Two and a half years ago, Danny Garcia delivered a career-defining performance against Lucas Matthysse. He did it in the biggest stage possible: during the undercard of Mayweather-Canelo, which up to that point, was the biggest money fight in boxing history. Garcia shone in the bright lights of the MGM Grand Arena. He withstood Matthysse’s early onslaught and then punched the Argentinian’s eye to swelling before hacking out a hard-fought but impressive unanimous decision win. And oh yes, he dropped Matthysse in Round 11, the first time the Machine was ever floored in his professional career:
Prior to that bout, Matthysse’s record was a fearsome 34-2 with 32 KOs. His two losses were controversial split decisions to Zab Judah and Lamont Peterson. Against Garcia, Matthysse wasn’t just the favorite, he was favored to KO Danny Garcia. Instead, Garcia proved his doubters wrong and seemed like he was headed to superstardom.
Three fights later, Danny Garcia is nowhere near the superstar status he appeared to be headed to. That breakout performance was followed by a downward trend that included disputed wins over Mauricio Herrera and Lamont Peterson plus underwhelming KOs of an overmatched Rod Salka and an over the hill Paulie Malignaggi. Make no mistake though, Garcia is an impressive 31-0 with 18 KOs but he’s been ridiculed as “Gift” instead of his preferred nickname “Swift” because of his controversial wins and the “protection” he is perceived to be getting from Al Haymon who runs his show.
On Saturday, Garcia has another opportunity to shine under the bright lights. This time, he may be fighting in a stage bigger than the one when he fought Matthysse. He will be fighting Robert Guerrero or the WBC welterweight title in the inaugural PBC on Fox and the fight will be held at the world’s brightest stage-Staples Center in Los Angeles:
Garcia acknowledges that, via Latin Post:
“This is a huge opportunity for me to show why I’m a star, and there’s no better place to do that than in Los Angeles, where stars are born.”
Hollywood is associated with stars and Garcia is hoping for a star-making performance, the kind that Terence Crawford put up at the CenturyLink Center in Omaha against Yuriorkis Gamboa. The problem with Danny Garcia though is his opponent (again). While Robert Guerrero is a multiple division world champion, he is believed to be just a Ghost of his glorious past. Like Garcia, Guerrero’s career looks like it’s on a downward trend. He’s 2-2 in his last four bouts. And although his losses have been to Floyd Mayweather and Keith Thurman, Guerrero looked lackluster in his most recent bout against journeyman Aron Martinez where he was floored in round four and where he inexplicably won via split decision. Guerrero though insists he isn’t over the hill:
“It’s OK that people are writing me off. Everyone is entitled to their opinion. It’s definitely a motivating factor going into this fight. I know everyone’s picking Danny Garcia to win. But everyone knows when my back is against the wall, I’m very difficult to beat.”
What Guerrero means is that his middle name should be “Warrior” because he’s been involved in some of the most punishing fights in recent memory:
That’s what Guerrero looked like against Berto. He looked almost identical against Kamegai and against Thurman which all lasted the distance.
What is left in Robert Guerrero’s tank and armor is unknown, especially since he has been fighting since 2001. He’s been knocked down in each of his last two fights and has noticeably been hittable, contrary to his nickname “Ghost” which was given to him during his teenage years because he was unhittable.
Like Malignaggi, Guerrero is a former champion and a big name. But like Malignaggi, Guerrero’s best years may be behind him already. This is the reason why Danny Garcia’s fight on Saturday is almost a no-win situation. If he wins soundly, five rounds as he predicted, his critics will say he beat another washed up opponent. If he loses, well he’ll be a goner for sure. But what we’re saying is Danny Garcia is so good a boxer and fighter:
He needs to fight the likes of Keith Thurman, Shawn Porter, Kell Brook and even Amir Khan whom he already beat in 2012. A fight with the latter could happen as Khan has been selected as mandatory challenger for the winner of Garcia-Guerrero WBC welterweight title bout. But is that the direction Al Haymon wants Garcia to go?
In order for Garcia to be the star that he desires and truly deserves, he has to fight the best. He must do it not just for himself but for the fans that still adore him and who are still waiting for that star to be born.