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Bayamon Bomb?

(Photo © Tom Casino / SHOWTIME)
(Photo © Tom Casino / SHOWTIME)

By Gabriel Montoya


WBA/WBC light welterweight champion Danny Garcia got away with one on Saturday night.
 
Billed as a “homecoming fight” at the Coliseo Ruben Rodriguez in Bayamon, Puerto Rico, it all became anything but as Mauricio Herrera, a perennial also-ran who is no easy out, beat Garcia in all facets of the fight except with the judges. Over 12 rounds, Herrera hounded Garcia with elusive pressure, a steady double jab to the head and body and (sneaky) lead rights. For his part, Garcia took few chances, boxed within an intelligent envelope and learned what to do as the fight wore on. But on this scorecard as well as in the opinions of many in the Twitterverse and the media, Garcia simply didn’t do enough to convincingly win. However, Garcia is the champion, the Al Haymon-managed fighter, who has been working under the promotional banner of Golden Boy Promotions his entire career. So the judges scored a majority decision with Carlos Colon and Alejandro Rochin each seeing the bout for Garcia, 116-112, and (very ironically) the Puerto Rican judge, Gustavo Padilla marking a 114-114 tally. This scribe scored it 8-4, Herrera, with a swing round in there.

On a card that already featured Al Haymon-managed 6’ 6½” heavyweight Deontay Wilder stopping Malik Scott with one slapping left hook and a right that was partially blocked, fight fans were already outraged and ready to scream robbery. Whenever the wrong guy wins, it’s a robbery, miscarriage of justice and/or the way the sport of boxing works. Because the WBC was involved, this bout featured open scoring which, in a sense, is a way to watch, aid and abet a crime in progress.
 
In this case, the scores were announced throughout the bout. After four, one judge had it even at 38 apiece. The other two had it 40-36 and 39-37, respectively. As Showtime analyst Paulie Malignaggi said about three times on the broadcast (basically each time the scores were read for the judges), it was a good fight. Too bad they didn’t see it. On my scorecard, after four rounds, Herrera was up 40-36.
 
Garcia was missing with big shots, trying to find his rhythm, eating Herrera’s jabs and playing his game, defense, ring generalship and clean, effective punching. Garcia’s father/trainer Angel told his son to get it going after the fourth. To his credit, Garcia listened and followed directions. But in no way was he dominating on the scorecards much less even in the fight after four.
 
Some argue that open scoring is a buzzkill but it’s as effective as the sport’s regulators allow it to be. When a series of scores like that come to light or a final tally is so off that the entire crowd boos, industry pundits and media alike throw their hands in the air (naturally, waving them like they just don’t care is optional). Perhaps, we should send in a crew like this:
 
 
At the very least, incidents should be noted by every commission in the sport as well as sanctioning bodies. The names of bad judges should be collected and remembered (and not for future use). If we are talking tougher penalties for missing weight, failing drug tests or any other infraction, getting a score horribly wrong should have penalties too.
 
And if open scoring is going to be used by the WBC, then the data gathered (in this case, a miscarriage of justice unfolding very early on in a title fight) should be utilized at some point.
 
Mauricio Herrera is a tough fighter to score. He hunts and pecks in a herky-jerky style all his own, keeping his body sideways in a fencer-like pose. He is a skinny target who is hard to track. He’ll shift his shoulders and shoot a lead right, then dip under and be gone or crash into you headfirst and tie up. Smothering offense is also a talent of Herrera’s. In short, if Golden Boy or Haymon had hoped for Garcia, coming off his longest ever layoff of 182 days, to come “home” to Puerto Rico and win in impressive fashion, they picked just the wrong man to do it against. It showed all night.
 
Herrera should be rewarded for his showing. Likely, because this is boxing, he will have to wait around for another shot of this magnitude. A rematch with Ruslan Provodnikov would be ideal. If I am the Garcia camp, I would insist it come at 147 pounds.
 
Why? Because from the first minute of the fight, Garcia looked like a man who needed to move up in weight. Garcia admitted afterward that he had trouble making weight. A fighter who has faced an impressive list of fighters from the ghost of Erik Morales (twice) to Kendall Holt to an aging Nate Campbell to Amir Khan to Lucas Matthysse, weight is an issue in which to take note. Garcia is not one to make excuses or complain. At age 25, he’s laudably been a career 140-pounder. In person, he looks like he easily carries 20 more pounds in walking-around weight. It stands to reason that his body matured in that 182-day layoff and making the 140-pound limit was harder than expected. We get that. Garcia fought listlessly but intelligently within that framework. Poise in a crisis situation is something Garcia will need at welterweight where the challenges for an all-around fighter are going to be greater.
 
