Former junior welterweight title holder Danny Garcia 31-0 (18) made his welterweight debut this past Saturday night at the Barclays Center in New York. His opponent former junior welterweight/welterweight title holder Paulie Malignaggi 33-7 (7), hadn’t fought in 16 months and was coming off the worst shellacking of his 14 year career. Prior to the first punch being thrown, it was well understood in boxing circles that Garcia, 27, represented the future and the A-side of the bout and Malignaggi, 34, was the warm body/opponent for Garcia to shine against and make a nice welterweight splash.
If there ever was a fight that was easy to handicap and predict who would win and how the fight would play out, it was Garcia vs. Malignaggi. It was noted before the bout that Garcia had trouble with movers like Malignaggi, but when all was said and done he’d most likely be too strong and aggressive for him just as well. As for the Malignaggi side of the coin, it was understood that his legs were gone, his balance was gone and he probably couldn’t recover and bounce back from the thrashing he took from Shawn Porter in his last fight. And that was exactly how the fight played out.
For the first round and some of the second, Malignaggi moved well enough to prevent Garcia from walking through him, but you could tell that it was only a matter of time before Paulie would be treading water and fighting up hill. And the fact that Paulie couldn’t throw anything at Danny to give him the slightest bit of trepidation, allowed Garcia to fight without a sense of urgency. He knew with each passing round he’d get closer to Malignaggi and be able to put some more hurt on him, and smartly he didn’t attempt to do it all in one round or with one punch. It was measured and methodical aggression. With each passing round Garcia beat Malignaggi up a little more – because Danny found his rhythm and understood that Paulie didn’t have the power to make him do anything that he didn’t want to. Whereas Malignaggi was taking more shots, was cut above and below his right eye and grasped that Danny would soon raise the rent and come harder with left hooks and finishing right hands. Ultimately, the fight was stopped in the ninth round. Malignaggi saved faced and finished on his feet and when all was said and done, Garcia was dominant and left no question as to whose night it was.
However, was that enough for Garcia?
Today winning isn’t always enough, a fighter positioning for a big fight must be impressive and memorable. We knew before the fight that Danny was tough and aggressive. But looking back at the fight, Garcia should’ve gone through Malignaggi, especially at this stage of Paulie’s career. In Malignaggi, he had a fighter in front of him who had bad balance, no legs, lacked the power to hurt or impede him and was fighting more to prove a point that he wasn’t finished as an upper-tier fighter. In reality Garcia was able to do whatever he wanted to versus a fighter with bad wheels and no fight altering power, yet somehow Malignaggi forced Danny to really have to think and work in order for him to get Paulie out of there.
Danny Garcia is just 27 years old. He’s no doubt elite, but he didn’t stimulate the fan interest to really wanna see him again. The welterweight division is one of the deeper divisions in boxing and there are fights out there for him. Everybody is chasing Floyd Mayweather for a chance to fight for the pot of gold. Unfortunately Garcia didn’t sell one ticket for anyone wanting to see him challenge Mayweather. He looked like the rest of the tweeners who would go the distance with Mayweather but never really come close to beating him.
Had Danny really blown Malignaggi away he would be getting a lot of buzz today, but that’s not the case because he wasn’t impressive or memorable against Paulie Malignaggi. And that simply isn’t enough to stimulate boxing fans to covet seeing him fight again. Yes, they’ll watch, but more so because they’re boxing fans. No, we can’t write Danny off as not being big time, but had he taken Malignaggi apart he’d be getting some juice today and being mentioned as a worthy opponent for Mayweather, and that’s not the case.
Frank Lotierzo can be contacted at GlovedFist@Gmail.com