Boxing has afforded Gabriel Bracero a reason for being, and a get out of jail card.
The Brooklyn-born boxer got out of jail after being installed for shooting at someone, focused his energies on the ring instead of the thug life and today, thought he was being graced with the second biggest opportunity of his 33 years on the planet.
Bracero, who holds a 23-1 record, with just 4 KOs, was under the impression he'd be granted a title shot against 140 pound champion Danny Garcia of Philadelphia at Barclays Center on Aug. 9. That rug got yanked out from underneath he and his team, which includes Tommy Gallagher and Richie Kommisar, though, leaving them seeing stars…and trying to remain optimistic that the proverbial shot at the big time would be on the near horizon once again.
There would have been those who would have squawked, declaring Bracero, who holds the WBO Intercontintental title, to be not of the same caliber of a Garcia (28-0 with 16 KOs). To be sure, his resume doesn't boast the name recognition power of Garcias', who holds wins over Erik Morales, Amir Khan, Zab Judah and Lucas Mattyhsse. But Bracero was coming off a career-best win, over ex world title challenger Dmitriy Salita, who he handily outboxed, according to the judges. His signature loss came to Chop Chop Corley back in 2012, but he made it interesting by knocking down Corley in the eighth after hitting the deck three times, in the second, third and fifth.
The guy who got the Garcia gig, one Rod Salka, is also coming off a career best win, over 18-0 Alexei Collado on April 18 (UD10). He was saddled with a loss in the fight before that, against Canelo Alvarez' older and less talented bro Ricardo (MD10 loss on Dec. 14, 2013). Compare the resumes, and both men have a good record, and need to get their wins without being graced with even average power, if you judge power by KOs.
Salka has three KO wins on his 19-3 ledger, while Bracero has just four KOs on his 23-1 ledger. Barcero's promoter, Lou DiBella, told me he thinks Team Garcia wanted a softer touch than Bracero, who he reminds us has a quite-solid NYC amateur background, and can indeed bother a foe with his pop, as opposed to Salka. No, it's fair to say DiBella thinks Bracero is two cuts above Salka, who typically campaigns at 135 pounds, not the 140 pound class where Garcia holds crowns.
Anyone who doesn't comprehend that other reasons besides what the resume says don't help get fights made isn't living in the real world, so most folks get it that Garcia comes in on semi-shaky ground. In his last fight, I had him losing, to Mauricio Herrera, so if he wants to get back into the talk for a Floyd Mayweather fight, a step back a half step, against a Salka or Bracero-level foe, isn't a silly move from a confidence-building perspective.
One reason the Salka move doesn't make sense to me is that about 30% of Braceros' old Sunset Park, Brooklyn hood would have been buying tix to see the event, and yes, sometimes good ole ticket sales does impact a match being made or not.
Also, people who saw Bracero's emotion-filled plea for a big bout opportunity following his win over Salita will not soon forget it. He presents himself as a beacon of hope for other people who have a hard time existing in the confines of the system, and knows that he is a role model for the incarcerated seeking a second chance at the straight life, and I thought it entirely possible that he's have fought over his head Aug. 9, and given a MUCH better account of himself than naysayers are saying.
Lastly, did Chris Algieris' resume scream "Deserves A Title Shot Against Ruslan Provodnikov" leading up to his WBO title win? Rhetorical question…
Who will win #HOPKINSKOVALEV