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 native.
The reality is Herrera, short of knocking Garcia out, simply wasn’t going back to Riverside with the belts.
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 certain quarters.
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…Ican be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and I tweet at www.twitter.com/stevemaxboxing. We also have a Facebook fan page at www.facebook.com/MaxBoxing, where you can discuss our content with Maxboxing readers as well as chime in via our fully interactive article comments sections.