Two of the best junior welterweights on the planet, Danny Garcia (28-0, 16 KOs) and Lamont Peterson (32-2-1, 16 KOs), will fight this weekend at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York, on a card to be televised by Showtime. But why aren’t they facing each other?
Garcia, who is the Transnational Rankings, Ring Magazine, WBA and WBC junior welterweight champion, faces Rod Salka (19-3, 3 KOs) in the main event of the evening. The bout is a 10-round non-title fight contracted at 142 pounds.
Meanwhile, Peterson, the IBF titleholder, will put his IBF strap on the line versus Edgar Santana (29-4, 20 KOs) in a 12-rounder.
If you aren’t super excited about the fights, you are not alone.
Both Garcia and Peterson are prohibitive favorites, and the backlash on social media against the card has been particularly ruthless ever since it was first announced.
ESPN.com’s Dan Rafael jabbed at Golden Boy Promotions founder and President Oscar De La Hoya’s effort to make the fights seem interesting.
Heck, one boxing fan might have encapsulated the overall consensus of the boxing world in one simple question.
But is the backlash warranted?
More than any other, boxing is a sport driven by narrative. In fact, those in the business of boxing don’t refer to things like Garcia-Salka as fights at all. They call them promotions.
That’s what boxing is: a series of independent promotional ventures.
If you think about it, it sort of has to be this way. There is no season in boxing. There are no playoffs. There is no one governing body to oversee things and make decisions such as is the case with other sports.
Instead, boxing is every man for himself. It’s capitalism simultaneously at its best and worst in one dysfunctional little package.
As such, Saturday’s Showtime card might make some sense.
Both Garcia and Peterson are lower-tier A-side fighters. They’re good enough at what they do and popular enough with fight fans to headline a card on Showtime, one of boxing’s premier television destinations.
But neither man is anything near pay-per-view ready. Neither fighter commands the attention of someone like Floyd Mayweather or Manny Pacquiao.
Heck, neither is in the same league of someone like Canelo Alvarez just yet either. Garcia and Peterson are where a lot of fighters would want to be, but they still have a long way to go.
Regardless, Garcia and Peterson are two real commodities in a world driven by the necessity of exactly that. Yes, Garcia and Peterson have a long way to go as far as becoming boxing superstars, but they’re far enough along in their journeys now for their handlers to do everything within their powers to maximize potential earnings.
It’s not just a smart thing to do. Rather, it’s the fiduciary duty of everyone involved—managers, promoters and even television networks to an extent—to try and make the most of things. The better a fighter does in the sport, and the better he or she is managed within the business of the sport, the more money there is for everybody.
As much as we all like to pretend the opposite, boxing isn’t about high idealism. Things like honor, dignity and pride are important, but it’s called prizefighting for a reason and the prize is cold, hard cash.
The plan for Garcia and Peterson seems clear enough to me. Saturday night is a showcase bout for both. It’s not so much about testing the ability of each fighter. There’s been plenty of that already.
Rather, the separate bouts for Garcia and Peterson are meant to highlight their excellence as junior welterweights in an attempt to make a potential Garcia-Peterson promotion as lucrative as possible.
The question of the matter isn’t so much whether either of Saturday’s fights are warranted, but rather if there are diminishing enough returns in the venture to make the whole card a gigantic waste of everyone’s time.
The people in charge of deciding such matters, Golden Boy Promotions, Showtime, etc., thought well enough of the fights on Saturday to go through with the card, public backlash be damned.
Whether they’ll end up justified in their course of action remains to be seen. But at least in the interim, there will be two excellent junior welterweights lacing up the gloves on Saturday night.
Even if the two men in question should be fighting each other on Saturday, instead of Salka and Santana, boxing will be on TV this weekend on Showtime.
That has to count for something.
Kelsey McCarson, a member of the Transnational Boxing Rankings Board, contributes to Bleacher Report, Boxing Channel and The Sweet Science.