Danny Garcia: Sometimes the world doesn’t make sense. Garcia defeats, in succession, Nate Campbell, Kendall Holt, Erik Morales, Amir Khan, Morales again, Zab Judah and Lucas Matthysse. And then he struggles mightily against the relatively obscure Mauricio Herrera in what was supposed to be a showcase for Garcia on Saturday in his ancestors’ homeland of Puerto Rico. That isn’t an indictment of Herrera, who obviously was a worthy challenger. We had simply become accustomed to strong performances against big-name opponents by Garcia. This was anything but a strong performance. Herrera’s awkward style and sneaky jab, as well as a good chin, seemed to confuse Garcia (28-0, 16 knockouts) and he was never able to adjust. The RING champ won a majority decision – 116-112, 116-112 and 114-114 – in part because he landed the harder punches but it wasn’t convincing. He left the ring with his perfect record intact but took one on the chin in the realm of public opinion. Perhaps he had to make the 140-pound limit one too many times, which took something out of him. Or maybe he put too much pressure on himself to win in spectacular fashion in front of the Puerto Ricans. The only thing we know is he was lucky to avoid a major disaster.
Mauricio Herrera: Of course, the victory could’ve been enormous for the 33-year-old from Southern California. He could’ve – should’ve? – walked away with the RING, WBC and WBA 140-pound titles and the riches that go with them. He didn’t leave empty handed, though. We saw what we saw: a terrific, spirited performance by a very good, confident boxer who deserves more opportunities to make it big in a junior welterweight division that isn’t quite as deep as it was a few years ago. Herrera (20-4, 7 KOs) has fought on a good-sized stage before, having outpointed Ruslan Provodnikov and Mike Dallas while losing competitive decisions to Mike Alvarado and Karim Mayfield, but he had never been in a spotlight as bright as Saturday night on Showtime. He obviously belonged. He came in with a good game plan, executed it with the skill and composure of a seasoned veteran and might’ve been rewarded in a different setting. He lost the fight but won believers among those who ultimately pay his salary, the fans. Herrera is 33, which means he probably doesn’t have a long shelf life. However, he clearly has plenty more to give. And if he gives it to other opponents as he gave it to Garcia, one day he will be rewarded handsomely.
MOST AWESOME PUNCHES
Deontay Wilder and Juan Manuel Lopez: Malik Scott (36-2-1, 13 KOs) was supposed to be a step up in competition for Wilder, a good, experienced boxer who could give almost any opponent trouble. He lasted only 96 seconds on the Garcia-Herrera card, the victim of a debilitating left to the temple and a straight right from which he couldn’t recover. For Wilder: 31 fights, 31 knockouts. The only drawback was that he had no time to glean valuable lessons from the fight. That could be important if he faces the winner of the May 10 Bermane Stiverne-Chris Arreola fight for the vacant WBC heavyweight title. Will he be ready? We’ll see. The only thing we know without a doubt is that the power is there. Lopez (34-3, 31 KOs) found the right opponent to pump life into his comatose career. The Puerto Rican favorite was dismissed by many as a has-been after he was knocked out in three of his past six fights, including a fourth-round stoppage against Mikey Garcia in his last fight. Enter Daniel Ponce de Leon, the same fighter Lopez stopped in the first round back in 2008. On Saturday, Lopez went down in the second round but 30 seconds later landed a crushing right hook from which Ponce de Leon (45-6, 35 KOs) couldn’t recover. He went down a second time and then was taking a beating against the ropes, prompting the ref to stop the fight. I wouldn’t expect too much out of Lopez going forward, but he lived to fight another day.
I’ve always been a fan of Tomasz Adamek, the rugged Pole who is ready to fight whenever he steps into the ring. And he very often put on great shows. However, he’s 37 now and seems to be near the end of his career. He couldn’t keep up with Vyacheslav Glazkov (17-0-1, 11 KOs) on Saturday in Bethlehem, Pa., losing a one-sided unanimous decision. Adamek (49-3, 29 KOs) won world titles at light heavyweight and cruiserweight, and also was a good heavyweight. He’ll be remembered as one of the better fighters of his generation. Meanwhile, Glazkov, 29, took a nice step in his career. A title fight could be in his near future. … Light heavyweight contender Isaac Chilemba (22-2-2, 9 KOs) looked very sharp in a near-shutout decision over the capable Denis Grachev (13-3-1, 8 KOs) on the Glazkov-Adamek card. … Tony Bellew (21-2-1, 13 KOs) of the U.K. also had a big Saturday. He stopped Valery Brudov (41-5, 28 KOs) in the 12th round in his cruiserweight debut – although he had to survive a few harrowing moments himself – in Liverpool, England. Bellew drew and beat Chilemba last year.