Story & Photos by John DiSanto – PhillyBoxingHistory.com
Sixteen months ago, the morning after he lost to Keith Thurman, Danny “Swift” Garcia woke up a non-champion for the first time in five years. It was a feeling he thought he might never experience, and it was a situation he was anxious to correct. However, his hopes of an immediate rematch with Thurman were dashed when Keith – and his pair of 147-pound titles – went on the DL. Garcia took some time off – too much some would say – and rebounded nearly one year later with a TKO of Brandon Rios.
It was a nice win – and a highlight reel KO – but it did not restore that feeling of being a champion that Danny had been missing. Thurman remained on the shelf and eventually let go of his world titles. This development opened the door for Garcia to vie for the same championship belt that he lost against Thurman.
“I was looking forward to being a four-time world champion when I fought Thurman, so this gives me the opportunity to become a four-time world champion,” Garcia said. “I want to go out there and get what’s mine. The WBC title is mine.”
His chance comes Saturday night at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, when Garcia takes on Shawn Porter, 28-2-1, 17 KOs, in a 12-round fight for the WBC welterweight championship, broadcast live on Showtime.
Garcia, 34-1, 20 KOs, has experienced the emotional rollercoaster since losing to Thurman. No longer a champion and no longer undefeated, the Philly native did his share of soul-searching, but never felt that his career or his time at the top was over. Garcia, and his outspoken father / trainer Angel Garcia, ruminated over the loss and waited patiently for their chance to prove themselves yet again.
“I don’t know about Danny, but myself, I couldn’t sleep,” Angel Garcia said about the loss to Thurman. “Danny had lost before in the amateurs, but that was only the amateurs. You just brush it off and keep going. But, I’ll tell you the truth, I was crushed. I felt betrayed by the politics of it. I was messed up for months. I wanted the rematch the next day. The next day I told him, you got to get back in there.”
Danny was used to being Philly’s champion, a feeling he had gotten used to and one that he took seriously.
“I’m not going to lie,” Danny Garcia said. “Sometimes it felt like I let my city down. I was the only Philadelphia world champion and I felt like I let everyone down. Once I saw Tevin (Farmer) win (the IBF 130-pound championship early last month), then it made me happy because now we have a world champion again. Just seeing someone else win made me happy. Now I just have to follow up. Then we’ll have two world champions.”
In Porter, Garcia will find a high-quality, and famously busy opponent who loves to fight and who figures to be directly in front of him – right in punching range. That should be a good formula for Danny, who has the power to turn any fight on a dime.
“(What we’ve seen in Porter so far) is the perfect style for Danny,” Angel said. “Now is he going to come like that? That we don’t know. But whatever he comes (like), we ready for anything.”
“We prepared ourselves for 12 hard rounds. We prepared ourselves for whatever,” Danny said. “In boxing they say, ‘the more you throw, the more you’re open to get hit’.”
“Yes,” Angel agreed. “He’s going to knock him out. Danny’s going to destroy that cat.”
“If you’re throwing, it’s got to be effective,” Danny said. “Volume punches aren’t always effective. I’m the sharper boxer, cleaner puncher. That’s my style, and I throw a lot of punches too. I throw more than 600 punches a fight. That’s a lot.”
To prepare for this fight, Team Garcia again went into “lockdown mode” at the DSG Boxing Gym. Usually an open locale for fans, media, and young aspiring boxers from the area, the gym was off limits to everyone outside Garcia’s immediate circle leading up to the fight.
“It was kind of bittersweet,” Danny said about closing his gym to the public. “It’s nice to have all the little kids from the neighborhood training here. One day, it will open back up, and we’ll have the kids here again. I just won’t be here – training as a fighter.”
Despite the many opportunities at 147 that lie before Garcia if he beats Porter, at 30, Danny is perhaps beginning to see a life beyond boxing.
“Some days I wake up and say I want to do this,” Danny said. “Some days I wake up and say I don’t feel like doing this. So, it just depends how I wake up. But I always find a new motivation, a new goal. I learned how to keep setting goals. That’s what keeps me motivated. Once you get the money and you can buy whatever you dreamed of, it has to be about your legacy. You have to keep setting goals to stay motivated.”
And beyond Porter, what are his goals?
“My goal is to get this belt and then unify, have another big unification fight at 147, and then I want to go up to 154,” Danny said. “That’s my goal. When I feel like I don’t have the passion for it and I don’t want to work hard or get up in the morning and push myself, then that will be the day I stop. But I’m still motivated.”
For now, all eyes of Team Garcia on firmly set on one goal, Shawn Porter and the fight on Saturday night.
“It’s not about the money, because Danny’s OK,” Angel said. “It’s that we want that belt to come back home, and it is coming home. Danny’s going to be WBC champ of the world again, September 8th. That’s going in the history books.”
“This gives me the chance to become a four-time world champion (two at 140 and two at 147), and I look forward to that chance,” Danny said. “The WBC title is mine. I take nothing away from him, and we prepared for the best Shawn Porter. It’s just getting that world title back. That’s it.”
To read more about the Philly fight scene – past and present – visit www.phillyboxinghistory.com.