By Chris Murray
For the Chris Murray Report and the Philadelphia Sunday Sun
Throughout his young career, world super-lightweight champion Danny “Swift” Garcia has found himself cast as the underdog by boxing insiders each time he’s stepped into the ring for a major fight.
And the unbeaten Garcia (27-0, 16 KOs) has made these skeptics eat their words. The 25-year-old phenom’s incredible performance in the ring has wowed the boxing world and his tenacity in the ring has made him a rising star.
Like most Philly fighters, Garcia’s relentless warrior mentality is one that can’t be taught.
“I’m a different fighter, it’s in me, it’s in my spirit,” said the graduate of Northeast Philadelphia’s George Washington High School. “Most guys have to learn to be a fighter. That’s the difference between me and these guys. They want to be a fighter. I am a fighter, first. I can do both (a boxer and fighter). What they learn, I already know. It’s in my spirit.”
That was the case in Garcia’s last title defense against heavily favored Lucas Matthysse, who had knocked out or stopped his last six opponents. A good number of boxing experts were predicting that the young North Philadelphia fighter would get knocked out.
In an action-packed fight in which he struggled early, Garcia won a unanimous decision over Matthysse last month to retain his World Boxing Association and World Boxing Council titles in the 140-pound division. It was the co-main event on the Floyd Mayweather Jr.-Canelo Alvarez undercard.
Early in the fight Matthysse, who has the ability to end a fight with just one punch, seemed to have the upper hand on Garcia, who didn’t get hurt and managed to stay on his feet by avoiding some of Matthysse hardest punches.
“It was even in the first couple of rounds, I stuck to my game plan, I’m a true champion, I make adjustments,” Garcia said.
The adjustment that Garcia made was the use of his left-hook to Matthysse’s head and body. By the seventh round, Garcia’s punches eventually took their toll on Matthysse, swelling his right eye shut. From that point, the challenger didn’t see the flurry left and rights peppering his face and mid-section.
The young North Philadelphia fighter showed his true grit in the 11th round when a game Matthysse stung Garcia with a right that knocked his mouthpiece out. Seemingly unfazed, Garcia bounced back with a left hook that put Matthysse on the canvas for the first time in his career.
Garcia came into that fight having already beaten some of the top names in the sport and former world champions like Amir Khan (4th Round TKO) and Zab Judah (unanimous decision). He said he’s never seen himself as an underdog. It’s something that others have imposed on him.
“I don’t even pay attention to none of that stuff. I just go in and train hard for the fight. I know what I can do. That’s something that the media has put on me, I don’t call myself an underdog,” Garcia said. “I don’t why they put that label on me but it is what it is.”
In the Matthysse fight, Garcia didn’t like the idea of being cast as the underdog because he felt he had fought a better quality of opponents than his rival.
“I don’t understand how I could be an underdog when Lucas Matthysse was the first fighter I’ve fought in five fights who wasn’t a current or past champion,” Garcia said. “He never won a world title and I’m the underdog.”
After his win over Matthysse, Garcia said he is looking to move up from the 140-pound division to the welterweight (147 pounds) where there could be some intriguing matchups. He said it’s up to his management team to make those matches for him.
Would he fight Matthysse again? Garcia said that’s out of the question.
“A rematch is pointless because I won the fight and I was the champion,” Garcia said. “If he was the champion, I would have to give him a rematch but he wasn’t the champ. He was the challenger, he lost.”
Some boxing observers said there is the possibility that Garcia would fight Mayweather, who methodically picked apart Alvarez in the same night Garcia defeated Matthysse. There’s also unbeaten WBA welterweight champion Adrien Broner (27-0, 22 KOs), who has a huge fight in December against Marcos Maidana of Argentina (34-3, 31 KOs).
“Whoever they put in front of me, I’m going to make a great show out of it, give them they want and win the fight,” Garcia said.
Given his ability to come up with big performances against seemingly better opposition, Garcia sees no limits in his potential to being one of the best pound-for-pound boxers in the world.
“I’m getting better and better with each fight and with every fight I’m showing something new,” Garcia said. I’m only 25-years-old. In a couple of years, God knows how good I’ll be. “