Boxing: Jarrod Fletcher
August, 10, 2014
By Brian Campbell | ESPN.com
Ed Mulholland/Getty ImagesUnbeaten Danny Garcia made quick work of Rod Salka in a brutal second-round knockout on Saturday.NEW YORK -- After a tripleheader of action at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, here are five things we learned about victories from Danny Garcia, Lamont Peterson and Danny Jacobs on Saturday night.
1. Absolutely nothing
In one of the most one-sided premium cable fight cards on paper in recent history, the favorites dominated in a way that validated the overwhelming negative response from fans the day the fights were announced.
Stay-busy or showcase fights involving big names are fine when packaged with compelling content. But Saturday’s card, headlined by junior welterweight titlists Garcia and Peterson in separate bouts, failed to answer any questions boxing fans had coming in, including the most important one: What's the point of seeing Garcia and Peterson in a pair of noncompetitive fights when they should have been facing each other?
2. Danny Garcia was right
Garcia, the recognized champion at 140 pounds, admitted during fight week he was in a no-win situation against such a heavy underdog in unranked lightweight Rod Salka.
He was right.
Not only did the unheralded Salka enter the ring with just three knockouts in 22 pro fights, he was as a 50-1 underdog for a fight so ill matched that even the much-maligned sanctioning bodies refused to clear it as a title fight. To make matters worse, the fight was Garcia's second straight of the showcase variety; he struggled to a debated majority-decision win over Mauricio Herrera in March.
If Garcia, who took home a purse of $700,000, had looked bad in any way against Salka, his critics would have had a field day. Instead, the opposite took place in the ring. Only the criticism still came immediately after on social media. And it was justified.
Garcia demolished the smaller, light-hitting Salka to the tune of three knockdowns in a second-round knockout win. The final knockdown was the most brutal of all, as Salka trainer Paul Spadafora tried unsuccessfully to get the referee's attention in order to stop the bout just before Garcia followed through on a flush left hook that violently ended the bout.
It's a highlight-reel knockout that exhilarated the crowd of 7,012 and will likely run in sizzle reels previewing Garcia's fights for years to come. But it came against an opponent clearly not fit to face a fighter the class of Garcia, who sits on the outskirts of most pound-for-pound lists. Garcia pounded his chest to the crowd after the fight and provided quotes like, "No matter who I fought tonight, they were going to get beat. I was going to purge. I was out for the kill." But this was a fight that ultimately did nothing for the unbeaten champion, or the sport.
3. Don't hold your breath on a payoff
Even though the card was set up as a possible preview toward a future title unification bout between Garcia and Peterson, a major criticism leading up to Saturday was that it wasn't a matchup that deserved this level of marinating.
Even though Peterson is a titlist and a skilled fighter with a flair for action, he was knocked out in a 2013 nontitle bout against Lucas Matthysse, the man whom Garcia defeated four months later. While getting the payoff of a Garcia-Peterson fight later this year could help ease the lingering discomfort caused by the card, the noncommittal comments from both fighters in the aftermath of their victories was far from reassuring.
Both Peterson, who defended his title by stopping Edgar Santana in Round 10, and Garcia said during fight week they would have preferred facing each other this weekend. But both fighters are at the mercy of the man who holds all of the cards, powerful advisor Al Haymon. And while 2013 was a great year for fans getting a chance to see big-name Haymon fighters in the ring against each other, 2014 hasn't been so kind, making a Garcia-Peterson fight far from a guarantee.
4. Good things do happen to good people
Middleweight Danny Jacobs is simply one of the nicest people in and around the sport of boxing. Coming back so heroically from a 2012 battle with osteosarcoma (a rare form of bone cancer) that nearly killed him, Jacobs' story has become an inspiration to many.
It's hard not to cheer for a guy so humble and passionate, and one you almost never see without a smile on his face. Jacobs, who floored and nearly finished Jarrod Fletcher in the opening round on Saturday, rebounded from a poor start in Round 5 to rally and stop him moments later, becoming the first cancer survivor in boxing history to win a world title.
Appropriately nicknamed "The Miracle Man," Jacobs addressed his hometown fans by saying, "The journey is a long one but I am blessed to have had the opportunity to perform in front of Brooklyn. We did it."
In a sport often overrun by negative headlines, this was a great story. And it couldn't have happened to a more deserving guy.
5. But let's not get too carried away
Jacobs' storybook victory is more than deserving of praise. But the full story, however, does need to be told.
Jacobs is not the middleweight champion of the world, despite what a ring announcer or fight poster might tell you. In fact, he's not even one of the four fully accredited titlists recognized by the major sanctioning bodies. With the WBA's insistence on creating as many as three titles per division, Jacobs captured its vacant "regular" title.
It's a belt not to be confused with the real WBA title owned by unbeaten Gennady Golovkin, or the WBA interim belt held by Dmitry Chudinov. Sound confused? You should be. The premise behind it is absurd. And even though Jacobs appears to have a bright future, which could include a showdown with unbeaten WBO titlist Peter Quillin, whom Jacobs called out after Saturday's victory, his new "world title" is merely a secondary one for now.