By round five, Garcia showed why he will continue to mature into a high-quality, intelligent fighter. He began to use his jab more and come underneath with his shots, catching Herrera coming in or matching jabs. Garcia also backpedaled and drew in his opponent, timing the onrushing fighter’s attacks. This was not the action fight I think many had hoped for with Garcia but a chess match. That said, it was a chess match Garcia did not win but one in which he learned how to adjust, take power off his shots and score on the move.
 
In boxing, we love to be entertained. We love to be outraged even more, rue the sport and the judges while blaming “robbery” decisions for why the sport isn’t more popular.
 
And maybe that’s true.
 
But without consequences - and this is where the media comes into play (calling the commission to inquire about the judges, bugging the sanctioning bodies for news on a rematch, etc.) - without media pressure ultimately shining a light on a potentially corrupt situation, the Mauricio Herrera vs. Danny Garcia fight (yesterday’s Ray Beltran vs. Ricky Burns – please note these placements in billing are no accident) will continue to happen.
 
As for Garcia’s future, the time is now to move to 147. He’s had a solid career at 140 and made some money from his defenses. Now it’s time for his body and health to move up and compete.
 
Dating back to the Campbell fight, Garcia has a pattern of looking like he is in too tough but then he bounces back with the lessons he has learned in his next fight. I expect he will follow the pattern as he ventures to welterweight. How his brand will grow after an “Ishtar” moment in Bayamon remains to be seen. As for what initiates said campaign…Adrien Broner-Garcia anyone?
 
Wilder-Scott
 
I still have no idea what to make of Deontay Wilder. There is not enough info to process. Do I think Malik Scott took a dive? No. He got caught on the temple by a giant of a man. It happens. I’d love to see Wilder face Alexander Povetkin but it sounds like he wants the winner of Bermane Stiverne-Chris Arreola II - not a bad idea in and of itself. Derek Chisora or Tyson Fury would be awesome too. I’ve seen Wilder buzzed before early on in his career but he also has the ability to come back and win by knockout. Now I want to see what Wilder, 31-0 (31), can do when pressed.
 
Glazkov vs. Adamek
 
Speaking of heavyweights who could challenge Wilder, I’m not sure if Vyachselav Glazkov is the guy but he certainly was impressive in beating Tomasz Adamek. Sure, Glazkov was given a dubious draw vs. Scott (who iced by Wilder in one round) last year but the Ukrainian fighter showed solid inside/mid-range skills in taking it to “Goral” through the first half of the fight. Finishing ability is what Glazkov lacked and Adamek showed why he’s been a champion, battling through a badly swollen right eye and coming on hard down the stretch.
 
While he lost the decision, Adamek gave Glazkov a valuable lesson in the final frames of the fight. It’s never really over though for Adamek, that might have been the last bit of juice in the grape. As for Glazkov, he’s leveled up. I’d love a stay-busy fight for him and then a shot at a top contender.
 
The Golden Child
 
Daniel Jacobs looked solid this weekend in dispatching Milton Nunez. Relaxed, flexible and bending at the knees and waist, Jacobs used footwork and ring intelligence to set up devastating powershots. He is honestly and solidly becoming a true two-handed fighter. However, the level of opposition needs to step up. Jacobs is likely poised to fight WBO middleweight title holder Peter Quillin soon. Hopefully, Jacobs gets at least one test beforehand.
 
Oh, lest I forget…
 
“JuanMa” Lopez vs. Abner Mares, anyone?
 
- or -
 
Team Oscar De la Hoya or Team Richard Schaefer? Who R U Picking?
 
You can email Gabriel at maxgmontoya@gmail.com, follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/gabriel_montoya and catch him every Monday on “The Next Round” with Steve Kim, now at its new home, www.blogtalkradio.com/thenextround or via iTunes subscription at https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/leave-it-in-ring-radio-blog/id316004573?mt=2. You can also tune in to hear him and co-host David Duenez live on the BlogTalk radio show www.Leave-It-In-The-Ring.com, Thursdays at 5-8 p.m., PT.
 
 
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