By Alex Beard (@alex_beard17)
WBC welterweight champion Danny ‘Swift’ Garcia has signed up for yet another underwhelming fight – this time against Samuel Vargas on November 12 in a non-title fight.
The fact that this is not a championship contest speaks volumes about the low-risk approach that Garcia (32-0-KO18) has employed in recent years. Having produced career-best performances against Amir Khan – whom he knocked out in a light-welterweight unification fight – and Lucas Matthysse, the Philadelphian has gone backwards in the eyes of many fans.
Garcia was fortunate to earn a majority decision victory over the unheralded Mauricio Herrera (22-6-KO7) in 2014, with Showtime commentators Al Bernstein, Paulie Malignaggi and Steve Farhood all scoring the fight in favour of Herrera. Garcia followed that up with a bizarre mismatch against primarily super-featherweight and lightweight journeyman Rod Salka (23-4-KO4). Salka was brutally knocked out in two.
After another disputed decision victory, this time over Lamont Peterson, Garcia made his long-awaited move up to welterweight in August 2015. Waiting for him was the aforementioned Malignaggi (36-7-KO7), who a year before had been smashed into seeming-retirement by then-IBF welterweight champ Shawn Porter. What followed was the expected TKO win over a faded veteran.
Garcia claimed the vacant WBC welterweight title in January of this year with a trickier-than-expected win over, yes you guessed it, another faded veteran – Robert Guerrero (33-5-1-KO18). Garcia has not fought since which has led us to his decision to face Vargas (25-2-1-KO13) in a 10-round contest. Vargas has a grand total of zero notable wins and was stopped by Errol Spence Jr. last year.
For Garcia this is another baffling opponent choice, one that leads us to wonder who’s pulling the strings here. Garcia has shown that he’s not afraid to mix it with good fighters, but lately he or his management team appear reluctant to risk his 0 against top-quality opposition.
Fair enough, this fight is anticipated to be a tune-up ahead of a 2017 unification bout with fellow undefeated fighter and WBA welterweight holder Keith ‘One Time’ Thurman (27-0-KO22). But couldn’t Garcia’s team have at least found someone who’s ranked by the WBC, and get a first defence under his belt? Also, if you’re actively trying to tune-up your fighter then at least give him someone who may test him even a tiny bit. The jump from Vargas to Thurman is an astronomical one.
What does Garcia gain from this fight? Another tick in the win column, but little else. This contest will likely keep his money-fight with Thurman on the table, but it also yet again reduces Garcia’s credibility in the eyes of boxing fans. Garcia is an incredibly gifted fighter, his record shows that, but he’s going nowhere good with these gimme fights.
Clearly it’s all about risk and reward with Garcia. We’ve seen that if the reward is big enough, he’ll risk his undefeated record. But if not, he’ll take the easiest fight he can and cash his cheque. It’s a sad indictment of the sport that this sort of thing isn’t even a surprise anymore.
Like any boxing fan I want to see the best fight the best. The numerous world title belts have diluted the value of those titles, and promoters steering their fighters’ into easy match-ups to protect their record or financial value to said promoters is ruining the sport for a lot of people. Sadly, Garcia is set to continue on this road and it’s one that’s doing him more harm than good.by