Unbeaten Philly Pugilist Emerging as Barclays’ Top House Fighter
By John Torenli, Sports Editor
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Though he hails from the rugged streets of North Philadelphia and is of Puerto Rican descent, Danny “Swift” Garcia has established himself as one of boxing’s biggest stars right here in Downtown Brooklyn.
The as-yet-unbeaten 26-year-old junior welterweight champion drove that point home yet again Saturday night in front of just over 7,000 fans at the Barclays Center.
He scored a devastating second-round knockout of overmatched Rod Salka to improve his career record to 29-0, including a perfect 3-for-3 as a headliner on the corners of Atlantic and Flatbush avenues.
"I came here to purge,” Garcia crowed after Salka joined Brooklyn’s-own Zab Judah and Mexican boxing legend Erik Morales on the list of fighters he has defeated in our fair borough since opening the arena with a fourth-round knockout of Morales on Oct. 20, 2012.
“I told everybody tonight was going to be the 'Danny Garcia Show.' No matter who I fought tonight, they were going to get beat. I was going to purge. I was out to kill.”
Garcia, who had gone the distance in each of his previous three title bouts, including a unanimous decision triumph over Judah here on April 27, 2013, sent a loud and clear message to all those unwilling to pronounce him one of the best pound-for-pound fighters in the world.
“When I am at my best I can beat anybody and I already proved that,” he noted after knocking Salka down twice before pulverizing him for good with a vicious left hook that ended the bout with just 29 seconds remaining in the second round.
The win moved Garcia to within one victory of a coveted 30-0 mark, a feat he can achieve later this year when he is likely to meet IBF Junior Welterweight champ Lamont Peterson, who improved to 33-2-1 with a 10th-round TKO of Edgar Santana in Saturday night’s co-feature bout.
“If he wants it. I'll give it to him,” Garcia said of a potential showdown with Peterson, which could mark the reigning WBC, WBA and The Ring titleholder’s fourth bout in Brooklyn.
“I show up fight night and sometimes I have good nights or bad nights, but I always find a way to win,” he added.
Though local favorites like Paulie Malignaggi, Danny Jacobs and Judah have drawn big crowds to Barclays, and ring legend Bernard Hopkins became the oldest champion in boxing history here last year, Garcia is emerging as the state-of-the-art arena’s house fighter.
"He's not going to get a lot of credit because of the opponent,” Malignaggi, a ringside analyst for SHOWTIME, noted in the aftermath of Garcia’s latest win.
“But for those that really know boxing, you can see that Danny Garcia was very sharp tonight. Punching well, moving and defending very well. He looked sharp and would have given anyone a tough time tonight."
And Garcia isn’t likely to fight just “anyone” anymore.
Though Peterson is next on the list, there have been murmurs for more than a year now that Garcia could draw the biggest star in the sport, Floyd Mayweather, on a future card.
If Garcia does reach a fight, and payday, of that magnitude in the next two years, he will have climbed to that level at least partially on the strength of his three impressive wins right here in Brooklyn.
Maybe he can even convince Mayweather to take him on right here in his home away from home.
Ring Notes: Brooklyn native Jacobs (28-1, 25 KOs) scored a fifth-round knockout over Australian Jarrod Fletcher in a SHOWTIME-televised bout Saturday, earning the WBA Middleweight title only three years after overcoming a life-threatening form of bone cancer. The self-proclaimed “Miracle Man” thanked his son for the inspiration that not only got him back in the ring, but made him a world champion. "My son, my baby boy, was my first priority,” Jacobs said. “But getting back into the ring was my second motivation. Boxing taught me to have the mental strength to overcome anything. And that's what I did. “My advice [to others fighting cancer] is to be strong. But even if you can't beat it, be happy. Be grateful that we even have this life.” … Another local fighter, Sadam Ali (20-0) remained unbeaten with a split-decision win over Jeremy Bryan on the undercard, retaining his WBO Intercontinental welterweight crown. "I knew it wouldn't be easy. I never underestimated him,” Ali insisted after what many viewed as a lackluster effort. “I just wanted to feel strong in the ring. My legs were kind of not there, but I was good mentally. I just have to work around it. I just didn't feel myself. This all falls back on my performance. I just happened to get the decision and I'm ready to go back to the gym and work on a few things. Whatever Golden Boy has planned for me is what I'm going to do. [The fans are] my motivation. That's what gives me the power. I just want to perform better next time. You'll see a better Sadam Ali."