When Danny Garcia takes to the ring to face off with Shawn Porter tomorrow for the WBC World Welterweight title, he could be the betting favorite. What he won’t be is the favorite in many hearts outside of his own and his family. Since Andre Ward stepped away from the game almost a year ago, it’s hard to think of a boxer who is more reviled than Danny Garcia.
The hatred of Ward was always hard for me to grasp. He never got into trouble. He won a gold medal for the United States, and he beat everyone he faced. Still, in both of his fights against Krusher Kovalev, the scene of the American arenas they fought in felt more like the last bout in Rocky IV as opposed to an American gold medalist fighting on the soil of his own country.
Alas, while that mystery endures, the mantle of the most hated must be passed down. While some may disagree, I think that crown rests upon the head of Danny Garcia. The heated disdain for Garcia is a little easier to grasp than that of Ward. He’s certainly cocky and pugnacious. He makes grand pronouncements and tosses out the occasionally mean-spirited bon mot at his opponent at a much higher rate than Ward. Still, this isn’t anything all that unusual for a prizefighter. Most would argue it comes with the territory.
So, what is it about Danny Garcia that makes him so easy to hate? I think it’s two things.
First, Danny’s dad is a true piece of work. There are guys that live through their children just a bit too much, and then there’s Angel Garcia. If Danny can be a bit on the harsh side of things verbally, Papa Garcia is on a whole other level. This father takes son braggadocio to heights heretofore unseen. You would be forgiven for thinking Angel was the fighter at times – such does his mouth run. The old man is constantly writing checks for his son’s ass to cash.
That brings me to point two. With the single exception of his loss to Keith Thurman in March of last year, Garcia has cashed them all. Which is perhaps a bit maddening for those repelled by Angel’s rhetoric. I think there’s also an issue with how Garcia has taken those checks to the bank. Garcia’s counterpunching style is often not the most pleasing to the eye. And despite his stellar 34-1 record with many a top-tier scalp on his resume, he doesn’t appear to be particularly great at any one thing. His hands are fast, but not lightning so. He packs a punch, but not an overly exceptional one. He’s not a pressure fighter, a knockout artist, fleetfooted, or otherworldly is any single regard. There’s not a lot to hang your adoration on. He just wins.
And let’s face it, some of those wins are not only controversial, but downright ugly. Only the most charitable set of eyes could have given him even a draw in his majority decision from March of 2014 over Mauricio Herrera. His beatdown of Rod “MAGA Pants” Salka was an embarrassment for Garcia as well as his terribly overmatched opponent – or precisely that reason. Salka had no right to be in the ring with Garcia and the whole enterprise took on a shameful, malodorous air.
His majority decision over Lamont Peterson was also underwhelming.
Peterson is a solid fighter, but Garcia, clearly the superior boxer, fought down to the level of his opponent. His unanimous decision over a faded Robert Guerrero offered no great memory-making moments either.
I can imagine those who root against Garcia find themselves tugging at their hair and gnashing their teeth at his results. He lacks style, a poppin’ persona, wins without allure, and his daddy is a pain in the ass.
While I recognize these considerations, I think much like Andre Ward (although not on the same talent level), we are missing out on what Garcia does do well. Take away his dad’s motormouth and Garcia is not unusually offensive. More importantly, Garcia is an overachiever in the ring. Despite lacking a big weapon or holding a remarkable skill set, he almost always finds a way. Not only that, he’s done it against some seriously first-class opponents.
Check the line, y’all. Garcia holds victories over the following luminaries: Nate Campbell, Kendall Holt, Erik Morales(X2), Amir Khan, Zab Judah, Lucas Matthysse, Lamont Peterson, Paulie Malinaggi, Robert Guerrero, and Brandon Rios.
Moreover, not all these wins have been of the unattractive variety. His KOs of Khan, Morales, Matthysse, and Rios were riveting, statement type conquests. The Judah fight did not lack for drama either.
Yet, here we are, waiting on Saturday night. The lion’s share of fight fans hoping the estimable opposition of Shawn Porter rolls over Garcia and shuts up him and his dad. Don’t bet on it though. It may not be pretty, or even dramatic, but I suspect on the night of September 8, 2018, Garcia is going to frustrate all of his opponents. The one inside the ring and all of those out of it.
Wind up your hate, haters. You are probably stuck with Danny Garcia for a good long while.