By Sean Crose
Someone clearly was watching when Teddy Atlas went on a rant during a broadcast of Friday Night Fights several weeks ago. Standing before the ESPN cameras, Atlas told the world exactly what he felt about the upcoming Danny Garcia-Rod Salka bout.
“What’s the point of having ratings if you don’t live up to your own rules?” Atlas asked, referencing the World Boxing Association and the World Boxing Council, who recognize Garcia as the junior welterweight champion.
“He’s not rated,” he added, speaking of Salka. Indeed, Salka is not rated as a top contender. In fact, he isn’t even a junior welterweight. He’s a low ranking lightweight who fights in an entire weight division below the one Garcia holds titles in.
“How can you have credibility,” Atlas asked, “when these fraudulent organizations have rules that you’re supposed to be in the top fifteen and you’re not?” Many fight fans agreed that one can’t, in fact, have credibility when one bends one’s own rules in such a blatant manner. And the WBC and WBA seem to have taken note.
For both organizations have decided not to sanction the Garcia-Salka fight as a title bout. This news undoubtedly comes as a pleasant surprise to many in the boxing community, but perhaps not to Showtime honcho Stephen Espinoza, who’s been taking flack for agreeing to air the fight to begin with. Indeed, it could be argued that Showtime has recently decided that viewers are more interested in individual boxers than in actual boxing.
Besides Danny Garcia, Adonis Stevenson and Lamont Peterson have been given less than notable opponents to face in the past few months. If Showtime does indeed believe in a boxer-over-boxing strategy, there’s evidence that the network may be making a mistake. Showtime’s reputation has taken a hit lately, as did the ratings for Stevenson’s last fight. What’s more, it’s doubtful the Garcia-Salka matchup will be breaking any records come August.
Yet instead of taking the WBCs and WBAs decision not to sanction his next bout as a title endeavor in stride, Garcia has arguably gone and made things worse for what has become his increasingly shaky credibility. For Garcia has now reportedly decided he doesn’t want to have to make weight for the Salka bout – so the fight will subsequently be fought at a catchweight of 142 pounds.
As if fighting someone who isn’t even a contender weren’t enough, as if fighting someone who isn’t even in his weight class weren’t enough, Garcia has decided to give himself an extra weight advantage for his bout with Salka. There may be good reasons for Garcia deciding to do so, but if there are, the public doesn’t seem to want to hear them. Nor has Garcia been quick to let the world know what those reasons might be. Rather, the man seems to be content to risk having his popularity free fall.
And make no mistake about it, the man has been popular. He KO’d Amir Khan, he outfought Lucas Matthysse, he played the role of underdog through no choice of his own and still managed to come out on top repeatedly. Now however, many see him as having gone from underdog to top dog, and they’re not at all happy with the transition.
A concern is that Garcia may end up being seen by many the way Julio Caesar Chavez Junior is currently seen – as a pampered, less-than-serious individual who frequently finds himself on the receiving end of preferential treatment. Many people thought Garcia’s last victory, over Mauricio Herrera, was a gift from the judges, after all. And this entire Salka affair has done little to help the matter of his reputation.
Again, no one knows what’s really going on with Garcia besides the fighter himself and his inner circle. Therefore, it might well be irresponsible to point fingers and to make bold accusations. Still, when the WBA and WBC act in the manner they have for this bout, it’s time to step back and take notice.