By: Sean Cross
In the year “At the end of the day, I don’t pick my opponents,” Danny Garcia said in the summer of 2014. “My manager, Al Haymon, does, and I’m not against it at all.” This was not what fans wanted to hear from the Philadelphia Warriors at the time. The undefeated Garcia, one of the biggest names in boxing at the time, was about to face a virtual unknown named Rod Salka in a bout that on paper looked clearly criminally abusive. Even the WBC and WBA, whose junior welterweight titles Garcia holds, refused to rule out the fight — and with good reason.
As I wrote after the match: “Garcia’s harder punch put the man away in seconds. Then Salka went down on one knee after the round. Then Garcia was on his back as the crowd went crazy and Willis stopped the fight. It may not have been a failed affair, but it was fairly predictable. This certainly wasn’t one of Garcia’s – or boxing’s – greatest moments. As I wrote bitterly in the same piece, Salka “was an unknown who worked an entire weight class below him (Garcia). Garcia is now an unknown who fights at a higher weight than he normally fights.
It was an ugly time to be sure – but ultimately there’s more to people than their darkest moments and it wouldn’t be fair if Garcia was one day only remembered for that terrible night. Fortunately, Garcia is remembered for much more. The current 34-year-old former world title holder has built an impressive 36-3 record over a nearly fifteen-year career – much of it against some of the most dangerous and challenging names in the business. Aamir Khan, Shawn Porter, Pauly Malignaggi, Keith Thurman, Brandon Rios, Errol Spence, Jr.…Garcia deserves credit because, frankly, he’s got pretty high competition.
Garcia is also, in fact, a nice and nice guy, which makes it easy to wish him well when he returns to the ring after more than a year and a half to take on Jose Benevidez Jr. in the main event of Showtime this coming Saturday. Although Benevidez Jr. is no Jermell Charlo, he is certainly no joke. One can hardly say that this weekend’s rematch will be a walk in the proverbial park, considering that Garcia has moved up to junior middleweight at this point and will be facing legitimate competition. In other words, the future of the fighter known as “Swift” is currently uncertain – and that’s a good thing. People who step into the unknown deserve some respect.