“I’m ready to make a statement,” he said on Philly.com. “I have to go out there and dominate, I know that. Big money, that is what boxing is about and that’s every fighter’s dream, to fight on that stage, of course, you know, for a lot of money. But it’s one fight at a time.”
Those are the words of WBA/WBC junior welterweight title holder Danny Garcia 29-0 (17).This weekend on NBC, Garcia, age 27, will fight IBF junior welterweight title holder Lamont Peterson 33-2-1 (17). However, other than bragging rights not much else will be up for grabs since Garcia and Peterson are fighting at a catch weight of 143. Garcia has repeatedly indicated that he’s moving up to campaign as a welterweight, but intends to do it slowly. As for Peterson, age 31, I believe he’ll go wherever the money and the biggest fights are between 140-147.
Other than holding titles at 140, Garcia and Peterson share something else, and that is they’re both blue-collar fighters who have not been spoon fed or had their hands held as they battled their way up the ranks on their journey to capturing a world title. They also both come to fight and usually never mail it in. Garcia, despite winning his last two fights against Maurico Herrera and Rod Salka, didn’t look good against Herrera and was barely challenged by Salka. Peterson is also 2-0 in his last two bouts after suffering the second setback of his career when he was stopped (his IBF title wasn’t on the line) by the hard punching Lucas Matthysse in the third round back in May of 2013.
In January of 2014 Lamont retained his title with a unanimous decision over undefeated Dierry Jean, and then stopped Edgar Santana in the 10th round in his next bout seven months later to retain his title.
It would seem that Garcia and Peterson are entering their bout at a virtual crossroads, being that the winner will look to enter the Mayweather-Pacquiao winner sweepstakes and the loser, who will still be the reigning title holder at 140, will not be in such a great position in the eyes of the fans. And that’s another reason why I expect Garcia vs. Peterson to produce almost instant fireworks. Everyone who has watched both guys fight knows that they are fearless and pretty much bring it every time out. Garcia longs to make a big statement and wants the lottery fight which to date hasn’t come his way, and Peterson is of the same mind set. Both are well aware that owning titles is nice but the real money in professional boxing is mostly associated with partaking in big fights that bring out the fans.
With the fight being another installment of the “Premier Boxing Champions” series, they know they’ll be getting a lot of exposure and may be in front of new eyeballs who have never heard of them before, much less have seen them fight. So this is the ideal time for them to bring their A-game and make an impression. Both Danny and Lamont are skilled professionals who train and work very hard. Garcia has youth and durability on his side, Peterson has reach and perhaps versatility on his side. The biggest difference heading into the fight is, Peterson has more to gain since he can become the first to defeat the unbeaten Garcia, and that would really be a shot in the arm for his career at the right time. Because if Peterson loses to Garcia, he will in the eyes of the fans be mostly thought of as a gate keeper who comes up a little short when he steps up in class, regardless of him still holding the IBF junior welterweight title.
For Garcia, there’s not much of a statement he can make beating Peterson since Lamont has already lost to Matthysse, a fighter that Danny has already defeated. And with that in mind I have to think if any one of them has gone the extra mile in preparing for this bout, it’s probably Peterson. So much more is riding on the outcome for him than it is for Garcia. However, I don’t like what Peterson has said regarding his thoughts and approach to the bout. “Skills will be the difference. I can fight many different ways. I have the skills to fight inside and I have the skills to box. It’s about choosing one and showing my skill level at whichever one I do.”
To some that may not be alarming but it is to me. Peterson’s words tell me he’s going to wing it and let Garcia determine the tempo and terms as to how the fight will unfold. Well guess what, I can answer how Garcia will enter the bout before the fact — and the answer is he’s going to try and draw Peterson into a back alley brawl sometime during the first third of the fight. Danny knows if he gives Lamont the time and space to pick his shots, there’s a good chance he could lose a decision. Garcia no doubt believes after seeing Peterson get stopped by Matthysse, that he has the better chin and the best way to expose that is to force Peterson to fight and go to war with him. And based on Peterson’s words, I think he’ll oblige and fight Garcia’s intended fight, which will not be to his benefit.
Whenever fighters say they can win by fighting inside, which is code for saying I can punch and trade with anybody, or I have the skills to box, it’s a good indicator that they have no true style identity. Unless your name is Walker Smith Jr., better known as Sugar Ray Robinson, you’re not both a great boxer and a great puncher, you’re just not. By Peterson saying he can beat Garcia regardless if he boxes him or fights him tells me that Garcia will more than likely set the terms of this fight. Which means Peterson will match Danny and meet his force with force and go away from what gives him his best chance to win, and that’s him trying not to take Garcia out and just slightly beating him at every turn. Instead, Peterson will try and raise Garcia one during every exchange. That’ll be great for those watching the fight for however long it last, but it will probably be Peterson’s undoing too.
Frank Lotierzo can be contacted at GlovedFist@Gmail.com