Danny Garcia: Return of the Eye?
“I lost a lot of sleep. I couldn’t even watch sports for a while.” As Danny Garcia, 33-1 (19), sits on a stool surrounded by media in his private gym, in North Philadelphia, a Zen-like calm radiates from the two division, three-time world champion. A rejuvenated Garcia is back in his element (the gym) training for a fight for the first time in about a year, since his first professional loss last March to WBA/WBC welterweight titlist Keith Thurman. At this point, that event – pre-fight, the actual fight and post-fight – have been covered ad nauseam. So just where exactly was Team DSG a week prior to returning to the ring? Well, if you take the words of the fighter as truth, “We are ready to fight and prove I’m still a superstar in the sport. I spent a lot of time with my family, just restin’, man, being a regular person for a few months.
“I’m gonna bang; I’m gonna box,” states Garcia in response to how he is approaching his comeback fight against Brandon Rios, 34-3-1 (25). Again, if you believe Garcia, it seems that the “Eye of the Tiger” has returned. Some reports around the gyms in Philadelphia and in boxing circles, after the Thurman loss, stated Garcia may no longer have had that same “me against the world” mentality, that maybe his lavish lifestyle and success somehow got in the way of his hunger to prove that he was once an overlooked talent. The attitude that once helped propel Garcia to his current status as one of the best in his division. Call it the “Rocky III” impact, if you will.
Regardless of what you call it, one thing is certain: While Danny Garcia took time to enjoy the fruits of his labor, over the course of last year, since last March’s results last March, he has entered this training camp with a new sense of calm and rededication toward proving his value as an elite fighter.
His trainer and father Angel Garcia is still spitting venom and speaking his version of the truth about the sport of boxing. “They did a lot of fucked up things. Y’all didn’t see what went on behind the scenes,” cracks Angel. “They got what they wanted. They gave (Thurman) the W. It’s over now but I’m still gonna be…I’m still gonna talk.”
Angel echoed his son’s sentiments about losing sleep and needing to get away from the sport, “It’s over, man. I lost enough sleep over it.” While the father/son combination may appear to have moved past last March, it is obviously still a bit of a sore spot and changes the dynamics of the conversation, when rehashed.
Although Danny was able to relax in the Miami sun, with rappers and other A-list celebrities, his gym at the DSG complex was calling him. Despite acting like his critics and their opinions don’t bother him, he brings up some valid points about his resume, over the course of the past seven years, compared to fighters currently making waves in the sport, “I feel like, once a world champion, I’m always going to be a champion.” Say what you will about his career but the proof is there for him to make these types of claims without being considered completely outrageous.
His father states they have never turned down an opponent throughout their career and they don’t plan on doing so anytime soon. The general feeling from Team DSG is that some of the other names in the division need to validate their statuses. That is what separates them from some of the current crop of talent. While others are on the rise or are current top fighters, Team DSG has been around and plans on making the boxing world remember just what they are about.
In order for Team DSG to continue this rhetoric, moving forward, the next phase of Garcia’s budding legacy starts this tonight against Rios. While this fight would have been a fight fan’s dream six or seven years ago, one that would have had the whole sport buzzing and anticipating the opening bell, with sports books having the outcome close to being even (with most likely Rios as the favorite), Rios is viewed as a fighter now past his prime and is considered the right type of match-up for Garcia to jump-start this phase of his career.
Don’t tell this to the Garcias though. “The people that are saying it’s an easy fight have probably never threw a punch in their life. They never been in a street fight. Boxing, bro, I don’t care who you fight; it ain’t easy. (Rios is) the same aggressive fighter. He got that Mexican in him. He’s a Mexican warrior,” says Angel Garcia. Not for nothing but Angel Garcia never once had anything negative about Rios. Is it a sign of a small change in his attitude, post-Thurman, or does he really feel this is indeed a tough challenge?
When asked about anything regarding the future, it’s made simple: Team DSG is willing to fight any of the big names. Indeed they have to not only fight the top of the division (Shawn Porter, Keith Thurman, Terence Crawford, Errol Spence Jr., etc.) but they need to have a large measure of success in those fights. If successful, Team DSG will return to getting pound-for-pound consideration the way Garcia did between 2011-2014.
The time is now for Danny Garcia, 29, who is naturally on the backside of his physical prime and has been in tough fights.
Has the Eye of the Tiger returned for Danny Garcia? Tonight’s performance against, by all accounts, a focused Brandon Rios may forecast what the boxing world should expect from Philadelphia’s first Latino world champion.
It’s interesting that the opening bout in Las Vegas on Showtime will be a battle between “The New” Ray Robinson, 24-2 (12), and Yordenis Ugas, 20-3 (9). For those of you whom are unfamiliar with his career, Robinson is a solid, tall southpaw from Philadelphia, who has been vocal about wanting a shot at the elite in the welterweight division. Robinson is best known for a losing effort early in his career against Shawn Porter. Since then, we all know how both of those fighters’ careers have gone. In particular, Robinson has been calling out his fellow Philadelphian Danny Garcia, over social media, for the past couple of years.
This fight with Ugas will be for the IBF’s No. 2 spot, meaning the fighter who gets his hand raised could be in line for a shot at current titlist Spence in the near future. Robinson is promoted by Lou DiBella, so getting that shot at Premier Boxing Champions fighters shouldn’t be too difficult.
It’s a huge opportunity for Robinson, who is trained by Bozy Ennis at the Dungeon, ironically the same gym Team DSG used to call home before they opened their private gym. Ennis is the father and trainer of welterweight prospect Jaron “Boots” Ennis, who is also poised to make a move in the division in the next year or two.
(Click here to read an interview I did with Ray Robinson, regarding tonight’s fight, and his thoughts on Danny Garcia.)
Just a quick thought: If a Garcia-Robinson fight is to ever be made, one would think PBC would have it in Philadelphia on the campus of Temple University. Wishful thinking probably, since an all-Philadelphia battle would most likely wind up in Brooklyn, New York. Robinson is a perfect example of what Angel Garcia was talking about, regarding fighters on the rise needing to earn their shots at his son. A win over Ugas would go a long way.
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