Showtime's Espinoza Doesn't Doubt Garcia Injury
Boxing fans are eager to see what comes next for Cruel Hand Lucas Matthysse, who demolished Mike Dallas (right) on Saturday, on Showtime.
This being the boxing world, where the unexpected occurs regularly, and the truth is a malleable concept, employed more than intermittently but not unfailingly, the word that a fighter has came up injured is often met with skepticism. Often, not even polite skepticism. Such was the case when we learned Sunday that Danny Garcia injured a rib, or ribs, and will need time to heal, thus postponing his Feb. 9 title defense against Zab Judah.
Zab's dad Yoel told me Sunday that he has serious doubts that Garcia is actually injured and in fact thinks the Philly fighter is feigning injury because he fears Zab's level of readiness and hasn't been training all that hard.
I asked Stephen Espinoza, the executive vice president of sports at Showtime, which was set to televise the Garcia-Judah bout, if he needed to see proof of Garcia's injury, or he took Team Garcia's word at face value.
"Several people, including the opponent, showed skepticism at the injury, but to me there's no reason to doubt Danny," Espinoza told me. "He's always up for a difficult opponent, and this is a very good payday. And a real rivalry with Zab is there. I don't think he walks away any for any other reason than a legitimate one."
Espinoza told TSS that Garcia was hurt about a week ago, and aggravated it this weekend. He saw a doctor initially and is slated to visit a physician to get a diagnosis today. "We should get clear information today," he said.
Showtime's next big event comes Feb. 23, when Devon Alexander has a title defense against brit Kell Brook. Espinoza traveled to the UK and Showtime shot material on Brook. He said the boxer came off as very confident, and wants to have an impressive showing. Alexander, too, wants to look his best, Espinoza said, coming off a win which didn't light fires under fans, as foe Randall bailey didn't force him to push himself all that much. "He wants to make a statement that he's at the top of that division. Both want to make an impression," Espinoza said, and that should make for a fun clash.
Espinoza was, like most of us, mightily impressed with Lucas Matthysse, who exploded a bomb on Mike Dallas Saturday night, scoring a KO1 win. "The term gets thrown around a lot, but I do believe he is one of most avoided if not the most avoided in boxing. Saturday night isn't going to make some people more eager to fight him, but his popularity continues to grow and that will help him get big fights."
Next for Matthysse? "The delay in Danny's fight factors in, but I think the most natural would be a Marcos Maidana fight. That's a dream fight, both are tough guys, big punchers. You almost don't need a ref, just direct them to the center ring and have them slug it out."
Both men are from Argentina, so that story arc is compelling.
Matthysse holds the WBC interim junior welter title, while Garcia holds the regular WBC 140 pound belt. Maidana has fought his last three bouts at 147, so there could be an issue with making 140.
Was Espinoza even partially relieved that the Paul Malignaggi-Shane Mosley fight didn't come to fruition? No, he said, because he thought Mosley had a chance to win. Yes, he'd seen Mosley look underwhelming against Manny Pacquiao and Sergio Mora, but he thought--as I did, by the way--that Mosley didn't look shot in his last bout, against Canelo Alvarez.
Any idea on what's next for Paulie? "The names I've heard voiced are Maidana and Andre Berto is another name," Espinoza said. "I would think Berto is number one in that list."
A foe and site for Amir Khan, on April 20, are also on Espinoza's to do list. If the bout takes place in the States, he said, Josesito Lopez would be a strong possibility for the Brit. "If it's in the UK, it's more wide open."Espinoza is happy to allow Khan some time to get more comfortable with new trainer Virgil Hunter, so there's no huge rush.
Readers, weigh in. Who would you like to see next for Matthysse, Malignaggi, Khan and Maidana.