Michael Rosenthal

Garcia leaves his doubters with no ammunition

LAS VEGAS – Danny Garcia will never be underestimated again.

The Philadelphia fighter has been the underdog in several of his biggest fights, including his matchup with Lucas Matthysse on the Floyd Mayweather Jr.-Canelo Alvarez undercard at the MGM Grand.

And every time he has found a way to win, as he did on Saturday. Danny Garcia is very simply a winner.

He got it done not with his power but with his guile against Matthysse, who was perceived to be the better boxer going into the fight. Garcia fought a smart fight, landing crisp, hard combinations when he had openings while avoiding Matthysse’s vaunted power shots with obviously underrated defensive skills.

Everyone knew that Garcia was a capable boxer, just not THIS capable.

And, of course, Matthysse’s swollen right eye worked in Garcia’s favor. The Argentine was leading on two of the three cards when, in the sixth round, his eye suddenly closed to a point where he had difficulty seeing.

That’s when Garcia calmly and methodically took charge, landing those combinations – including lefts that Matthysse couldn’t see – with more frequency to claim the victory. That includes a knockdown in the 11th round, which seemed to put a punctuation mark on his victory.

Matthysse, essentially fighting with one eye for half the fight, deserves credit for his courage and determination. He continued to take the fight to Garcia in spite of his handicap. He just couldn’t do enough to beat a fighter of Garcia’s ability.

The scores were 115-111, 114-112 and 114-112, all for Garcia, who retained his RING, WBC and WBA 140-pound titles and proved beyond doubt that he is among the best fighters in the world.

Bernard Hopkins, who knows a star when he sees one, called Garcia’s performance a “masterpiece.”

“I don’t care what people say about me,” said Garcia (27-0, 16 KOs). “My dad believes in me. I believe in myself. I believe no one can beat me.”

Anyone who still isn’t a believer, consider this: Garcia has beaten in succession Erik Morales, Amir Khan, Morales again, Zab Judah and now Matthysse (34-3, 32 knockouts). That’s one of the most-impressive series of victories in recent memory.

The next opponent might prove to be particularly challenging, however: With the victory on Saturday, he is considered a frontrunner to face Mayweather – an easy winner over Alvarez – in his next fight, probably in May.

Again, Garcia is good. Very good. He just might not be good enough to compete with the best fighter in the world, particularly because Mayweather is the naturally bigger man.

Garcia was asked at a packed post-fight press conference how he might fare against the pound-for-pound king if that fight were to happen. Typically soft spoken, he refused boast even after what might be called his signature victory.

“I really don’t know,” he said. “At the end of the day, I’m just a fighter who comes to fight. … I come to give the fans what they want. If (promoter) Golden Boy Promotions and (manager) Al Haymon want to do it, I’ll do it. It is what it is.”

Not even Angel Garcia, the fighter’s talkative father, would make any crazy predictions.

“If that were to happen, I’d call it the holy war,” he said, “because these are two gifted fighters, spiritual fighters who God put on the planet to fight. Floyd is blessed, Danny is blessed.”

Mayweather would be a heavy favorite against Garcia, as he would be against anyone anywhere near his weight class. However, in light of Garcia’s run, we might say two things: One, he has earned the right to fight Mayweather for a career-high payday. And, two, we couldn’t count him out completely.

He has proven his doubters wrong too many times.

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