Commentary: Why Danny Garcia should be considered a ‘B-plus Player’
There was a storyline about 18 months ago in the wonderful world of professional wrestling where former superstar-turned-authority figure, Triple H, and his wife – who just so happens to be the daughter of WWE CEO Vince McMahon – Stephanie McMahon berated the undersized wrestler Daniel Bryan for not meeting the physical standards of what a world champion should look like.
HHH and Stephanie, otherwise known as The Authority, condescendingly branded the scrappy underdog as a “B+ player” who is good, but simply not good enough to be the top draw in the business. It was an excellent narrative that eventually saw Bryan prove his worth by climbing the proverbial mountain against seemingly insurmountable odds to become the World Heavyweight Champion at Wrestlemania 30.
Although professional wrestling is scripted, there is a lot of truth behind the concept of what constitutes a B+ player. There are stars, and then there are superstars. There are also stars who are pushed to become superstars only to have the rug pulled out from under them because they lack a certain intangible to get them over the top.
In boxing, there is another B+ player who has proven to be good, but is lacking a certain something that would put him into position to become boxing’s next big draw after Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Manny Pacquiao finally take that long walk into the sunset and leave a tremendous void in the boxing world. But unlike his pro wrestling counterpart, this fighter isn’t being held back by any kind of authority figure. As a matter of fact, he’s been propped up quite well by the boxing world but has failed to live up to the expectations.
And that B+ boxer is none other than Danny “Swift” Garcia. A marketable and undefeated slugger from Philly with a Puerto Rican background, a father with a mouth that won’t stop and what appears to be all of the tools to be a major draw.
However, there’s something missing. And it’s a glaring hole that varies depending on who you ask. For some, it’s Garcia’s lack of personality, which is compensated by his father, Angel, and his boisterous outbursts. But for others, it’s what Garcia does inside of the ring that draws the most concern. Yes, he’s undefeated with a record of 30-0 (17 knockouts) but he has yet to truly wow audiences when he needs to.
And if any further evidence is needed that Garcia isn’t quite ready to take over as a superstar in the squared circle, take a really close look at his showdown against Lamont Peterson where, once again, it looked like Garcia struggled mightily with yet another slick boxer and scraped out a win by the skin of his teeth. That’s not what elite boxers do against competition that they are expected to beat. And, no, Lamont Peterson is far from a pushover. However, the fact that the Washington D.C. fighter employed a strategy that exploited Garcia’s struggles against boxers in the first half of the fight and then shifted gears to play the aggressor and bust up the Puerto Rican’s face pretty good is a signifier that perhaps Garcia might be a tad overrated.
It was yet another fight where the loser comes out looking better than the winner (look no further than Garcia’s controversial victory over Mauricio Herrera last March for proof). Despite Garcia keeping his unbeaten record intact, the WBC, WBA (Super) and Ring Magazine junior welterweight champion has done everything but look like a champion over the past year. And with a future at 147 pounds on the horizon, there is reason to believe that Garcia might not be ready for the likes of Keith Thurman, Timothy Bradley or Kell Brook.
It would be one thing if this were just a bad night at the office. But if you comb over the career of Danny Garcia, you see a portfolio that has quite a few holes that prevents Garcia from making the leap into the upper echelon of the boxing world.
The pristine record sounds better on paper than it is seen in practice. The two victories over a faded Erik Morales are little more than putting a future hall of famer’s name on a resume. The same can be said for Zab Judah as one could argue that the Judah of old may have boxed circles around Garcia. His fourth-round TKO against Amir Khan would have been more impressive if it weren’t for the fact that Khan was out-boxing Garcia before the Brit’s fragile jaw was met by the Puerto Rican’s formidable left hook. It’s hard to believe that if the two met again at 147 that the result would be the same. Even though Khan lost, a blueprint was laid that suggests a boxer who utilizes movement will give Garcia fits. And it’s something he still hasn’t figured out.
It wasn’t until the Lucas Matthysse fight that Garcia shed the perennial underdog title and looked as if he were primed for stardom. Against the heavy hitting Argentinean, Garcia stood his ground and traded with Matthysse. Not only did he prove he could outslug the slugger, but he also affirmed that he had a sturdy chin that could handle the likes of Matthysse and his notorious power shots.
It looked as if 2014 would be the year that Garcia proved his status amongst the elite but he only left more questions than answers with an underwhelming campaign that saw him get his hand raised in a controversial majority decision over Herrera and then score a knockout over an undersized and virtually unknown Rod Salka.
The assumption was that Garcia wanted to put a rather uneventful 2014 behind him with a stellar performance against Peterson. After all, Peterson had been flattened by Matthysse a couple of years ago and Garcia was thought to be faster and possibly stronger than his Argentinean counterpart. But, as it has become a regular occurrence since his victory over Matthysse, Garcia went out and underwhelmed yet remained unbeaten.
In what could have been an audition to see who would be the next opponent for Floyd Mayweather or Manny Pacquiao, Garcia did little more than put more doubt into the minds of many that he belonged in the same ring with either fighter. But it’s not like Garcia isn’t aware that he’s not quite in the league of either fighter as he once again danced around the question of whether he would be willing to fight either superstar next.
“I would love to fight one of them,” Garcia said after the fight. “But I need a couple of fights at 147 first.”
Give Garcia credit for being honest. But honestly, that’s not what a superstar says when asked if he’s ready for the big time. Although Adrien Broner has questionable antics and an ego that would find a soccer stadium claustrophobic, he would never feign modesty in a post-fight interview. More importantly, he’d take full advantage on national television when the world is begging for boxing’s next big star to step into the spotlight.
But maybe Garcia felt like he lost the fight. A hot mic picked up what sounded like Garcia telling Peterson “I lost” after the final bell rang. Perhaps he knows that he has a whole lot of work to do before stepping into the ring with an elite 147 pounder. As it stands, Floyd Mayweather would give him a lesson in how the sweet science works. Pacquiao’s speed would give the Philly fighter fits.
Garcia is only 27 and has time to work on his flaws. Although the question mark that surrounds his future hangs over the head of his father/trainer, Angel Garcia, and if he is the man who can take his fighter to the next level. The unbeaten record looks great on paper but there are far too many moments when Garcia has squeaked by or simply looked underwhelming. And until he figures out when to step on the accelerator and deal with movement, he’ll forever be known as a B+ player that a hungry up and coming fighter will salivate over.
He’ll have to grow up soon because the 147-pound division is stuffed with names that will either thoroughly outclass Garcia (Brook, Bradley and a seemingly much improved Khan) or knock his head off (Thurman). He’s going to have to go through one of then in the next 12-18 months in order to prove that he can carry the torch. No more Rod Salkas or underwhelming performances against solid competition. The time to step up is nowÔÇªunless he’s comfortable being a B+ player forever.