On Saturday, Danny Garcia (35-2, 21 KO) has two opponents in mind. Neither of which will be in the ring with him. Cast out from boxing’s pound-for-pound ranks, Garcia hopes to turn a dominant showing over Ivan Redkach (23-4-1, 18 KO) into a megafight with either Errol Spence of Manny Pacquiao.
Aiming for competitive fights has never exactly been Garcia’s M.O. lest there is something lucrative in it for him which would seem to be just what Spence and Pacquiao offer. Three years ago, Garcia was (even if begrudgingly so) a fixture among the sport’s elite. But having since been relieved of that lofty position following losses to Keith Thurman and Shawn Porter, years of living off a couple good wins in 2013 seems like ages ago. His recent 2-2 mark dates back to 2017. And too bad considering his talent—combining stellar power and impeccable balance—the whole is less than the sum of its parts when it comes to Garcia.
That 14-month stretch that saw Garcia blast Amir Khan and bang around Lucas Matthysse was something to behold. It also made his fall from grace that much more epic. Biblical even. Because Lucifer might be a good parallel for the hatred Garcia and his camp (namely his father) have been met with from the boxing community. Tagged with the “cherry picker” label for doing Al Haymon’s bidding and constantly jawing throughout that will-they-won’t-they saga leading up to his fight with Thurman. Angel Garcia swore his son was God’s gift to boxing. And fight fans were quick to point out the contradiction of such a claim with what was going down in the ring. For starters, that robbery at the expense of Mauricio Herrera.
It was Garcia’s first action since defeating Matthysse. Herrera was not yet known as the divisional spoiler but instead an unheralded journeyman who fought on even terms with middling men on ESPN. But there was no tuneup to be had for Garcia. Herrera’s awkward attack befuddled the superstar all the way to a lucky decision verdict that still haunts Garcia’s legacy. Still hanging on to his belts, Garcia didn’t get the chance to defend them when he next signed up to fight Rod Salka, a considerably smaller boxer, in a matchup so poor the WBC and WBA refused to sanction it.
By this point, the junior welterweight division was still hot. So Garcia couldn’t avoid the big names forever. To open 2015, he took on Lamont Peterson, a respectable champion. The contest was fair enough but Peterson finished the stronger go the two and that painted a terrible scene when Garcia eked out a majority decision. But the real story was that for no reason at all Garcia demanded a catchweight. That meant no belts on the line, no unification. Meaningless as they often are, those shiny belts mean a lot to the mainline fanbase, who consider them the entire goal of the sport: win the title and be the best. Garcia’s betrayal was yet another grave sin.
The belts clearly didn’t mean anything to Garcia because up he moved to welterweight-proper (147 pounds). In the sport’s most glamorized division pressure for high-level action only increased, especially against Thurman. But Garcia only offered up a bout with Paul Malignaggi and, worse, Robert Guerrero, who Thurman had beat the year before. Garcia’s time between fights became longer, waiting a whole 10 months before finally punching in a TKO over PBC grunt Samuel Vargas.
Not until the spring of 2017 did fans get Garcia-Thurman. But frankly no matter the outcome, no matter how close Garcia would run things with Thurman, it was never going to be enough. His reputation was soiled. Any type of loss was all his detractors needed. He had been exposed, as they like to say. Not just because Thurman was a terrific fighter but because it proved boxing intelligentsia correct all along—every soft touch, all the close fights, they weren’t isolated events but terrific pattern recognition from the hive mind on social media.
Three years on, Garcia has competed just three more times. Losing twice, falling short to the only notable names he’s faced since turning away Matthysse. His last fight was a stoppage over Adrian Granados, a banger cut from the same cloth as Redkach: the plodding type of opponent tailor-made for Garcia. The formula worked before, why not again?
Last June, Redkach, 33, was facing down the barrel of the same gun. Devon Alexander was an established contender on the hunt for a limited banger to gather momentum against. Redkach was his man but a pair of left hands flipped script in Redkach’s favor, winning by sixth-round knockout. Not bad for his welterweight debut.
Turning pro at lightweight with some considerable hype, Redkach was a decent hitter. But cracking a sturdy technician like Alexander was more than even his biggest fans could’ve hoped for. He’s strung together three straight wins. But mining another upset out of Redkach won’t be easy for his trainer Shane Mosley. Pushing those mid-30s there isn’t much left for a fighter beside their power. That might just be to Redkach’s delight.
Hurd looks to bounce back after losing titles
As interesting as a matchup can be between two men coming of a loss, Jarrett Hurd (23-1, 16 KO) squares off with Francisco Santana (25-7-1, 12 KO) in a 10-round junior middleweight contest.
Hurd, 29, was the 154-pound king just last summer before the Maryland bruiser was decisioned by an inspired Julian Williams. Hurd had previously forced his will onto every one of this opponents. A three-fight crusade in 2017 and 2018 had particularly make the world take note: bashing Tony Harrison and Austin Trout before grueling out a decision over Erislandy Lara. All three were beltholders, past or present. So a early knockout over British ruffian Jason Welborn was just desserts.
Despite the hype surrounding Williams before he was felled by Jermall Charlo, Hurd was supposed to run over him. But Williams boxed his ears off. Fortunately for Hurd, Williams surprisingly lost immediately afterwards, and he isn’t that far away from another crack at a title as he is currently the top-rated contender to the WBA’s bevy of champions (three in all!).
Santana, 33, knows Williams firsthand too. They met ages ago in 2011, holding Williams to a draw. It was the first blemish on the future champ’s record. Santana’s true level was clear in his very next fight, outpointed by Jermall Charlo.
As such, the next half-decade was part and parcel for a second-tier brawler. Wrecking regional talent here, fed to shiny prospects there. So in 2018 he was an afterthought when he was entered the short-lived welterweight tournament put on by the WBC. In the top seed was Felix Diaz but Santana paid that no mind, outworking the former gold medalist to a points win. There are no nights off for Santana. He may have been outdone by a fresher, streaking Abel Ramos, in his last fight. but he still floored the younger man, accumulating 800 total punches. That’s who Santana is, consistent—limited that he may be.