PHILLY BOXING HISTORY                                                                     October 20, 2012


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By John DiSanto
Photos by Ed Mulholland


Danny Garcia brushed off two days-worth of controversy leading up to fight night, and blasted ring legend Erik Morales out in round four of their rematch, Saturday at the new Barclays Center in Brooklyn, NY. A booming left hook from Garcia landed on Morales that spun him completely around as he crashed over the bottom strand of ropes. It was a classic Philly left hook from the City's fighter of the moment, and it officially ripped the torch from the faded former champion who was looking for one last opportunity to prove himself. Garcia did not allow Morales' career to continue, instead he stopped it on a dime and sent Morales out on his shield at 1:23 of the fourth round.

Two days before the fight, it appeared the fight might be scratched when it was discovered that Morales had failed a pair of random drug tests while in his Mexican training camp about one week prior. Morales tested positive for clenbuterol, a substance commonly used (unofficially) for weight-loss. When these results were announced by the National Anti-Doping Organization of the United States (USADA), the fight was immediately in jeopardy.

However, the WBC and the NY State Athletic Commission made it clear that only the official pre- and post-fight drug tests would determine (from their perspective) whether the fight would go on. However, Garcia still had the right not to fight a "dirty" opponent.

On Friday night, Garcia went to bed more or less resigned to the fact that the fight - and his first $1 million payday - would not happen. However, by the time he awoke, and learned that Morales' NY test results had come back clean, he decided to fight Saturday night.

Garcia said, "When I found out that his urine was dirty, I was like, 'That's why we do the test. I'm not going to do it. I just want a fair fight.' (But) when I woke up in the morning, my Mom told my Dad that I should fight him (Morales), because she had a gut feeling  that I would win. So I went on with the fight."

It was the right decision. Despite the controversy that swirled around the entire situation, this was a fight that Garcia had to put behind him to move on with the rest of his career. Morales is a true all-time great. He is also a favored son of the WBC and a popular cog at Golden Boy. Garcia needed to dispatch Morales before moving on to the rest of his boxing life. Further, Team Garcia knew that the substance Morales may have been using, was employed to help him strip his body down to the 140 pound limit. Without it, Morales would have never made the weight - just like in their first fight. Chances were that Morales would have very little strength in the ring. Garcia brushed off the controversy and went to work.

From the opening bell, it was clear that Garcia was in charge of the fight. However, the proud former champion, Morales, stood in with his younger opponent and attempted to do the things that will eventually make him a Hall of Famer.

Morales landed a few shots in round one, exploiting Garcia's typically slow start. However, Garcia got going much earlier than usual. He began throwing his jab, and immediately tested Morales to the body.

In the corner before the second round, Danny's father and trainer, Angel Garcia, reminded his son that an early body attack was the key to their plan. Garcia picked up the pace in the second, but Morales still managed to fill a few of Garcia's defensive holes with his legendary fists. But the punches had no affect on Garcia. He went back to the body and each attack seemed to drain the fumes left in Morales' tank.

As round three wound down, Garcia landed a good right-hand counter on Morales' chin. The old champ acknowledged the punch by smiling and nodding at Garcia. But Danny didn't pause to thank him.

In the final moments of the round, Garcia fired two left jabs and followed with a ramrod of a right hand. The punch staggered Morales and caused him to genuflect. But his knee never touched the canvas. His champion's heart kept him on his feet, and the bell saved him. After staggering toward the wrong corner, Morales finally made it back for a much needed one minute break.

In the following round, Danny Garcia let loose a monstrous left hook that caught Morales flush. The punch twisted his body and spun him like a tornado. The legend slammed to the canvas, draped over the bottom ring rope, and the fight was stopped by referee Benji Esteves. After a moment, Morales sat up and looked like his instincts were telling him to rise, but Garcia's Philly Left Hook had already ended the evening and brought Morales' career to a close.

It was a perfect punch. It drove into Morales, 52-9 (36 KOs), with everything that Garcia had. 

"I just turned my whole body and I hit him perfect with the left hook," Garcia said. "And it just landed."

Just landed? That was the understatement of the year.

"Morales was a good fight," Angel Garcia said. "We knew he was a little suspicious with the  Anti-Doping. I'm not calling him a dopey, but his urine was bad. But we still went along with it. The last week he was clean. We still did it. We pulled it out."

