PHILADELPHIA—It’s easy to drive by Danny Garcia’s new gym more than a few times. If you’re lucky, maybe a neighbor at the top of the block will point you in the general direction.
Even when you do find it, the handsomely indistinct brown building, enclosed by a cyclone fence topped with barbed wire, bears no signs that one of the best fighters on the planet works out there, save for the raised engraving on the facade and over the back entrance initialed ‘DSG,’ for Danny “Swift” Garcia.
This is where Garcia chooses to train, in his home city, among family and friends, for the biggest fight of his life, against punching machine Lucas Matthysse on the undercard of the Floyd Mayweather-Saul Alvarez megafight at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.
And again, to hear the prognosticators and so-called “boxing insiders” spell it out, Garcia has no chance before he climbs into the ring on Sept. 14 to defend his RING, WBA and WBC junior welterweight titles for the fourth time.
In fact, many believe Garcia-Matthysse will supersede the main event as far as sustained (though possibly one-sided) action, making the boxing event of the year that much more of a must-see for fight fans and casual fans alike.
Garcia (26-0, 16 knockouts) still wears on his forehead the remnants of the cut from his last fight, a unanimous victory over Zab Judah on April 27 at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, now somewhat healed.
The cut occurred about 30 seconds into the 12th round of the Judah victory, when the fighters’ heads collided. Garcia backed away tapping at his forehead, and blood began trickling down his nose.
“It’s going to be okay,” Garcia reassured a visitor before welcoming the media to an open workout on Wednesday afternoon at his new gym on North Philly’s Jasper Street. “I’m right where I want to be, underestimated, with no one really giving me a chance, just like I was in the same spot when I faced Amir Khan. I’m back in Vegas, and remember what happened the last time no one expected me to win, back in Vegas?”
It was the fight that made Garcia a star and threw a shockwave into the boxing world. Garcia is ready to do it again, only this time against his most formidable opponent, Matthysse (34-2, 32 KOs), who has stopped his last six foes, including the devastating three-round destruction of Lamont Peterson on May 18 in Atlantic City, with Garcia sitting ringside.
“He’s just another fighter,” Garcia said. “I know he has a big punch. But I’m more confident than ever and I’m going to show everybody. Matthysse is a good fighter, but I’m a good fighter, too, and I’m a little tired of people [dismissing] me. The world is going to see what I can really do. I still haven’t shown my best yet. I really don’t worry about people’s opinions, because after I beat Matthysse, they’re going to shoot holes into how he wasn’t very good, and there’s going to be someone else out there who’s supposed to beat me.
“If [Matthysse] tries to open up early on me and tries to knock me out, that’s going to leave an opening for me.”
What gnaws at Angel Garcia, Danny’s trainer and outspoken father, is the fact that many boxing experts have said Garcia is “stepping up” to fight Matthysse. That they saw “fear” in Danny’s eyes the night Steve Smoger counted over the fallen Peterson in Atlantic City back in May.
“That pisses me off,” Angel said. “Danny’s the champ, Matthysse is a bum, and Danny’s going to prove it. Danny’s isn’t the one stepping up to Matthysse, Matthysse is stepping up to fight Danny. Wait and see, Danny is going to chop this bum up. You see it’s the same old thing with Danny, no one giving us any credit.
“Danny is THE RING champion, and Matthysse is the one on the cover of the magazine. That’s the kind of stuff that I’m talking about. It’s why I say we never get the respect we deserve. I heard some of that s— that Danny is supposed to be afraid of Matthysse. Danny’s not afraid of anyone. Matthysse has beaten guys he was supposed to beat. Danny has beaten guys who were supposed to beat him. … Danny’s going to beat this bum, because he’s a bum. What has he won, what has he done?”
According to the Garcias, it was Matthysse’s camp that thwarted the three-stop press tour that was scheduled to visit Los Angeles, New York and Puerto Rico.
Angel stressed it means no hump in Danny’s training regimen. It means more time in Garcia’s plush new gym, which has an enclosed seated waiting area, a fresh ring canvas with ‘DSG’ splashed across the middle, with new heavybags and speedbags. Garcia’s grand plan is to have the one-story building house a barbershop in front, with an auto mechanic shop on the side (two car lifts are already installed) and his gym tucked in the back.
It’s his little palace, paid for by his accomplishments, success Garcia is planning to build on—possibly with a sign out front that says the world’s junior welterweight champion trains here.
“That’s not me,” the ever-humble Danny says, smiling. “I don’t have to yell I’m world champion. I know it. But people will see that I am on Sept. 14. Matthysse will definitely find that out.”
Photos by Naoki Fukuda