salka can feasibly hope to steal a few rounds from the man right off the bat.
It’s good to keep in mind that one of the reasons Salka may have been chosen for Garcia is because he has no discernible punching power. That means team Garcia may assume Salka won’t be able to stop Garcia once Garcia gets into gear after a few rounds.
Salka’s job, then, will be to never let Garcia get into a groove after the first few chapters of Saturday night’s book. By never letting Garcia settle in, Salka could conceivably win enough rounds to make the fight more competitive than anyone thought it could be.
Perhaps most importantly, though, Salka must avoid Garcia’s considerable punching power. Amir Khan, who’s a lot more slick than Salka could probably ever hope to be, got taken out by a Garcia punch in less than a second. It is simply imperative, then, that Salka keep – and stay – out of the danger zone as much as possible.
If Salka can pull off all of those things, he has a good chance of winning. Can he pull all those things off, though? The odds aren’t good. Garcia is starting to seem more and more like a quintessential Al Haymon fighter, one who exists in a world of the easiest paycheck possible. It’s hard to imagine Garcia’s people (including Haymon) specifically choosing Salka without being almost certain that Garcia would win.
One last thing – Saturday’s bout is not a Rocky story. Rocky got a second chance after losing a close fight with Apollo Creed. It’s doubtful Salka will ever get a second shot if Garcia wins on Saturday, no matter how close, or even controversial, the bout may end up being.