SAN DIEGO, July 31, 2015 – Danny “Swift” Garcia managed to maintain his undefeated record to this point courtesy of several recent judges’ decisions that appeared to be gifts.
In April, Garcia won a narrow split decision over Lamont Peterson. It wasn’t enough to wash the bad taste away from his ridiculous beatdown of an unequipped Rod Salka, much less the travesty of his so-called win over the clearly superior Mauricio Herrera in his hyped Puerto Rico homecoming. No no, you couldn’t mess up the carefully crafted script there.
Saturday, Garcia (30-0, 17 KOs) of Philadelphia steps back in the ring at the Barclays Center against native son Paulie Malignaggi of Brooklyn (33-6-0, 7 KOs). Malignaggi returns to the ring after a 16-month layoff following a fourth round TKO loss to Shawn Porter.
Malignaggi has been kept plenty busy outside the ring with his broadcasting career as the lead analyst for Showtime and numerous other gigs, including Sky Sports in Great Britain. Malignaggi has become an exceptionally skilled commentator, to the surprise of many people who wondered whether he could overcome his reputation as a loud-mouthed, profane trash talker willing to go nearly anywhere with his remarks. He breaks down boxing in an accessible, interesting way for fans. He has a rapport with the fighters, who respect him for getting in the ring himself.
So why would Malignaggi get back in the ring? The former junior welterweight and welterweight belt holder says the craving to get in the ring is still there. He admits it’s a make-or-break fight for him, a must-win situation if he expects his boxing career to continue. Malignaggi feels he can still compete at the highest level of the sport and it’s hard to walk away if you still feel you’ve got it.
Garcia is moving up in weight class to fight at welterweight for the first time. He was more than ready for the move up after eight years of competing at 140 pounds. The question everyone wants to see answered is whether Garcia’s power and speed make the transition with him. He will test himself against Malignaggi.
Observers are intrigued by this equation, but make no mistake, this isn’t likely to be a pretty fight. Malignaggi’s best chance to make inroads against Garcia is to fight a little rough, a little dirty and just wild enough to throw Garcia off. Malignaggi isn’t a knockout artist, so he will need to win enough rounds from the judges to prevail.
Garcia needs to keep Malignaggi at a distance, putting a good jab to work and wearing Maliganaggi down. Garcia may win on the scorecards, but he needs a victory in the eyes of the fans more than he does the judges. His recent performances have created so much dissension and disagreement about his results. Garcia cannot afford any questions about the fairness of the results this time.
On the undercard, middleweight Daniel Jacobs faces Sergio Mora, a former junior middleweight title holder and the winner of “The Contender” made for TV competition. Jacobs (29-1, 26 KOs), 28, is very easy to root for. He is a cancer survivor who defied the odds to continue his boxing career when no one thought he could do it. He’s a knockout artist and a media-friendly crowd-pleaser. Mora (28-3-2, 9 KOs), 34, of Los Angeles, is a wily veteran who wins with defensive skills and experience against tough competition. Jacobs hasn’t face the same level of fighter as Mora, but his power and youth should prevail.
Despite there being clear favorites Saturday, you never know and that’s why these guys get in the ring. All fighters made weight with ease. Malignaggi posted on Twitter, “40 pro fights made it 40 times like a pro. And now ready to box like a pro & shock the world.”
Premier Boxing Champions on ESPN airs at 9 p.m. Saturday from the Barclays Center in Brooklyn.
Gayle Lynn Falkenthal, APR, is president/owner of the Falcon Valley Group in San Diego, Calif. She is also a serious boxing fan covering the Sweet Science for Communities. Read more Ringside Seat in Communities Digital News. Follow Gayle on Facebook and on Twitter @PRProSanDiego. Gayle can be reached via Google +
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