Danny Garcia enters the ropes for the fortieth time in his professional career that began back in 2007. This marks his first appearance since 2020 when he dropped a unanimous decision to Errol Spence in a welterweight title bout. At thirty four years of age the decorated pro from Philly is fighting in his third weight class at junior middleweight and is entering what appears to be the decline phase of his career. I first became familiar with Danny Garcia back in 2009 when I took a trip to Temple University to see Bernard Hopkins headline a fight for the now dead Versus Network. Garcia was a new pro working his way up the ranks against Mexican fighter Enrique Colon and he stopped him in the second round. I was immediately a fan and watched him develop until he hit the big time against Erik Morales where he won his first world title. By then he had beaten former titlists Kendall Holt and Nate Campbell and tough contenders Mike Arnaoutis and Ashley Theophane. He hit the big time when he faced Amir Khan in 2012 to unify titles on the back of the moment and his controversial father Angel’s comments about Pakistan. Garcia scored a breakout performance with a fourth round technical knockout when he dropped Khan with a hard left hook at the end of the third round. He pursued Khan beating him pillar to post and dropping him two more times before Kenny Bayless had seen enough. Garcia was on his way to being a popular and polarizing figure in the sport.
Due to the prefight antics of his father, Garcia began to garner more attention but the negativity left him disliked by many groups of fans like the UK fans who never let go of the Khan shock. Angel agitated future opponents like Zab Judah who it looked like was going to take a swing at Angel in the build up to their bout. I saw it as the gimmick it was and separated the mild mannered Danny from his hot headed and inflammatory father Angel. In fact I thought it was the perfect ploy to let the dad do the shit talk and let the son do the fighting and some times it felt like the opponents were so fixated on Angel that they lost sight of the fight. After racking up several title defenses and winning in controlling fashion the biggest fight of his career came knocking. A title fight with the hard punching Argentine Lucas Mattysse was the chief support to Mayweather vs Canelo in September of 2013. At the time this was the highest grossing PPV event ever and Garcia got the biggest win of his career on that card. Mattysse was viewed as being among the biggest punchers in boxing and looked destined to be crowned champion. Many doubted Garcia and he entered as the underdog but dropped Mattysse for the first time in his career, closed his right eye and won an exciting unanimous decision. Then things got complicated.
The Floyd fight that many thought might be around the corner based on the big win on the undercard never materialized. Garcia then traveled to Puerto Rico to face unheralded Mauricio Herrera in a fight that many did not want as they saw Garcia as the type of fighter to be in bigger fights. Garcia made matters worse by winning a very controversial decision and not giving a rematch only to turn around and KO the hapless Rod Salka at the Barclay’s Center. His popularity had begun to take a real hit as he was a dud in the face of his biggest win having faced two less than satisfactory opponents and lost in the eyes of many against Herrera. At this time he faced titlist Lamont Peterson above the 140lb. limit on the then new Premier Boxing Championships and won another controversial decision. The fight started off as a dull calculated affair and ended with Peterson winning the late rounds and backing Garcia up and battering him along the ropes. The once rising name had won but developed a reputation similar to the one Canelo has now as a fighter who gets favorable judging. Danny began his campaign at welterweight by knocking out Paulie Malinaggi in a fight I remember watching down at the Jersey Shore. He then won the WBC title vacated by Floyd Mayweather by beating Robert Guerrero over twelve rounds. Floyd sat ringside but did not come out of retirement for a challenge.
Since that win in 2016 he has only fought seven times going 4-3 but won the fights he was supposed to win and lost to the world class guys. He lost a title unification to Keith Thurman in a fight that I felt was wider than the cards, scored a highlight reel KO over Brandon Rios and dumped a close loss to Shawn Porter on points in a chance to win back the WBC belt. I was at the Barclay’s center right before COVID in 2020 to see him face Ivan Redkach in what should have been a showcase but it was a dull fight that drew boos from the crowd. The biggest highlight was Redkach horribly behind on the cards biting Danny Garcia and yelling “Mike Tyson”! Amid the COVID crisis Garcia fought and lost soundly to Porter and that is where he has left us.
I mentioned obscurity in the title because there comes a point in every championship fighter’s career where they still have something physically but are not as popular as they once were and are teetering on the edge of their ability level. There is a time to still win some fights but ultimately this fighter is closer to being the name for a younger fighter with promise. Some fighters get out before they become someone else’s scalp but that is very rare. Garcia at thirty four is young in modern boxing age and averages less than three fights a year so the wear and tear might not necessarily be there. From the interviews and appearances I have seen of him over the years he strikes me as a content and happy family man which does not give off the hungry fighter vibe. I thought he was small at welterweight and his punch never carried up at 147 but at 154lbs. he may lack any power all together. If he wants to be champion his endgame is Jermell Charlo who holds all the belts. When I see their names together the word impossible enters my mind but Garcia has been an odds tester before. Lets see what he can do tonight.