With one well-timed left hook in an exchange, Danny Garcia—hungry, young, undefeated and cut above the right eye—set the entire boxing universe right.
From the time he dropped Amir Khan suddenly in the third round of their WBA/WBC junior welterweight unification bout until referee Kenny Bayless called it to a halt with 32 seconds left in the fourth, just about every boxing fan in North America had to have been on his feet, cheering on the 24-year-old Philadelphia fighter's victory over the heavily-favored Brit.
That's the way it goes in boxing. There's always another determined young fighter in the wings, with skill, grit and self-confidence in his game plan. One who is ready to take advantage of his big shot and insert his name into all the conversations.
For the first two rounds of their July 14 fight it did appear that Khan would be able to outclass Garcia by taking advantage of his superior reach and hand speed. But even when he was losing rounds early, Garcia was doggedly staying within range, confident in his ability to exchange and trade.
In the third, Garcia demonstrated how footwork and timing can trump hand speed and reach. As both fighters opened up to exchange, Garcia was ready with his lead hook, dropping Khan and rocking him badly. Khan hung on gamely for the remainder of the round, but his legs were clearly shot.
Khan never seemed to recover, though he deserves full credit for going out like an old school champ. He fought aggressively in the manner of a wounded animal for most of the round. But Garcia consistently landed punishing combinations, and while Khan still appeared to have some fight left in him, Bayless' stoppage was still entirely appropriate.
Because Danny Garcia—everybody's new favorite fighter in the summer of 2012—was only going to hurt him worse.
This was the kind of fight that makes boxing fans call up their buddies and tell them to catch the HBO re-broadcast the next day. It's the kind of performance that gets a young fighter's name on everybody's lips and that leads to articles like this one.
"Mile High" Mike Alvarado, 33 (23)-0, would make a potentially explosive matchup for Garcia. I believe that Garcia would make fairly easy work of the former two-time Colorado state wresting champion, but I could be wrong and it could be very exciting even if I am right.
Alvarado TKO'd Breids Prescott last November on the undercard of the Pacquiao-Marquez pay-per-view. He beat Mauricio Herrera by unanimous decision in April, on the Top Rank pay-per-view headlined by Juan Manuel Marquez.
So with that kind of exposure, clearly Alvarado is on the radar. He is an active fighter and continues to put together the sort of record that demands a shot at somebody's title.
Due to the fact that he failed a random test of PEDs, the boxing future of Lamont Peterson, 30 (15)-1-1, remains uncertain. But this is America, so I have to believe that eventually Peterson is going to get the chance to redeem himself.
When he does come back, Garcia will be the guy who took over the belt he had to give up, the guy who won the lottery by filling in for what would have been Peterson's big rematch with Khan.
So a Peterson-Garcia fight naturally suggests itself. It makes logical narrative sense.
More importantly, Peterson-Garcia would be a fan-friendly fight. Both guys will show up looking to move in close and land punches.
Peterson has a more durable chin than Khan, so I'm inclined to think Garcia would be in for a longer, more protracted battle against Peterson. It's a potential fight-of-the-year type of matchup.
Brandon Rios, 30 (22)-0-1, has failed to make weight at 135 in two straight fights now, so the boxing world pretty much views him as a junior welterweight already. His status as an undefeated world champion moving up makes him an instant candidate for title fights in his new division.
Like most people who watched the fight, I think Rios benefited from one of the worst scoring decisions I have ever seen when he beat Richard Abril by split decision last April. But putting that aside, he has been an exciting, fan-friendly fighter.
I think Garcia would be a rude welcome for him at 140. I expect the reigning WBA and WBC champ would outbox Rios and beat him up with aggressive counter-punching.
But I have no doubts that Rios would carry his dangerous power with him to junior welterweight. I'll assume that maybe he came in for Abril less than fully prepared, and while there's no excuse for that, I don't expect he would make the same mistake with Garcia.
If Danny Garcia is now the man at 140, you could make a good argument that Lucas Matthysse, 31(29)-2, deserves to be regarded as the number one contender right now. The Ring has him rated number one.
Both of Matthysse's losses have come by razor-close split decisions. In November of 2010 he lost to Zab Judah, despite dropping him in round ten.
I actually had him losing against Judah. But like most writers and fans I had him beating Devin Alexander in June of 2011.
Alexander is at welterweight now, as are Timothy Bradley and Marcos Maidana. Khan has gone down and Lamont Peterson remains sidelined.
That leaves Matthysse as number one with only Zab Judah or Mike Alvarado with any kind of valid claims to the contrary.
Garcia's win over Khan has been a great moment for boxing. The perfect way to follow up on it might be to make the fight that most deserves to be made.
In the fallout from Garcia's upset of Khan, one of the biggest winners of all just might be none other than Juan Manuel Marquez: 54 (39)-6-1. I'd argue that Garcia's exciting breakthrough at 140 suddenly gives Dinamita an option for a potential pay-per-view opponent not named Manny Pacquiao.
If Marquez can't get another fight with Pacquiao and wants to stay busy in the meantime, Garcia suddenly provides him with a buzz-worthy opponent.
This is a fight that people could get interested in. It is Mexico versus Puerto Rico—the boxing version of what Germany-England is in Soccer (and World Wars). Of course Marquez would represent a huge step up in competition for Garcia.
But after what he did to Khan, I say he's ready for the step.
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