It’s not clear if Mauricio
Herrera had any arroz con pollo or arroz con gandules y lechon asado during his
stay in Puerto Rico this past week. However, he certainly got a dose of home-cooking
that left his stomach queasy as Herrera was on the short end of a highly
debatable majority decision that saw Danny Garcia retain his WBA and WBC
140-pound titles. The overwhelming majority who witnessed this Showtime main
event from Bayamon believed Herrera deserved the nod.
No, it wasn't the worst “robbery”
(if you care to use that phrase) ever. This pales in comparison to the rancid
verdicts of the past such as Pernell Whitaker-Jose Luis Ramirez or Jose Armando
Santa Cruz-Joel Casamayor. But certainly, the scorecards rendered by Alejandro
Rochin and Carlos Colon, who somehow both gave eight rounds to Garcia, leave a
bad taste in the mouth of boxing fans (the third judge, Gustavo Padilla had the
fight dead even at 114-114).
You can perhaps call this
one more in a long line of “business decisions” in boxing history. After all,
it was Garcia making his homecoming (to the island where he has actually never
lived and whose level of bilingualism would have him failing Spanish 101). He
was the guy with the big money influence behind him in Golden Boy Promotions,
Al Haymon and Showtime - all three which have a vested interest in the Philadelphia
The reality is Herrera,
short of knocking Garcia out, simply wasn't going back to Riverside with the
Here are some other random
thoughts on Garcia-Herrera:
- I thought Herrera showed
once again that a simple, fundamental jab used correctly can neutralize a more
physically gifted fighter. Herrera was consistent and pesky with this weapon
and it allowed him to consistently beat Garcia to the punch and keep him out of
rhythm offensively. But it was just one of many small things collectively
instrumental to his effort on this night.
Every time Herrera got
inside, he smothered Garcia and didn't give him any breathing room to land his best
punch (the left hook). After awhile, Garcia was more than willing to just
clinch right along with him. Also, Herrera's stance was very Bernard
Hopkins-esque; he never allowed his shoulders to be parallel to Garcia and he
did a nice job of tucking in his chin. Herrera was also much disciplined in
making sure his right hand was near his cheek, so he could parry or deflect any
oncoming “Swift” hooks that came his way. All this made him a very elusive
target for an increasingly frustrated Garcia.
- Garcia is now 25 years old
and has been a 140-pounder since the beginning of his career in 2007. On
Saturday night, he looked very flat and listless physically with no real
vitality or snap. Not to take anything away from Herrera’s fine effort but
Garcia had all the symptoms of a fighter who needs to move up in weight. Most
fighters by this stage have already moved up a weight class or two as their
bodies and metabolism mature. It was actually a bit stunning to see him back up
through much of the fight against a fighter not particularly known for his
physical strength. There was actually talk of Garcia moving up to welterweight
after his victory over Lucas Matthysse last September.
Perhaps now is really
the time to do so.
- Years ago, a frustrated
Brian Billick, then the head coach of the Baltimore Ravens, said of the instant
replay system in the NFL (after a call went against his team), “They should just
blow the whole damn thing up.” Well, regarding open scoring in boxing, they
should do just that. The bottom line is, while it sounds good in theory,
honestly, it ruins the drama of fights. There are simply too many instances in
which this has taken place but in all honestly, with Garcia-Herrera, it was a
foreshadowing of what was to come: a questionable verdict.
After four rounds, two judges
had Garcia winning 40-36 and 39-37 and one judge had it deadlocked at 38 apiece.
It was at this point when you knew perhaps any type of decision simply wasn't
in the cards for Herrera. All in all, whether you do open scorecards or not, you
need better judges who won’t be influenced by home crowds, house fighters or
any other influences that have corrupted the process throughout the years.
In this instance, open scoring
- for all its flaws - actually warned us what was to come. But it still doesn't
make it any more palatable.
- OK, I keep hearing from a
vocal minority that Garcia landed the harder punches. Uh, OK, well, is that
based on what you actually saw or
what the punch-stats provided by the broadcast are telling you? In watching the
fight, the most telling and accurate shots were landed by Herrera. Yeah, Garcia
is the harder puncher - no argument there - but there's a huge difference
between throwing and landing. You can huff and puff and try to knock a house
down but if it doesn't land, it means nothing.
