Frank Galarza is ready for Ishe Smith
Really, truly, his star was on the rise. He had a nickname, real catchy and potent, “The Brooklyn Rocky,” and word was spreading that this guy with the stellar back story and character and improving boxing skills was one to watch, if you were looking for an old-school-style pugilist to root for and follow.
Frank Galarza was headed toward graduation day, as he’d earned on “ShoBox,” and if he kept impressing, like in that second round knockout over John Thompson on Showtime, in January of 2014, he’d be edging up cards to main event status. Just had to keep winning.
Nothing simple about that, not in this sport, which is no game but a fight for survival. Galarza could have put himself into a spot where he’d be talked about for a title crack if he was able to beat Jarrett Hurd, on Showtime, from Vegas. This was a pretty typical ShoBox scrap, two climbers with glittering records thrown together to mash it up and see who’d rise and who’d fall. Hurd, for those who didn’t know, had a record befitting his talent. Quickly, you saw this was a kid comfortable in the ring, the way he moved and breathed and played angles…he impressed. The now 31-year-old Galarza, he’d looked better.
Some snap was missing. Was he drained? Overtrained?
Or was there some of that but, also, Hurd – obviously a gem – now revealed to more eyeballs? The hidden diamond, by round six, ended the evening for Galarza (17-1-2, 11 knockouts, Brooklyn, promoted by DiBella Entertainment).
A six-round stoppage, the first loss of a career started late, in 2010.
Now the question: How would he take it?
He’d had a fun run, after a childhood that featured an unfair amount of sadness. Mom died; Dad died. Street life beckoned with crooked finger. Galarza soldiered on – That’s the right phrasing. He had to battle to stay aloft mentally, ethically, spiritually – and was succeeding. How would he handle defeat?
Like a soldier, it sounds like. One grounded in a spiritual foundation, who tries to keep it simple. “Everything happens for a reason, Mike,” Galarza told me days before his return to the ring, against Ishe Smith, Friday night on a PBC on Bounce TV card. “This fight will be my time to shine. It’s all about heart and passion for me. This is to prove I’m not a mediocre fighter!”
Smith (3-3 in his last six; briefly held the IBF 154-pound crown in 2013) has been no merely mediocre fighter. On a good night, he’s a tough out for a good fighter. He’s 38, up in age, and 28-8 (12 KOs), so, long ago, he’d grappled with the taste of the first L, for better and worse.
Galarza looks like a well-schooled fighter. He has good balance, a smart long jab, uses combos, varies head and body, changes levels, moves smartly, looks to end the matter when a foe is hurt, if you haven’t seen him fight. He owns pop in both hands, with a long right and a left hook that has oomph on it.
Galarza is promising himself to be smart, hydrate the right way heading into this fight. He promises not to put too much pressure on himself, so as to start pressing, feeling overanxious as he did versus Hurd. And his eyes have been opened to brutal truths. You are only as good as your last fight. “Mike,” he said, “that wasn’t a setback; it was just the start of something new!”
This could be a dogfight, people. Galarza isn’t expecting that the judges would be inclined to give him the nod over the man promoted by Floyd Mayweather Jr.. “It’s in Vegas. He’s got that promoter, ‘Mr. Las Vegas,’ so the only thing left is to win by stoppage. I have to beat Ishe up. I’m gonna take his heart!”
Before Michael Woods started going by the nickname “Woodsy,” he was also known as “The Brooklyn Rocky.” But it’s really hard to strike fear in your media contemporaries when you’re named after a cartoon flying squirrel.
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