Joseph Santoliquito

Inside Team Garcia – Part II

 

During a two-day span in August RingTV.com writer Joseph Santoliquito was imbedded with Danny Garcia and his team as they prepped for the New York press conference announcing his Oct. 20 rematch against Erik Morales at the new Barclays Center in Brooklyn. Here is part two of Santoliquito’s minute-by-minute breakdown of what transpired before, during and after the Golden Boy Promotions media event for the big Showtime quadrupleheader.

Click here to read part one.

 

Thursday, Aug. 30

9:00 a.m.: Team Garcia is getting itself together for today’s press conference. They’re a pretty organized and quick group. Unlike many boxing entourages, these guys move with alacrity. Of course, it’s Angel always thinking ahead, always organizing: “My goal is for Danny to do as little as possible” Angel says. “He does his bodily functions in the morning and that’s it.”

10:00 a.m.: Team Garcia is out the door and, not surprisingly, Danny is the first fighter to arrive at the Salons A Ballroom in the main lobby of the Marriott, where the presser will be held.

10:16 a.m.: As soon as Danny shows his face in the ballroom, media members descends on him like vultures. They’re all over the young champion, including a round, bombastic little man with an over-the-top interviewing style. He’s literally yelling at Danny.

10:37 a.m.: The media descends on Angel, too. They know the father of the new face in boxing will say something out of the blue, something that will stir the verbal dust storm. But Angel’s biggest concern isn’t Danny, or Team Garcia. It’s actually the round, bombastic interviewer in the red shirt, who’s now yelling at him.

10:53 a.m.: “Man that one media guy, the little fat man yelling, he was killing me,” says Angel, waving his hand in front of his face. “His breath smelled like a skunk in the toilet. It made me want to puke; even his mic stunk. It smelled like ass. I didn’t want to be rude to him – but he kept his nasty-ass mic in my face. I was trying to hold it in, but I was going to puke right there on him.”

11:07 a.m.: As the press conference is about to begin, a new person appears on the edges of Team Garcia. It’s Sylvia, Al Haymon’s right-hand woman, there shadowing Team Garcia and Danny’s every move. Sylvia is constantly on the phone, double- and triple-checking everything, always hovering; a professional presence who isn’t burdensome. As a representative of Danny’s influential manager, one begins to understand why Haymon has such high-powered boxing clients. They has pros like Sylvia backing them up. He’s very hands-on, in this case, through Sylvia.

11:18 a.m: Danny is constantly shadow boxing or punching at something. He can’t walk by a mirror without looking at himself throwing a left hook or a jab or a right cross. He’s not looking to catch up on his looks … “I want to be perfect,” Danny says. “It’s why I’m always checking myself. It really doesn’t matter where it is. I want to be perfect with everything I throw and everything I do in the ring. I think that’s why I do it. I do it so much I don’t even realize I’m doing it sometimes. I’m a perfectionist. I always want to look good in the ring.”

11:23 a.m.: Team Garcia will also have a new addition today, Monica Sears, the director of communications and events for Golden Boy Promotions. Monica does everything from organize the fighters on the dais, to setting up the stage, to making sure each media person gets what they need. Golden Boys’ unsung hero does all the thankless jobs that no one else wants to do. She does everything but juggle watermelons.

1:08 p.m.: The press conference ends, and Kelly Swanson is barking out orders. Anyone around boxing long enough knows Swanson, head of Swanson Communications and one of boxing’s leading publicists. She may be Sergeant Swanson in some circles and a pain in the ass, but she’s awfully good at what she does and is very efficient, somehow able to direct this maelstrom of a boxing press conference. This conference runs more smoothly than most, thanks to Swanson and Sears, and since it’s mostly New York-based media involved.

1:12 p.m.: A human wave descends upon again on Danny, who is accommodating; maybe too accommodating. He can’t seem to say no to anyone. Large media, small-time media, fan-boy media or real press – Danny puts on a smile and is ready – as is Angel.

“People forget we’re all in boxing together; it’s why boxing has sunk so long,” Angel says to one New York outlet, “because it’s so busy hurting itself with these cards on the same night and everyone out to get the other. You don’t see that in other sports. Every team wants to beat the hell out of every other team in the NFL or in baseball, but in the end, they all profit. In boxing, they kill each other to make a buck.”

1:30-4:30 p.m.: Team Garcia lunches and then does a private Showtime photo shoot to promote the fight.

