The logic seemed sound. Danny Garcia scores an upset and maybe the performance of the year over a truly formidable opponent and so the thinking was, “Let’s build up this guy’s profile. Let’s make him a star!” How to do that? A gimme fight in Puerto Rico of course! Cause, you know, Danny’s Puerto Rican. Sort of. Yeah, he was born in Philadelphia, lived his whole life there, but both his parents are Puerto Rican and he loves Carlos Ortiz. What could go wrong?
What went wrong was Mauricio Herrera, a solid boxer who, if he had some pop in his fists, would be a world champion. After all, he has wins over Ruslan Provodnikov and Mike Dallas and he gave Mike Alvarado a very tough fight. Looks like someone underestimated the “B side” again. Or overestimated Garcia.
Last night Herrera was the busier and quicker boxer, beating Garcia to the punch over and over again and using a highly effective jab to neutralize the “hometown” fighter’s offensive efforts. As early as round three Danny’s voluble trainer and father Angel Garcia started showing definite signs of consternation, berating his son for his apparent inability to take control of the situation. “C’mon man, what the fuck is wrong with you?” he yelled at Danny after the fourth.
The champion did ramp up his punch output somewhat and what was supposed to be a routine title defense emerged as an entertaining and fast-paced battle, both men having their moments, but Herrera largely dictating the terms with that sharp jab and his quicker hands. Garcia was relying too much on his left hook, hoping to land the big shot that could turn everything around while Herrera was busier, initiating exchanges and landing the cleaner punches, backing Danny up and, for the most part, having it his way.
This match featured open scoring, so, depressingly, it was evident the fix was in as early as round five. After eight rounds two judges had the champion well ahead and Herrera needed a knockout to take the title, which made no sense whatsoever. However, this does explain Garcia’s lack of urgency in the final round after having his best moments in the tenth and eleventh. Herrera clearly won the final stanza and thus should have received a unanimous decision victory; he took no fewer than seven rounds. You could, without much difficulty, make a case he won nine. Even the Showtime crew had Herrera a clear winner. But officially, one judge scored it a draw, while the other two gave it to Garcia by a whopping four points. There is simply no way to justify or make sense of those scorecards.
This was supposed to be a joyous “homecoming” for young Danny and a win that would bolster his standing in the Mayweather sweepstakes. Instead it serves as another obvious indication that professional boxing is crooked as hell and overdue for some kind of clean-up. A sport which functions with no oversight and which cannot govern itself is bound to descend into chaos and after the recent Bryan Vera-Chavez Jr. debacle and now this, everyone’s bullshit meters have got to be in the red zone. Had the two offending judges given the fight to Garcia by a point or two, we would all find a way to forget about this by Monday morning. But when Al Bernstein and company are openly discussing the four point scores with incredulity, you know you’ve got a serious problem.
The Take-Away is as follows: Open scoring needs to go away as it serves absolutely no purpose except to drain all drama and excitement out of a competitive and hard-fought boxing match. Mauricio Herrera is a talented fighter who everyone overlooked and who got royally screwed last night. He deserves an immediate rematch. Of course he won’t get one. Garcia and Golden Boy will do everything they can to downplay what really happened. And the rest of us have to pretend like it’s business as usual and we aren’t noticing the fact this all stinks to high heaven. And that it’s getting increasingly hard to take. — Robert Portis