The outspoken father was visibly moved by his son's most recent accomplishment and unbridled success.

"Danny got fed to the lion, but that's okay," Angel said. "That's how you build true champions. You can only get pampered so much in your life. This is only the beginning of Danny's life. This is not ending." 

It is clear that Garcia has a bright future, and as good as 2012 was for him - now that he's won two titles, destroyed a legend, and soundly defeated another true boxing star (Amir Khan), Garcia can move on to the business of being a champion in 2013. Garcia, 25-0 (16 KOs) surprised the boxing world with each step he took this year, and there are still so many good fights out there for him. It will be exciting to watch.

One of the selling points of this mega fight card was that it was bringing the first world title fight to Brooklyn in 81 years (1931). That dry spell was seriously quenched on this night. By the time Garcia and Morales battled, it was the third title fight in Brooklyn since 1931.

Devon Alexander, St. Louis, defeated IBF welterweight champion Randall Bailey, Miami, to take the 147-pound title over 12 very slow rounds. Bailey was the guy who shattered Mike Jones' title dreams in June, and although he is generally recognized as one of the hardest punchers in the game, there were no late round heroics by the aging and hard-punching Bailey on this night.

Alexander fought safely and smartly, circling and scoring on the rusting champion. To his credit, Alexander withstood Bailey's power on a few occasions, and easily coasted to a unanimous decision for his second division title. The fight was a bore, and the crowd booed like crazy throughout the 12 rounds. 

Peter "Kid Chocolate" Quillin won an action-filled 12-round unanimous decision over WBO champion Hassan N'Dam to take a portion of the middleweight crown. Quillin dropped the champion twice in round four with crushing left hooks, and it appeared the fight would go no further. However, the game and athletic N'Dam kept fighting. Quillin scored two more knockdowns in round six and another two in the twelfth. The six knockdowns gave Quillin a huge lead on the cards, and paved the way for his title win. All three judges scored the fight 115-107 for Quillin.

Paulie Malignaggi won a close 12-round decision over Pablo Cesar Cano in a bout that was meant to be a WBA title defense for Malignaggi. However when Cano failed to make the 147-pound limit the day before, the bout was downgraded to a non-title fight. Generally the Brooklyn native Malignaggi outboxed Cano, but the fight remained competitive. After ten rounds, I had Paulie up by a 97-93 margin. But in round eleven, Cano floored Malignaggi with a right hand that suddenly pulled the fight close on the scorecards.

Cano went out and took the final round, coming awfully close to scoring the upset. My score after twelve rounds was 114-113 for Malignaggi. Two of the official judges had it by the same margin for Paulie. However, judge Glen Feldman turned in a shocking tally of 118-109 in Cano's favor. The official verdict went  in the books as a split decision for Malignaggi, 32-4 (7 KOs). Cano fell to 25-2-1 (19 KOs). 

The preliminary contests consisted of five bouts.

Brooklyn's Dmitriy Salita, 35-1-1 (18 KOs) won a six round unanimous decision over Brandon Hoskins (16-3-1 (8 KOs) in a junior middleweight fight.

Daniel Jacobs 23-1 (20 KOs), Brooklyn, crushed Josh Luteran, 13-2 (9 KOs), at 1:13 of round one of their scheduled 8-round super middleweight bout.

Eddie Gomez, 11-0 (8 KOs), floored Saul Benitez, 1-3 (0 KO), with a devastating left hook to end their junior middleweight fight at 1:23 of round two.

Brooklyn's Luis Collazo beat Philadelphian Steve Upsher Chambers by unanimous 8-round decision. Collazo took all eight rounds on my card. Upsher showed a lot of grit in the fight, but could not overcome the former world champion's incessant attack. All three judges scored the fight for Collazo. Frank Lombardi had it 80-72; Carlos Ortiz Jr scored 79-73, and Robin Taylor saw a close match, scoring it 57-55. Collazo improved to 32-5 (16 KOs); Upsher lost for just the second time in his career, 24-2-1 (6 KOs). 

The show opener was a 6-round draw between junior middleweights Boyd Melson, 10-1-1 (4 KOs), and Jason Thompson, 5-6-2 (4 KOs). All three judges scored the fight 56-56. 

Promoter Golden Boy announced the attendance as 11,112, and the live gate as "almost $800,000". 




John DiSanto - Brooklyn, NY - October 20, 2012

Photos by Ed Mulholland