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Danny Garcia vs. Rod Salka: Preview and Prediction for Light Welterweight Bout

Briggs SeekinsFeatured ColumnistAugust 3, 2014

Danny Garcia vs. Rod Salka: Preview and Prediction for Light Welterweight Bout

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    Richard Drew/Associated Press

    Saturday night in Brooklyn, New York, WBC and WBA light welterweight champion Danny Garcia returns to action when he faces Rod Salka at the Barclays Center. Neither of Garcia's belts will be on the line. 

    There's no reason they should be. Salka isn't even rated at lightweight, let alone at 140 pounds. The WBA and WBC are correct to refuse to sanction this as a title bout. 

    Garcia is in the prime of what has been developing into a stellar career. The choice to fight Salka has been puzzling, to put it mildly. 

Tale of the Tape

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    Ethan Miller/Getty Images
    Per Boxrec      Danny Garcia     Rod Salka
    Record:     28-0, 16 KOs      19-3, 3 KOs
    Height:     5'8.5"     5'7"
    Reach:     68.5"     67"
    Weight:     142 lbs     142 lbs
    Age:     26     31
    Stance:     Orthodox     Orthodox
    Hometown:     Philadelphia, Pennsylvania     Bunola, Pennsylvania
    Rounds:     164     144

    Since the WBA and WBC have made the sensible decision to refuse to sanction this as a 140-pound title fight, Danny Garcia's team decided to renegotiate the fight for 142 pounds. Consider it yet another advantage for Garcia against a career 135-pound fighter. 

    Garcia is not a knockout artist, but his power is dangerous and has won him important fights in his career. Salka has a meager three career knockouts, so power is clearly not a part of his game.

Main Storylines

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    Bebeto Matthews/Associated Press

    One question haunts this fight: Why the heck is Danny Garcia fighting Rod Salka? The choice of opponent is a disappointment to Garcia's fans and a source of disgust to boxing fans in general. 

    At 26, Garcia has earned his status as a legitimate champion and rising star. In 2012, he burst onto the scene, winning the WBC light welterweight belt from Erik Morales in March of that year and knocking the legend out with a perfect left hook in an October rematch. 

    In between the fights with Morales, he unified the WBA belt by stopping Amir Khan via Round 4 TKO. 

    In 2013, Garcia beat Zab Judah and the red-hot Lucas Matthysse. But he struggled last April to escape with a majority decision over Mauricio Herrera in Puerto Rico. 

    The fight with Herrera was close enough that Herrera probably deserves a rematch. But if Garcia didn't want to fight him again, then Viktor Postol, the No. 1 contender to his WBC belt, would have been a great matchup. 

    Thomas Dulorme would have made sense as well. He's fresh off a win over Karim Mayfield, who beat Herrera far more decisively than Garcia did. Garcia vs. Adrien Broner would have been a major event. 

    But instead Garcia has decided to fight Salka, an unrated lightweight with a mere three knockouts. I rarely get the opportunity to congratulate the alphabet soup organizations, but the WBC and WBA deserve credit for refusing to sanction this as a title fight. 

    During earlier eras, champions sometimes fought six or more times a year. Back then, non-title fights with guys like Salka were completely credible. 

    But that was then, and this is now. Garcia holds two belts and the lineal title. He has a responsibility to face a certain quality of opponent. 

    No offense to Salka, who is hardly a bum. Two of his three career losses were by majority decision, and the other was an eight-round decision fairly early in his career. He has some skill.

    But he's done nothing in his career to warrant this kind of high-profile opportunity. It's a true testament to the power Al Haymon wields that he could even get Showtime to sign off on Salka as an opponent. 

Strengths

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    Ethan Miller/Getty Images

    Danny Garcia has an aesthetically beautiful left hook with fight-ending power. He usually sets it up well. He is a smart fighter who does a good job of studying his opponent and probing for holes. 

    Garcia is a well-rounded boxer. He shifts well from defensive to offensive posture. He usually fights in a relaxed, controlled manner. 

    Rod Salka is light on his feet and has good defensive movement. He does a nice job of staying on the outside and then darting in to attack, before moving back out of danger. 

    He's an experienced fighter and hungry. This is a terrific opportunity for him, and all the genuine pressure here is on Garcia. Salka is in a spot where he can relax, focus and try to make something huge happen for his career. 

Weaknesses

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    Ethan Miller/Getty Images

    Danny Garcia had a lot of trouble dealing with the odd angles Mauricio Herrera employed in their last fight. His dangerous left hook was largely absent. 

    Against Lucas Matthysse, in a fight where he generally looked very good, he still had some trouble controlling the tempo in spots. This was even more the case against Herrera. 

    Rod Salka has only three career knockouts, so a lack of power threatens to be a real problem for him as he moves up in weight to face a champion. It will be hard for him to get Garcia's respect, which will make it tough for him to implement any sort of game plan. 

    Salka has a habit of leaning toward his right when he jabs. Against Garcia, that will set him up for the dangerous left hook. 

Danny Garcia Will Win If...

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    Ethan Miller/Getty Images

    Danny Garcia needs to control the pace of this fight, which means getting off first with his punches. That shouldn't be too difficult to do, because he's the bigger man with a longer reach. 

    Garcia has to get his feared left hook back into action in this fight, and to do that, he'll need to touch Rod Salka regularly with the jab to establish his range. Salka will be looking to take a page from Mauricio Herrera's playbook, so Garcia needs to anticipate him moving forward from unusual angles. 

    But Salka will also spend a lot of the fight trying to stay out of range, so Garcia will need to be ready to cut off the ring. He should look to land his straight right a lot. Garcia's right is not as celebrated as his left hook, but it's a good punch, and he used it well against Lucas Matthysse. 

Rod Salka Will Win If...

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    Rod Salka is going to need to make like a mosquito in this fight, annoying Danny Garcia with his stings and then flitting back out of range before the champion can swat him. Constant movement and erratic angles are going to be his only paths to victory. 

    Salka should be ready to either clinch or slip out of danger when Garcia moves into range for his left hook. He also has to stay out of range for Garcia's straight right. 

    Salka has to control the tempo of this fight. He has to spend most of his time in spots where Garcia can't reach him and attack suddenly and unexpectedly in order to score enough to win. 

Prediction

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    Ethan Miller/Getty Images

    Danny Garcia's father and trainer Angel Garcia has boasted that his son will "destroy Rod Salka." It's not exactly a bold prediction.

    Danny Garcia is the top light welterweight fighter in the world. Rod Salka is a light-hitting, unranked lightweight. If Garcia doesn't destroy him on Saturday, his stock will tumble.

    I think Garcia will do what is expected. Salka will show some spirit, and he might frustrate Garcia early. All the pressure here is on the champ.

    But Garcia will adjust and simply wear down the smaller man. I'm predicting a stoppage by Round 7. 

    If Garcia ends up staying at 140 and making another defense of his belts, I think it will be against Adrien Broner. But I think it's more likely Garcia will move up to full welterweight and face a second-tier opponent to get his feet wet at 147 pounds. 

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