4:55 p.m.: Team Garcia packs into a group of vans and arrives at the fabled Gleason’s Gym, but it’s hard to tell the legendary gym if you don’t know where it is. Scaffolding and smeared windows out front make it look like it’s under construction. You have to look up through the rusted scaffold piping to see Gleason’s letters spelled out in the windows.

4:57 p.m.: Team Garcia walks up the rickety wooden steps to arrive at Gleason’s greeted by a problem at the door in the form of an older, blunt rotund woman in a purple T-shirt. She guards the entrance to the grand place like a sentry at Buckingham Palace initially refusing anyone entry. She tells Team Garcia that the gym is closed for a Showtime video shoot. When she’s told that this is Team Garcia, the fighter being featured in the shoot, she still doesn’t allow the team through. After a few minutes of haggling, and told again the shoot involves the very fighter she’s holding up at the door, she finally relents and let’s everyone in. Team Garcia laughs.

5:03 p.m.: Danny is dressed in black with a white t-shirt and a black sports jacket. The Showtime production team are asking him various questions, much of which were the same questions he answered ad nauseam earlier in the day at the Golden Boy press conference announcing the fight. The Showtime crew directs everyone emphatically to “Shut up!”

5:19 p.m.: The long day is beginning to wear on Team Garcia. The normally tireless Angel appears as if he’s going to fall asleep sitting on a stationary bike, all the while, Danny’s brother Erik is like the anchor of the family. He doesn’t get too high or too low. He’s hard to excite, yet he is there with a ready smile and an incredible ability to fall asleep in awkward positions. This afternoon he’s beginning to dose a few stationary bikes down from his dad while somehow managing to remain upright.

5:27 p.m.: Someone blurts out a comment about Danny being in boxing trunks longer today without throwing a punch than in the actual fight against Morales. He is photogenic but the long day is beginning to appear on his face. The Showtime crew is now shooting him wrapping his hands. He’s trying to look as casual as he can, but the constant direction and tugging begin to get on his nerves. Still, he complies with everything; not so much with the ever-ready smile he usually wears.

5:30 p.m.: “Rolling!” Showtime’s crew chief yells as Danny positions himself in the center of one of Gleason’s four rings. “Full intensity” someone yells out to Danny as he goes through another 30 seconds of throwing combinations into Gleason’s dark, dusty air, a bull’s snort with each punch thrown. Danny’s flurry is finally stopped when someone yells “Lens change!”

5:40 p.m.: Danny is closing the Showtime shoot by raising his head in one of those deliberate ways that opens up a cable broadcast. The one dramatic moment you won’t see on the Oct. 20 Showtime buildup for the fight is Danny letting a sneeze loose that had been stewing for about three minutes. “Hey, why don’t you run with that one,” he jokes. Danny again will undergo five minutes of the slow head raises, and head down; head raises and head down. All prompted by “Action!” (How often can someone rise and drop their head for dramatic effect?)

5:47 p.m.: Everything finally wraps up at Gleason’s. Okay, so we thought.

5:55 p.m.: WBA welterweight titleholder and Brooklyn native Paulie Malignaggi shows up and the production crew goes through the same process again. It’s painstaking and arduous. Still, everyone complies.

6:05 p.m.: Now Team Garcia is told they’ll need to come back to Gleason’s at 6:30 for another shoot. So they opt to stay. When the Showtime director yells “Quiet!” someone from Team Garcia accidentally hits the button on a treadmill releasing a loud winding sound. The guys all cup their hands over their mouths to prevent them from laughing out loud.

6:27 p.m.: Gleason’s is opened to the general public and a pile of business men and other assorted types of varying athletic prowess come flowing in. They make an interesting mix with a pair of world-class fighters like Garcia and Malignaggi. Yet, the patrons go about their business, apparently used to the many pros that frequent Gleason’s.

6:30 p.m.: Danny is told to get back into his tiger-colored boxing gear for an additional photo shoot by the Brooklyn Bridge and at Coney Island.

6:45 p.m.: You find Angel can talk to anyone. A Russian Olympic trainer occupies his time and the two reminisce about a meeting in 2005 when Danny was still an amateur.

6:50 p.m.: After another shoot,Malignaggi and Danny fill idle time by milling around in their fight garb in the far corner of Gleason’s; waiting for Erik Morales to arrive to shoot the two co-features at Coney Island.

7:55 p.m.: It takes over an hour to traverse NYC traffic during rush hour, but finally a caravan of six Showtime cars arrives at Coney Island.

