By: Sean Crose
Showmanship can get a fighter far, particularly in this over the top era. A fighter, however, ultimately has to be more than a showman. A fighter has to fight well if he or she doesn’t wish to simply remain a novelty act. Anyone can talk the talk, and indeed some talk it better than others. Boxing, though, is a sport where one has to walk the walk as well. As the adage goes, don’t let your mouth write checks that your ass can’t cash. Say what one will about Ryan Garcia this past weekend, but he backed up all his bluster and hype with a powerful performance over the skilled Luke Campbell. Winning a fight isn’t the same as getting off the mat to win a fight. And Garcia literally had to get off the mat to win on Saturday.
That sort of thing says something about a person, particularly one who fights on a professional level. It says that the person not only has heart but has the wherewithal to survive the most difficult moments. “A champion,” iconic fighter Jack Dempsey once said, “is someone who gets up when he can’t.” Say what one will about Garcia, but the young man seems to have the same kind of outlook Dempsey had as heavyweight champion a century ago. There’s another quote from Dempsey, though, that’s also germane to the present time. “I was a pretty good fighter,” he once said, “but it was the writers who made me great.”
With all due respect to the memory of Dempsey, the man was full of it. Any YouTube click of the guy in his prime indicates he was great indeed, a combination of offense and defense that very much inspired a prime Tyson in the 80’s. Yet Dempsey here indicates a timeless problem for fighters – media adoration. It can be a wonderful thing, but one had better back it up. A look at Garcia and other fighters who prove they have go as well as show indicates there’s a surefire way for a brash individual to keep from looking foolish in the ring – and that’s taking the fight game seriously.
Garcia, for instance, knew he had to get a trainer of Eddy Reynoso’s caliber in order to keep growing as an athlete. A fighter similar to Garcia might not have such insight due to overconfidence. The best fighters always have their feet grounded, no matter how showy they can be at times. Floyd Mayweather, for instance, may love to flaunt his wealth, but there’s probably more video footage of him working his ass off in the gym than there is of him riding around in custom made motor vehicles. Same for the boisterous Tyson Fury. When he’s not flapping his gums, one can usually find videos of the heavyweight kingpin online training. Sure enough, there was one of Fury running through the freezing pre-dawn cold this past Christmas morning. The man knows there has to be a lot of go to back up all that show.
Garcia may have his detractors, and perhaps that’s understandable. The fight game isn’t easy for him, though. It’s something he has to struggle with in order to master. The same goes for those who have already achieved a degree of greatness.