By: Sean Crose
“At the end of the day, I don’t pick my opponents,” Danny Garcia said in the summer of 2014. “My manager, Al Haymon does, and I never go against him.” This was not the sort of thing fans wanted to hear from the Philadelphia fighter at the time. For the undefeated Garcia, then one of the biggest names in boxing, was set to face a virtual unknown named Rod Salka in a match that on paper clearly seemed to border on criminally abusive. Even the WBC and WBA, whose junior welterweight titles Garcia possessed, refused to sanction the bout – and with good reason.
As I wrote after the mismatch: “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.” This was not, to be sure, one of Garcia’s – or boxing’s – greater moments. As I bitterly wrote in the same piece, Salka had been “an unknown who operated at a full weight division below him (Garcia). An unknown who Garcia was now making fight at a higher weight than even he himself normally fought at.”
It was an ugly moment, to be sure – but there’s ultimately more to people than their darkest moments, and it would be unfair if Garcia were to someday be remembered just for that one terrible night. Fortunately, Garcia will most likely be remembered for a lot more. For the now 34 year old former world titlist has built up a very impressive 36-3 record over a nearly fifteen year career – much of it against some of the most dangerous and challenging names in the business. Amir Khan, Shawn Porter, Paulie Malignaggi, Keith Thurman, Brandon Rios, Errol Spence, Jr…Garcia deserves our respect because, frankly, he’s earned it facing some very high end competition.
Garcia is also, frankly, a pretty nice and giving guy, which makes it easier to wish him the best as he returns to the ring after an absence of over a year and a half to face Jose Benevidez Jr in a Showtime main event this coming Saturday. Although Benevidez Jr is not Jermell Charlo, he’s no certainly no joke. When one considers the fact that Garcia is moving up to junior middleweight this time and that he’s facing legitimate competition, it’s hard to say his return match this weekend is going to be a walk in the figurative park. In other words, the future of the fighter known as “Swift” is uncertain at the moment – and that’s a good thing. Those who step into the unknown deserve some respect.
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