- Michael Woods, Boxing
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Skills do indeed pay the bills, as they say, but KOs such as the one above put butts in seats and earn fighters more opportunities to shine on bigger stages.
Frank Galarza (13-0-2 with 9 KOs), the Red Hook, Brooklyn, native dubbed "The Brooklyn Rocky" by local sportscaster Bruce Beck, came out in the second round of his second-to-last fight, against John Thompson, and came at his foe with a nasty intent.
Bing-bang-boom, down went Thompson, and up went Galarza's visibility in the sport.
It often works like that, right or wrong. Many fans do indeed appreciate the sweet science, look up to those pugilist-specialists who work with a "hit and don't get hit" MO ... but let's face it, highlight-reel knockouts go a long way in boosting a young prospect into that contender class, which is what the 28-year-old junior middleweight Galarza craves.
The Thompson win was seen by viewers of the ShoBox series on Jan. 17, and he followed up with a KO2 win over Franklin Gonzalez on April 5. Galarza gets another shot to keep the buzz going as he meets 8-0 Canadian Sebastien Bouchard at Foxwoods in Connecticut on Friday night, once again on ShoBox.
Analyst Steve Farhood will work the fight, so I asked him for an assessment of the clash, which features a fighter who has had to travel a long way to get here -- Galarza's dad died from a gunshot wound complication when he was 7, and his mother died of an overdose just two years later.
"Galarza is nicknamed 'The Brooklyn Rocky,' and I think that's appropriate because there are name fighters from Brooklyn, like Louie Collazo, Daniel Jacobs, and Curtis Stevens, and he was never one of them," Farhood said. "Also, he was a big underdog in his breakthrough fight on ShoBox vs. 14-0 John Thompson, and he won in Rocky style. Galarza had minimal amateur experience, and that's a lot to overcome. But he's rangy, has good power, and seems to be on the improve as a boxer.
"In Sebastien Bouchard, he's fighting a short pressure fighter who lacks a big punch. It seems a good style matchup for Galarza. Bouchard isn't proven yet; he's been scheduled for only six rounds to date. I look for Galarza to keep his momentum. Against the exceptionally tall Thompson, he needed a way to get close. Against Bouchard, he'll want to keep an arm's length away. We'll see if he can adjust.
"In terms of his development, this is a big fight for Galarza. Fighting on ShoBox gives him the opportunity to grow and advance, and to do so on a national stage. For a fighter who didn't have much buzz before his initial ShoBox appearance, the exposure is invaluable."
Galarza certainly sounds ready. "Just be ready for a show -- the same thing as last time," he said. "I come to fight, I don't come to play games."
To help insure that atmosphere is electric in Foxwoods, Galarza's manager, A.J. Galante, rented a bus to take fans for free from Brooklyn to Connecticut, so the joint should be rockin' to see BK Rocky, and see if he can offer up another stellar stoppage.