8:09 p.m.: Garcia and his team appear as the Showtime crew looks for good lighting and an area to shoot Danny with as little outside interference as possible. Danny fills the waiting time watching a video on his phone of his Amir Khan knockout. Then Danny, Angel, Koz, Hip-Hop and Erik are told the Showtime people are ready. But passersby can’t help but interrupt, stopping to yell, “Look, a reality show!” Some recognize Danny, some ask who he is. He stops and poses for pictures with families and children. Anyone who approaches him, he obliges.

8:29 p.m.: Morales, meanwhile, sits in the back of a black limo in front of the silver Chevy Suburban Garcia’s team arrived in. Only Morales is a little timid about popping out. He refuses to take his gray tank top off during the shoot, opting instead to wear a silk blue Everlast robe, standing about 15 feet away from Team Garcia, who humorously absorb the scene.

“Yeah, Morales doesn’t want anyone to see he’s as fat as me,” says Erik Garcia, belching out a huge laugh, grabbing his ample belly. “I saw him during the weigh-ins and he’s fat as hell.”

8:37 p.m.: One thing is certain, once Morales emerges from the limo, fans walking by do seem to recognize him more than they do the other fighters Showtime is shooting at Coney Island this Thursday night (Aug. 30). Morales is cooperative and quite friendly to fans, willing to pose for pictures with numerous families. Morales’ father, Jose, is far less comfortable about this setting. Peter Quillin, Malignaggi and Garcia are laughing it up talking among themselves, posing with fans and engaging everyone. Once the camera lights are off so is the gregarious Morales. The smile quickly evaporates. He goes back to being standoffish. Fans mill around the caravan talking about the fight, while the Showtime crew shoots Quillin. The majority of the talk among the fighters is how heavy Morales appears, and the pressing question is can he lose over 20 pounds in eight-to-nine weeks. As everyone else seems re-energized and enjoying the atmosphere, the whole scene appears to be the last place on earth Morales wants to be. He seems in denial that he’s not a superstar anymore, still feeling a sense of entitlement deserving star treatment.

10:08 p.m.: Finally, the last shoot, and it couldn’t come in a more panoramic setting than gorgeous, bucolic Brooklyn Park this August mid-week evening. Brooklyn Park is filled with couples sitting on wooden benches who look on with curiosity as the caravan of Showtime cars pull up, unloading equipment and searching for the best locations to shoot.

10:15 p.m.: Danny and his small entourage spill out of the silver Chevy Suburban. Quillin and Malignaggi also appear, as does Morales. All four fighters are still in their fight gear, and they receive a few odd looks, but enough people there know who they are and take pictures.

10:27 p.m.: The shoot begins in front of the Brooklyn Park area and then proceeds into the park. There, an older woman approaches the group and thinks it’s an ambulance and medic team when she’s told it’s a group of fighters. She then believes a fight is about to break out, before someone eventually gets through to her that it’s a photo shoot – not a fight in the middle of Brooklyn Park at 10:30 on a Thursday night. 

10:37 p.m.: In the meantime, the fighters are patiently waiting through lens changes and lighting adjustments, and during these down times Quillin, Malignaggi and Danny joke and converse, while Morales, still bound in the silk, blue Everlast robe he wore in front of the Coney Island amusement park, sits by himself looking, well, disgusted. He’s pleasant to people passing by and is willing to nod or shake an extended hand. Otherwise, Morales wants to be left alone and wears the expression “Keep your effen distance.”

11:03 p.m.: A long day comes to a conclusion. There is just one small issue, Showtime’s crackerjack driver Jesse has taken off and Danny and his team appear to be stranded for the moment. Sears gets on the ball again and tracks down Jesse, who is dropping off Malignaggi’s people. He says he’s going to be back in 15 minutes.

11:12 p.m.: While waiting for Jesse’s return, Team Garcia notices one of the Showtime crew trying to wheel a heavy generator up a metal ramp into the back of a van. Each futile try results in something worse, and Team Garcia looks at each other and laughs in a Seinfeld moment. When one of the ramps tips over, Angel, Erik and Koz look at each other, and then walk over to help the man. The four team up to lug the heavy generator up the ramp and on the van. A minute later, Jesse shows up and the day is over. Team Garcia proceeds to laugh it up again, as Danny reminds everyone how Angel kept confusing Hip-Hop’s name and calling him “Tupac” instead. “Who’s Hip-Hop?” Angel asks, “We need to drop off Tupac back in Philly.” Danny answers, “Who’s going to drop off Tupac? Dad, his name is Hip-Hop, not Tupac.”

Everyone laughs as the van drives off back to the Marriott.

 

 

Photos / Tom Hogan and Rich Kane – Hoganphotos/Golden Boy Promotions

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