Even though the sporting world will be focused squarely on Floyd Mayweather and Saul “Canelo” Alvarez’s September 14 showdown, there is a tantalizing dish on the main card that is threatening to steal the show. The 140-pound showdown between Danny Garcia and Lucas Matthysse has even the most skeptical boxing fan drooling thanks to its promise to deliver perhaps the most beautifully brilliant display of violence. The unbeaten Garcia (26-0, 16 KOs) and his pulverizing left hook taking on Matthysse (34-2, 32 KOs) with his paralyzing power is a recipe for disaster in its most artful form. And the reward isn’t simply the WBC, WBA (Super) and The Ring light welterweight titles, what is likely at stake is the golden ticket to face Floyd Mayweather next.
With so much pressure, it is a wonder that the Philadelphia born and raised Danny Garcia is taking a phone interview just over a week before the fight. Most fighters focus on getting that last bit of training in before the media blitz of fight week saps any energy they have left to discuss the fight. But Garcia is calm, cool and collected. A supposed underdog, the Puerto Rican is out to prove the naysayers wrong.
“It wasn’t supposed to be my time right now,” Garcia says. Despite victories over Erik Morales, Amir Khan and Zab Judah, there are those that are still skeptical of whether Garcia has the goods to be one of the best pound for pound fighters on the planet. “I wasn’t supposed to win those fights but now that I have won the critics don’t want to give me the credit I deserve. But after I beat Matthysse, they can’t say nothing.”
The uncertainty stems from Matthysse’s debilitating power. Although he has lost two highly controversial decisions to Zab Judah and Devon Alexander, the Argentinean has a nasty habit of making sure his opponents taste the canvas at least once during the fight. Of his 34 wins, 32 have come by way of knockout. Garcia, himself, saw firsthand just how devastating his punching power is as he had a ringside seat for Matthysse’s demolition over Lamont Peterson. But Garcia dismisses any notion that he was in awe of his opponent’s power.
“He was a #1 contender so I knew it was only a matter of time until we got into the ring,” he says when asked if he figured that a fight with Matthysse was likely after the Peterson knockout. ” He’s a strong fighter. He hits hard but I hit hard too. You’re going to have to earn it against me.”
Interestingly enough, many people thought Garcia may have been looking to avoid a showdown with Matthysse. His relative silence on the issue allowed concern that he was unwilling to fight seep into the pores of the fans. But for Garcia, negotiations were being made quietly behind the scenes. With the opportunity to fight Matthysse on the undercard of easily the biggest fight of the year, Garcia and his team had to negotiate properly to ensure the payoff was well worth the risk.
“At the end of the day this is a business,” Garcia says as he shrugs off the idea that he may have been scared. “What people need to understand that if it’s a big fight, the fighters need to be paid big money. You don’t fight just for the glory, it’s a business.” For the most part, Garcia prefers his hands to do the talking. All of the noise comes courtesy of his father and trainer, Angel. Never one to be quiet, the elder Garcia hasn’t restrained his verbal jabs at his son’s opponent. Calling Matthysse a “little bum,” saying that he will have “stage fright” and suggesting that this will be the “easiest fight” for his son has done nothing more than fan the flames. But Danny doesn’t concern himself much with his father’s sound bites.
“There’s no pressure on me despite what my dad says,” Garcia laughs, well aware that his father does come off a bit disrespectful and abrasive. “I know what I have to do. Whatever my dad says, that’s what he really believes.”
All Garcia has to do is make his father’s wishes come to fruition on September 14. With a possible showdown with Mayweather looming, Garcia opts to not allow anything to alter his mindset. Right now, it’s all about Matthysse. “I don’t think about Mayweather because I have a tough opponent ahead of me and I don’t look past who is in front of me. I take it one fight at a time. My focus is on Lucas and I have to get that job done first.”
And despite all that is at stake, Garcia says there is one thing that separates him from his opponent. And that is the will to win. ”I know how to win. I’ve won all of my fights. I always find a way to win and on September 14 I’m going to do it again.”