Born to the Sport and At the Crossroads – Danny Garcia versus Lamont Peterson
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Born to the Sport and At the Crossroads – Danny Garcia versus Lamont Peterson
By Alan Cerf, Doghouse Boxing (March 19, 2015)

Danny Garcia - Lamont Peterson
Image by icheehuahua, Doghouse Boxing Inc.
Danny Garcia and Lamont Peterson may not be “born boxers" if such a thing exists, but they are definitely in the Next Best Thing category: Garcia was taken to the gym by his former boxer-Father, Angel, at age 10, while Peterson was abandoned at that age by his parents and turned to boxing as a way out of a horrible life.

Their anticipated match-up on FREE, yes free, broadcast TV on April 11, has long been anticipated. While winning in boxing is always more important than in every other sport, in this decade boxers enjoy more chances to rebound from defeat. The ludicrous machinations of the Current State of Boxing allow second chances unavailable to fighters of the past: Emeritus champions, Interim champions, ‘sorta champions (I pun) not to mention PEDs, extraordinarily questionable decisions and in many cases, the best fighters simply not fighting the best. Still – Garcia/Peterson is absolutely a crossroads fight for the pair because prior matches have conspired to put asterisks next to their names: Garcia, the proud, unified champion, to most eyes lost badly to Mexican Mauricio Herrera.

Sporting a battered face and a scary, blank look after being awarded the win, Garcia acted, bluntly put, like someone who knew his opponent had been jobbed. The ‘jobbery’ took place in Puerto Rico, the fight held there to celebrate Garcia’s stated affection for The Island (he is of Puerto Rican decent). Peterson likewise, received a completely undeserved decision in his D.C. hometown against Amir Khan – but Khan soon had his championship reinstated when Peterson tested positive for and admitted to having implanted, a “synthetic hormone for medically valid reasons” prior to the Khan bout. That said, while a loss for Peterson would be a huge setback, Garcia, as unified champ, has far more to lose.

Lamont Peterson and brother, Anthony, have a back story that Hollywood would be hard-pressed to best. Living with/without parents who abandoned and then reunited with the boys, repeatedly, both rose from a life that featured intervals lived in cars, shelters and bus stops. Their father figure, according to Lamont, was Barry Hunter, the coach that discovered and guided the brothers to amateur and then professional success. Coach Hunter polished Lamont’s excellent fundamentals and well-above-averages skills: He moves well, punches well with both hands – his jab is superb and has outstanding stamina. If he was a football player he’d be a wide receiver – but as we boxing fans know – no one in the NFL could hack boxing! In interviews he comes across as polite and intelligent- even as he seethes with anger when considering his God-awful early years. Who wouldn’t?

Yet against his and Garcia’s common opponent, Lucas Matthysse, Peterson inexplicably lost focus early in the second round and never regained it. Credit of course to Matthysse, who concussively ended Lamont’s night in the third round. In another fight against a tremendous talent, Timothy Bradley, Peterson found himself in against a similar, athletic boxer-puncher. Unfortunately, Bradley hit harder, was a superior boxer, and probably as quick. The scores were too wide, but Peterson clearly won. Then, against the monstrously gifted, if chinny Amir Khan, Peterson certainly fought well but at least to these eyes, in no way deserved the win.

Now 31, Peterson, I would guess, views boxing as something at which he is highly skilled. But I believe he sees it as a business – and he’s absolutely right. No mistake, if he had greater power he would have gone farther at what the British call “World Level.” And no mistake – if fate – which Peterson feels rules all our affairs, graces him with an All-Time outing, he could beat anyone in the division – on a perfect night.

I was skeptical of Garcia and probably unfairly, remain skeptical. I thought he was a pretty ordinary fighter with extraordinary connections but an inventory of the scalps he’s claimed proves otherwise: Khan, Matthysse, Kendall Holt, Morales, Judah and more. Furthermore, he’s unified the belts and that’s what matters, not what I, or anyone, thinks.

What’s not to like, then? His loud-mouth Father Angel for one, who, fair enough, doesn't mean everything he says and in popping off, attracts fans to his son’s fights. Angel Garcia doesn't count – even if some say he can take Danny no further and the son seek a more accomplished trainer. My other big gripe is that Danny seems to have taken a page from the Felix Trinidad school of cheap shots, most obviously on display versus Matthysse. Danny used all means fair and foul – and there was a lot of the latter, to give himself an advantage that a stricter official may not have allowed.

In particular I was dubious of Danny’s toolset and doubted his moniker ‘Swift,’ but truly his hand-speed is above average, his defense about the same and he moves well and punches hard, rendering opponents and skeptics like me, mute. Amir Khan in particular perhaps goaded by Father Angel’s outrageous comments … in the midst of a match he commanded, found himself careless- and subsequently on his ass. Khan arose but referee Kenny Bayless soon stopped the fight. Danny’s head movement is not good and even when he does move it, there’s a curious thing: he’s particularly susceptible to punches straight up the middle and the headshots he takes seem to energize him and enable his counter-punching. A strange way to go about his business but it works and this brings us to Garcia’s biggest attributes, his heart and his chin.

Garcia hung in there against Khan who rattled him early and often and then knocked him out. He took some of Matthysse’s bigger shots and went on to an undoubted, if close win (I thought it was closer still). All of which bring us to the fiasco on The Island against Mauricio Herrera. In what was supposed to be a home-coming, Danny’s head movement was non-existent and the skilled Herrera – not exactly a huge puncher, made Danny’s face a mask of vivid purple and red bruises.

At no time after the fight did Garcia act like a guy who believed he had won – or even like a guy who thought he’d lost a close one. The fight wasn't close, Herrera controlled things throughout – but the better connected Garcia got a majority decision.

I have a feeling that Peterson is reaching the end of the line, while Garcia, a proud and unified champion, is very determined to hang on to his belts. Peterson in the midst of his prime has already had to accept less than forty thousand for a fight – an absolute disgrace which the former homeless kid to his immense credit, accepted as being yet another of life’s curveballs. If he really wants to right his career and avoid the dreaded role of Gate-Keeper, Peterson must have a Career Night, period. Here’s hoping both fighters have career nights as championship boxing returns to broadcast TV after all these years.

Prediction: Garcia by clear unanimous decision.

Garcia versus Peterson, April 11 on NBC.


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