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NOTES FROM THE BOXING UNDERGROUND: NO LOSERS IN PORTER-GARCIA AFTERMATH

By Paul Magno | September 10, 2018
NOTES FROM THE BOXING UNDERGROUND: NO LOSERS IN PORTER-GARCIA AFTERMATH

Let’s face it, if a high-end boxing match is put together properly and both fighters perform to the best of their abilities, nobody really loses. It’s like a trip to Vegas where, if the hotels and casinos are doing their job, tourists will have a good time, feel like they’re coming away winners, but spend significantly more than they win. Nobody is tallying up receipts if they had a good time.

This past Saturday at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, we had a perfect example of this win-win dynamic when Shawn Porter and Danny Garcia met for the vacant WBC welterweight title.

From the beginning, everyone with even half a boxing brain knew this was a good matchup. Two high-end fighters in the prime of their athletic careers with conflicting/complimentary styles battling in a high-stakes contest. It was a no-brainer to highlight this one as a “must watch.”

And, although the fight played out differently than most expected, it did not disappoint.

When Porter fought at a distance in the beginning of the bout, you didn’t really know if this was intentional or simply a byproduct of Garcia timing his punches well and keeping Porter on the outside. As time passed, however, it was clear that Porter had intentionally set out to box rather than bull rush and maul, which has been his usual strategy since earning his place on the sport’s main stage.

But even with Porter tactically shaking things up, Garcia handled himself well. “Swift” was sharp, accurate, and focused. He was doing what he needed to do to win and was performing at his optimal level. When a fighter loses, one can always point out things that he should’ve done and maybe Garcia would’ve benefitted from upping his work rate when he saw that Porter was actually boxing him and not looking for trench warfare. In a sense, Porter beat Garcia at his own game. Ultimately, though, Garcia is Garcia and, for the most part, he fights how he fights—measured and careful, backed by an outstanding technical skillset. Asking him to employ another style, mid-fight, is a bit like asking a boxer to be a puncher or a brawler to be a flashy stylist.

I saw Garcia winning the fight 115-113, but this one was a real monster to score. There were so many close rounds that it easily could’ve been 115-113 for Porter or a 114-114 draw. 116-112 either way would also not have been a travesty. The judges who scored it 116-112 and 115-113 (twice) for Porter to give him the unanimous decision win didn’t get it “wrong,” they just leaned towards Porter’s work and, maybe, at least in my opinion, disregarded some of Garcia’s less flashy body work, which, on my scorecard, nudged things in his favor in a couple of rounds.

So, what’s next? Garcia may have lost on the scorecards, but he lost no salability or in-ring respect. As a matter of fact, one could make the case that this was his best all-around performance since he beat Lucas Matthysse in 2013. How awesome would it be if the boxing business wasn’t built around isolationist philosophies and short-sighted clutching nickels at the expense of potentially earning quarters because Garcia pitted against Terence Crawford or Manny Pacquiao would, stylistically, make for instant classics.

Realistically, though, what was out there for him before this fight, will be out there for him after this fight—it just won’t happen right away. Rematches with Thurman and Porter will be there, as will a shot at Errol Spence. But now he’ll probably have to go through an Andre Berto or Josesito Lopez first before getting the really big bouts.

For Porter, what’s next is a much easier question to answer. A proposition to meet IBF champ Errol Spence was verbally agreed to, post-fight, when the two had a cordial showdown in the ring. A rematch with Keith Thurman will also eventually be in the works. And if all does NOT go according to plan and the WBC insists on mucking things up by insisting on a mandatory defense for their new champ, Yordenis Ugas (who beat Cesar Barrionuevo on the undercard in an eliminator) is also a possibility.

But, no matter what happens from this point forward, the fans were winners. Good, bold matchmaking creates these win-win scenarios. Porter and Garcia walked away winners as well, with both having performed well and working to showcase their high-end skills and abilities.

I’ve been critical of both fighters in the past and there may come a day when I’m back being the loudmouth cynic, but there was nothing at all to gripe about on Saturday.

Quick (S)hits:

-- I didn’t catch the Superfly 3 card on HBO—thanks to the genius scheduling decisions to run simultaneous competing boxing shows on HBO and Showtime—but I will definitely catch up ASAP. Juan Francisco Estrada is still one of my personal favorites.

-- Amir Khan was Amir Khan on Saturday with his unanimous decision win over Samuel Vargas in the UK. Quick hands, questionable chin, and the physical ability to run, run, run away from danger until the final bell—it was all on display in this recent showcase. Khan, despite years in the business and tons of practical, hands-on experience, is still, basically, the same fighter he was when he made his pro debut. He has tremendous physical gifts, but is ultimately less than the sum of his parts as he has yet to put it all together into one cohesive package.

-- Canelo-GGG is coming up this Saturday and the Golovkinites are already warming up for another round of big drama whining if Canelo doesn’t offer up his chin and let himself be knocked out by their GAWD or if the decision doesn’t go their way. They’re also totally ready to toss out the “he got old” excuse should Canelo legit beat GGG. Brace yourself. More on Canelo-GGG during the week.

Got something for Magno? Send it here: paulmagno@theboxingtribune.com

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