Boxing’s Rogue Wave: Danny Garcia Vs. Lucas Matthysse

So continues our marathon coverage of one of the biggest fights of 2013, Floyd Mayweather vs. Canelo Alvarez on Showtime pay-per-view on Sept. 14. Previously: the meaning of Mayweather-Alvarez; a special edition of TQBR Radio; the undercard and week’s schedule, previewed; keys to the fight parts I and II; how good Mayweather-Alvarez could be; a preview and prediction for Lucas Matthysse-Danny Garcia; a staff roundtable; Alvarez tries to win one for redheads. Next: a final main event preview and prediction.
There are men who are better than the sum of their parts and other men who possess one defining trait that determines moment to moment how good they can be.
Danny Garcia and Lucas Matthysse are archetypical versions of such men.
When they collide on Saturday night on the undercard of the premier boxing event of the year, Floyd Mayweather vs. Saul Alvarez, their conflict will put into battle these disparate elements that each fighter is built from.
The stage is set for a showdown with mythological underpinnings:
The story of a man honed into excellence, facing a man of natural born power.
As they stare across the ring, waiting for the bell to sound, each may wonder at the man set against him.
Will God given gifts triumph over dedication and determination?
Danny Garcia is an everyman. He comes from Philadelphia, a hard city built on strong backs, toiling hours and the slick sweat of diligent work.
Like the city that he hails from, Garcia is tough. His prowess in the ring is not derived from mastery of technique, nor blazing speed, nor overwhelming power, nor a calculated cerebral dissection.
The impressive 26-0 record that he has amassed, instead, has been won by a simpler skill set:
Consistency, dedication and determination. While Garcia may not be the fastest, strongest, smartest, most skilled, explosive, or dynamic fighter, he’s also not lacking any of these qualities.
He is a balanced prizefighter — an oddly rare phenomenon.
One who has no singular skill or gift that arrests an eye and demands attention, but one who earns your respect as a fight fan, just as he earns his victories in the ring — with a steady performance, of competency and impressive, though not astounding, talent.
Garcia seems to be above average at everything. Good power, nice speed, solid fundamentals… the only thing one might say that’s truly exceptional among his cadre of characteristics seems to be his toughness and determination.
You get the impression from watching Garcia battle through tough spots that when he finally does lose, it won’t be from an off night or lack of effort; it will come from someone who had the ability to beat him down or outfox him for round upon round.
Neither one of those propositions will prove to be easy, as the young man from Philly has already bested a slew of hardened fighters.
And while the list of names on his ledger are impressive, some would argue they were too hardened in some cases.
The great Erik Morales was much closer to his nickname of “el Terrible” in the two bouts he had with Garcia, failing to make weight for each showdown.
The anatomy lesson on Amir Khan was already that his chin was really his achilles heel.
Zab Judah, Nate Campbell and Kendall Holt, all former title holders, hadn’t held a title other than “has been” for a number of years.
But such is the building of a boxing commodity that you must scrabble over a heap of broken fighters with polished names to get to the top. And much to his credit, Garcia showed impressive attributes in dealing with these men, delivering spectacular knockouts to Morales and Khan, while showing toughness and drive in decisions against the others.
All of this has set him atop the junior welterweight division and in position to start proffering an argument that his name should be among the scraps of paper in the pound-for-pound hat, should he best his foe on Saturday in demonstrative fashion.
For all his other victories so far, this fight is the culmination of Danny Garcia’s maturation process and will show the sport’s spectators whether he is truly better than the sum of his parts or whether the lack of dynamism will cap his career at this admirable plateau.
Lucas Matthysse is a phenom. He lives in Buenos Aires, Argentina, a city that has a dynamic ambiance and the most thriving live theater district in Latin America.
Like his city, a Matthysse match is rife with drama. The boxing ring becomes a stage for dramatically triumphant one-punch knockouts; other times, tragically close decisions.
If his concussive power is the sword by which he lives, it also has been that with which he’s died.
History has shown that Matthysse will knock you out or lose. Barely lose perhaps, or maybe lose only in the eyes of the judges, but lose none the less.
His 34 wins feature 32 knockouts, a 94 percent annihilation ratio.
Even the two men who have scraped by with disputable split decisions, Judah and Devon Alexander, have found themselves on the canvas at some point in their bouts.
Where Garcia gets by opponents with a dash of this and a dash of that, “The Machine” Matthysse has just one ingredient he pours into his victories: brute force.
His frightening one-punch knockout of Michael Dallas, Jr. earlier this year left the pugilist unconscious on the way to the mat, crumpled, lifeless and unmoving before the ref waved the bout off without a count.
It’s that spectacular and explosive power that has made Matthysse the favorite going into this defining fight of his career.
If he has learned from his losses, where he started slow, and was not consistent enough to prevail, he can emphatically thrust himself onto the main stages of the sport… if he falters and cannot use his natural, overwhelming talent to overcome this well-rounded, highly respected fighter, then he will be relegated to a dynamic one trick pony.
He could live off that reputation, much as Randall Bailey, another knockout king, has, earning paydays with little more than his big punch, but he will be swept away in the minds of boxing bastions looking to define pillars of the sport.
For all their dissimilarities, one thing clearly joins them. They each are improving, fight to fight.
What makes their showdown this weekend so enticing is that while we can postulate on the outcome based upon previous performances and common opponents, each new fight has honed their personas.
For Garcia, belts have made him believe. The crown has curated confidence.
For Matthysse knockouts have turned him into a destructive Dreadnought. Ferocious firepower has flamed the phenom.
Like Roy Jones vs. Bernard Hopkins or Ray Leonard vs. Marvin Hagler… every so often self-made men meet immaculately gifted mavens.
The mercurial concoction can fizzle like the former or illuminate like the latter.
While Garcia and Matthysse lack the pedigree of those forebears of nature vs. nurture, they certainly make up for it in sheer rugged brawling toughness.
The stage is set to pit these forces at odds, like two waves racing towards each other, roiling and building in strength.
These two men are meeting in boxing’s perfect storm.
The rogue wave they’ve created may take the casual fan by surprise, but it promises to sweep all spectators up in its dramatic violence…
The drama of a man rising above his individual strengths. An undefeated warrior ready for a step into greatness.
The drama of a man gifted with career-altering power. A dynamic figure ready to explode onto the scene.
As they stare across the ring, waiting for the bell to sound, each may wonder at the man set against him.
They’ll race forward plunging into the violence, looking to harm each other, hurt each other, show the world that their time is now… but perhaps somewhere in that maelstrom of ferocity, blows, fists and blood, there’ll be a moment where they each think to themselves…
We are the same.