Those stats provided by HBO
or Showtime are from buttons being pushed by human beings at ringside. And
while you can certainly argue that you can accurately tabulate the quantity of
punches being thrown, you can't insist you can actually tell what really lands (and
beyond that, the quality of the punches). Going back to what I wrote earlier,
there's a couple of reasons a boxer who had just seven stoppages in his career
was pressing forward on Garcia and one of them isn't because he was getting hurt
by all those “harder punches” from Garcia that were obviously punishing him
throughout his body and head.
- In the aftermath of this
bout, there is the usual talk of Garcia being overrated or, even worse, “exposed”
but perhaps he just had a bad night. It happens in every other sport. My
boyhood idols in baseball, Tony Gwynn and Steve Garvey had 0-for-4 nights on
occasion; Michael Jordan had bad shooting nights and Peyton Manning has been
known to have multiple interception games once in awhile. When you play sports
at the highest levels, you won’t always be dominant but in a sport in which its
performers aren't seen more than two or three times a year, maybe that invites
more scrutiny for individual performances.
Regardless, Garcia is a good
young fighter who has crafted a very nice and lucrative career for himself but
this is really a testament to the quality of fighter Herrera is. Completely
overlooked coming into this fight by most pundits was a guy who, in recent
years, had beaten Ruslan Provodnikov and gone life-and-death with Mike Alvarado.
Only the clutch-and-grab tactics of Karim Mayfield have really ever made
Herrera look bad. Thought of as nothing more than a notch above the West Coast
club circuit fighter who was there as a stay-busy opponent, he proved he is a
quality prizefighter in his own right.
- Lastly, the whole cliché about
having to really beat the champion to
take a title should be thrown into the garbage can. Honestly, this is a tired
rationale for bad decisions. In theory, champions (in this instance, Garcia)
already have the advantage of when and where the fight takes place and usually
get paid more. That's the advantage they have rightfully earned but once you
step into that ring, everything else, in theory, should be equal. A qualified
and honest professional judge should be expected to put peripheral issues aside
and just be able to see fighter A and fighter B compete and score the round for
who they believe was the superior fighter for those three minutes, judging
accordingly round after round.
Not, “Well, yeah, this guy
won the round but he's not the champion. Did he beat him by enough?”
Huh? Really? In the words of
Gennady Golovkin, “Are you serious?” In the NBA, fans are outraged when teams
like the Miami Heat get favorable treatment from the officials because of their
stature and rightfully so. But somehow in boxing, it’s still accepted in
Let's get away from this
line of thinking as soon as possible. It’s a copout and we all know it.
OK, I gotta eat a lot of
crow. I thought Malik Scott was going to pull an upset special on Deontay
Wilder (hey, when I'm wrong, I'm really wrong). And no, I don't think Scott pulled a Greg Louganis here (yeah, perhaps
I'm not cynical enough in this instance) but Wilder’s power has never been in
question. There are still questions regarding his durability and chin.
But he's certainly proved to
be the best of the young American heavyweights at this juncture.
TMZ had a follow-up to its
story on Floyd Mayweather and the case of his missing jewelry on Friday as it
posted a story on the victims’ x-rays from the injuries they suffered from the attack
Mayweather allegedly orchestrated:
It looks pretty clear that
this is a ploy to extort a pretty high settlement from Mayweather but two
questions persist. First, where is the police report for such an incident or
are these guys subscribing to the street code that stresses “no snitching”?
Secondly, where is the
statement of denial from Mayweather and his representatives on this TMZ story?
“Juan Ma” Lopez saved his
career with his exciting second round TKO of Daniel Ponce de Leon. That is an
early candidate for “Round of the Year” in 2014...I think this past weekend was
the end of Tomasz Adamek as a heavyweight with any relevance...So neither Oscar
De la Hoya or Richard Schaefer were at this weekend’s card in Puerto Rico,
huh?...I don't really have an NCAA bracket; I watched very little college hoops
this season...So I guess the question now should be: Who isn’t signed with Haymon?...“Scandal” and “Nashville” are
delivering as expected on ABC…
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