LAS VEGAS — Perhaps the highlight of Wednesday’s open workout for junior welterweight champ Danny Garcia occurred when the 25-year-old boxer-puncher jumped rope while his father and trainer, Angel Garcia, danced to the rythym of blaring music while in a boxing ring constructed in the lobby of the MGM Grand, site of his fight with No. 1-rated Lucas Matthysse on Showtime Pay Per View.
The co-feature to the Floyd Mayweather Jr.-Canelo Alvarez fight, the bout with Matthysse (34-2, 32 knockouts) represents the fifth for Garcia (26-0, 16 KOs) at the MGM Grand, and his ninth in Las Vegas. Garcia has defeated six straight current or former titleholders over a span of two years starting in April of 2011.
“Like I’ve told you before, man, I was born for this. This is natural for me. I already know that fight week is a hectic week with the media and you’ve got to adjust,” said Garcia, speaking while encircled by reporters and sitting ringside before starting his regimen.
“You can’t always go according to your schedule, because there is a lot of things. That can mess a fighter up when you’ve got your mind set on something and you’ve got to do something else. But I’m already mentally prepared for it, and I’m here and I’m ready.”
Matthysse will be making his third appearance in Las Vegas, having debuted at the MGM Grand with a first-round stoppage of Roman Duran in May of 2007. A man who is 4-2 with four knockouts against six current or former titleholders, having floored all of them, Matthysse also stopped Olusegun Ajose in the 10th-round at the Hard Rock Hotel in Las Vegas last September.
But Matthysse’s two appearances in the gambling city were not of the magnitude of three of Garcia’s, which include a unanimous decision over former lightweight titleholder Nate Campbell at the MGM Grand in May of 2011, and a fourth-round stoppage of Amir Khan last July at the Mandalay Bay Hotel.
“When I stepped to him yesterday, he kind of seemed surprised,” said Garcia, referring to a face-to-face with Matthysse during their Grand Arrivals. “He’s used to people being scared of him, but I’m not scared of nobody.”
Garcia was 15-0 with 10 knockouts when he earned a split-decision over Ashley Theophane, who will face Pablo Cesar Cano on Saturday’s card. Garcia has also overcome hammer-fisted Kendall Holt by split-decision in October of 2011, and scored a fourth-round knockout four-division beltwinner Erik Morales in March of last year.
During his last fight in April, Garcia scored an eighth-round knockdown on the way to a unanimous decision over ex-beltholder Zab Judah, whom Matthysse dropped in the 10th round of a 12-round split-decision loss in November of 2010.
Matthysse’s other loss was by disputed split-decision to current IBF welterweight titleholder Devon Alexander in June of 2011, this, after having scored a fourth-round knockdown.
Asked who is making the biggest step up in terms of the atmosphere and opponent between Matthysse and himself, Garcia responded, “He is.”
“I’m the best fighter he’s ever faced. He’s not the best fighter I’ve ever faced. I’ve fought way better fighters with skills. He might be the strongest, but he’s not the best. Like I’ve said before, I’ve fought better fighters than him. Amir Khan’s a better fighter than him. He’s faster and he’s got more skills. Boxing’s about skills, and it’s not always about power,” said Garcia.
“If it was all about power, he’d be a world champion right now. I had to grow up. I’m 25 years old, but I’m like a young veteran in the game. I’ve been fighting veterans. I’ve been fighting strong fighters. I’ve been fighting fast fighters. I’ve been fighting world-class fighters. I’ve been fighting a lot of good fighters, man. I’ve been growing, man. I’m a lot smarter, now, and I’m going to go in there and get the job done.”
Garcia’s boast comes in the wake of having been ringside with his father in May when Matthysse scored three knockdowns during a third-round stoppage of IBF 140-pound beltholder Lamont Peterson for his sixth straight stoppage victory in a non-title bout.
“You know, he’s had a couple of good knockouts, and he’s buzzing in the boxing world right now, so that’s how boxing is. They go off of your last fight. We know that he relies a lot on his power. We know that if he didn’t have that power, he wouldn’t be here right now. So he knows that he has that power, and he’s going to try to use it. But my job is to take his power away,” said Garcia.
“Of course I wanted the fight. That’s why I’m here. So me and my dad, we’ve got a great game plan. We’ve been training hard in the gym and staying disciplined. We’re going to have a great performance on Saturday night. I would say 12 rounds or less. You know, I’m prepared for 12 rounds. I prepared for a 12-round disciplined fight. We’re going to mix it up.”
Against Matthysse, Peterson succumbed to the second of three total knockdowns as the fighters traded left hooks — one of Garcia’s best punches. It is with that blow that Garcia dispatched both Morales and Khan.
“We’ll see how he reacts when he gets hit with a good shot, and that will dictate the fight. It’s a big fight. It’s a fight that the fans wanted and it’s a fight that the network wanted, and I’m excited,” said Garcia.
“I’m ready for a great fight. I’m in great shape and I’m on weight right now. Everything is going good right now. I’m not struggling. I had a great camp, so I’m going to go in there on Saturday night and have the fight of my life.”
Angel Garcia has been more emphatic in his assessment of what he expects, having said that Matthysse will represent “the easiest fight of Danny’s career, and that his son will “destroy” the Argentine in “four or five rounds.”
“I’m the most underrated trainer out there. Danny’s the most underrated champ. But we’re still doing our thing. It’s okay, though. There’s no pressure on us. And on Saturday night, he will still be the undefeated champion of the world. If it doesn’t happen, I’ll cut my f___in’ head off,” said Angel Garcia.
“Matthysse fought 32 nobodies. No disrespect to the other fighters. He’s not fighting opponents like he’s fought. He’s fighting the champ of the world, and he’s gonna have his hands full. He thinks he’s going to go in there and hit the champ with a two piece and the champ’s going down? No, he’s in for a long f___in’ night.”
Angel Garcia’s antics succeeded in getting under the skin of fighters such as Morales, Khan and Judah, particularly during press conferences such as the one scheduled today (Thursday) at the MGM Grand, where Danny Garcia anticipates his father’s trash talk to continue with Matthysse.
“My dad is mad right now. He’s mad at the media right now, so you all had better watch out. That’s just him. If he was quiet, man, I’d like him too. But he’s loud and I like him. That’s just the way it is and that’s just the way that it’s played out to be. We never sat at home and was like ‘Hey, pop, you’re going to be the loud man and I’m going to be the laid back guy.’ It’s just the way that it’s played out. My job is just to go in there, give a great fight for the fans and win the fight. That’s my job,” said Garcia.
“I’m not really worried about what people think or that they never give me credit or nothing like that. In boxing, it’s all about being ready. It’s all about being mentally ready and physically ready. I’m mentally ready and I’m physically ready and I know I’m the champion going into this fight. I don’t have to do nothing but be myself in this fight. I don’t have to do nothing but go in there and do the things that I’ve been doing, so I’m going to go in there and be me. The training’s done, and I have no pressure on me. I’m going to show the world who the better fighter is. I’m a different kind of animal, and he’s never fought nobody like me before. We’ll see how he reacts when I hit him back.”
Photo by Gene Blevins, Hogan Photos, Golden Boy Promotions
Lem Satterfield can be reached at email@example.com