By: Rahat Haque
All eyes will be turned towards Khan vs. Crawford this Saturday night at Madison Square Garden. Several articles have been written on that fight in this very site, including one by the author of this article. However, there is another fight that will take place on the same night on the other coast, in Dignity Health Sports Park, Carson, California. Danny Garcia vs Adrian Granados. While the Fox card will carry much lesser intrigue than its ESPN counterpart, it is still a match worth watching.
Danny Garcia is the bigger name, and will be drawing most of the audience for the fight. Here is a man who has worked very hard to climb up the ranks and make himself a name in the sport of boxing. But whatever Danny does, he is always seen as the underdog against legitimate opposition. His fans will remind you of that no doubt, but it is a valid criticism from the neutrals. There is something in Danny’s game that is not convincing enough to make you think he will cruise past his opponents. He was the underdog vs Khan and Matthysse. He did win both fights, but most claim the victory versus Khan to be a work of Khan’s own undoing. Similarly, most claim the victory over Matthysse as a result of the cut on Lucas’s right eye, which bothered the Argentinian slugger for most of the fight. Fans also frown upon the fact that he took too many low blows from Danny in that encounter.
Regarding Danny’s demolition jobs against Rod Salka and Paulie Malignaggi, he is again discredited as having cherry picked his opponents. The Rod Salka matchmaking was a shocker, and Malignaggi was already over the hill. Most fans looked at the latter as setting up an old man up for a devastating left hook, which is of course how things turned out. Then there were also the controversial decisions where people felt Danny got the nod. The Lamont Peterson fight was extremely close, I attended that fight live at Barclays Center as a matter of fact. I did score it for Danny, but by only one round. The Herrera fight in Puerto Rico was the much bigger controversy. The majority of the boxing world agreed that Danny was beneficiary of some home cooking.
So as Danny Garcia raked up the wins prior to his first defeat versus Thurman, it was not at all a stellar critique free resume from his end. He won all right, but fans were hesitant in giving him credit because either they disagreed with the scorecards, or they thought the opposition was too weak, or they believed he got lucky. The bubble was supposed to burst against Keith Thurman for the Philadelphia pugilist. It did. That was no surprise again to most observers. Thurman was one of the big stars at 147. But could Danny bounce back and beat Shawn Porter with his boxing skills and power? It would be an easier task than the Thurman fight, and if Danny was as good as his loyalists said he was, he should have had no problems negating the athleticism and work rate of Shawn Porter with his mix of skills and power. But he could not overcome Porter and ended up with another loss. That was the low point of Danny Garcia’s career, his boxing nadir.
Come this Saturday night, it is his chance to get back to winning ways against Adrián Granados. Even though a bigger name opposition would be preferable, at least he did not reach down to the level of boxer-cum-trainers like Rod Salka. No disrespect intended for Lightning Rod, he is very knowledgeable about the game, but he himself would tell you that he is a journeyman and was on no one’s radar when the fight between him and Danny first got announced. That is not the case with Granados. Here is a man who has quietly build himself a reputation ever since surprising Amir Imam with a TKO. Imam was considered a rising prospect until then. But does Adrián have the firepower to trouble Danny? It is unlikely. Danny has demonstrated he has a great chin versus Peterson and Rios. Some heavy punches were landed throughout the course of those fights, but none which rocked Garcia too badly. Also, if this fight should at any point turn into a shootout, Granados would not be wise to trade hooks with Garcia. Granados has guts definitely, it shows in the way he fights, and his tempo can take fighters by surprise. But what Danny has is experience and calculated power, which he can unleash when in range. If Adrián come rushing in, he is setting himself up. That will be playing into former welterweight champion’s style, where he favors being the non-aggressor. However, if Adrián chooses his moments when to be on the front foot, but also mix it up by urging Danny to come forward, à la Mauricio Herrera, it should make for an interesting fight.
The most likely outcome is an easy decision win for Garcia, where Granados gets debilitated throughout the course of the fight by Danny’s punches, but continues his charge as an aggressor, albeit with less fervor. This will be the dream sequence for Danny, where he can connect cleanly every time as a weakened Granados comes charging forward. But at the same light, it is also a banana peel for Danny. He is not one of the biggest names in the division anymore after the back-to-back defeats, but because he has crossed that fame threshold, any losses against upstarts like Granados will not look good at all! So while we hold our breaths for the Khan Crawford fight, we might as well pay attention to the fight taking place on the west coast. The more polished Danny is the overwhelming favorite, but Granados is a live underdog.