Going To The Dogs: Danny Garcia TKO4 Amir Khan


****

Danny “Swift” Garcia hit the jackpot in Las Vegas last night when he overcame a few rough patches early to belt out Amir Khan via fourth-round TKO at the Mandalay Bay Casino and Resort.

This fight, overshadowed by the ceaseless antics of David Haye and Dereck Chisora, seemed like an afterthought to most, and Khan reaffirmed that notion by saying—repeatedly—that Danny Garcia was not on his level. But Khan was facing an undefeated class “A” opponent, while Haye answered the bell against an erratic journeyman of limited everything.

For two rounds, at least, it looked like Garcia had, indeed, been overmatched. Khan, 139, came out with the whip hand early, dropping straight rights down the middle with relative ease. At long range Khan has an edge on most because of his speed and reach, and Garcia was having difficulty gauging distance. In addition, Garcia suffered a cut over his right eye sometime during the second. But by standing his ground and firing back at every opportunity, Garcia, also 139, set the stage for the biggest win of his career. How many times have we seen fighters intimidated by speed shut themselves down? Garcia, at his own risk, was willing to mix it up with the faster man in order to get his timing down and exploit openings. Khan often tips off his punches by stepping too early or pulling back his right before throwing it, and last night he found someone willing to take the risks to capitalize on these mistakes.

At times, Khan, 25, has looked like the real right thing in the ring, but with the exception of a handful of fighters, the top money ranks in boxing are illusory, products of the feverish HBO/Showtime/P-4-P imagination. Having been painted in gold from head to toe—like the poor Gold Boy in Bedlam—Khan has finally smothered beneath the veneer. Unlike Garcia, who has proven his durability by taking flush shots from a bomber like Kendall Holt, Khan does not have a particularly sturdy chin. Add this defect to his other weaknesses—getting too close when flurrying, standing straight up before his opponent, poor infighting skills, and a tendency to freeze when in trouble—and you have a fighter whose limitations may very well outstrip his attributes.

Even before Garcia, 24, dropped the hammer on Khan, he had already started making adjustments, moving his head a bit, punching more often, and backing Khan up with some thudding bodyshots. When Garcia turned aggressor, Khan did what he usually does when pressed: he raised his gloves and stood as stock still as a taxidermy specimen. This allowed Garcia to place his blows with more precision, including a nifty right-hand-body/right-hand-head combination. With Khan already forced into pitter-patter mode by some knifing shots to the ribs, Garcia was well on his way to upsetting the dope.

With a little under 30 seconds to go in the third, Garcia caught Khan— in the midst of curling a sloppy right uppercut from his hip-with a crushing left hook to the side of the neck. Khan, now 26-3 (18), went down like a grandfather clock knocked over in a half-empty antique store. Somehow he rose, on mutinous legs, at the count of four. Referee Kenny Bayless gave Khan a hard look—and precious extra seconds—before allowing him to continue, but the bell rang before Garcia could end matters then and there.

Khan, Bolton, Lancashire, United Kingdom, wobbled back to his corner, where he was unable to fully recuperate between rounds. Within 10 seconds of the fourth, in fact, Khan hit the deck again. A pair of right hands sent Khan scrambling, and he skidded to the canvas on his hands and knees for another count. When the fight resumed, Garcia pounded Khan from ringpost to ringpost with Bayless seemingly on the verge of stepping in at any moment. But Khan showed his mettle and battled back, even egging Garcia on at one point. Garcia obliged, lashing Khan with a crossfire attack, driving him hither and thither with overhand rights, left hooks, and body shots.

Although Garcia threw a few wild haymakers, he was, for the most part, calm and selective in chasing down his prey. Even when moving in for the kill, Garcia showed the measured approach of a professional. Garcia fights within himself, which is a virtue Khan certainly does not possess. A left to the top of the head sent Khan collapsing in sections, and a final, disdainful right clipped him on the way down. It was the kind of free fall that immediately qualifies as a danger sign. Bayless tolled the mandatory eight and Khan took it with a faraway look in his eyes, as if he had been chewing on kif for the better part of a summer afternoon. Having had difficulties controlling his motor skills for the better part of three minutes and now unable even to stand up to shots high on the head, Khan was in need of an intervention. Bayless wisely stopped the massacre with about 30 seconds left in the round.

Already Garcia, fighting out of Philadelphia, is being dubbed the Superstar of the Hour, with Max Kellerman—naturally—twirling his baton and leading the HBO parade float on a march to analytical nowhere. This is one of the silliest aspects of contemporary prizefighting: the fantasies of the few being taken as some sort of objective reality. A .300 hitter in baseball is a .300 hitter. In boxing, a susperstar is almost always little more than the projection of a handful of egomaniacs who span electronic media from network to network and from website to website. A workmanlike fighter, Garcia has plenty of good matchups waiting for him in the future. But where he stands on the Superstar spreadsheet as of today—or any day, really—is of no importance whatsoever.

As for Khan, he may or may not have gone to the dogs at this point, but he remains an exciting fighter with enough talent to trouble any number of world-class operators. That, in itself, is an achievement worthy of note.

****

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Tags: AMIR KHAN Danny GArcia JUNIOR WELTERWEIGHTS

  • jet79

    Hi CA,
    This fight was a lot of fun, and the unexpected was a welcome diversion from the norm.
    I can’t figure Khan out. In the first two rounds he had the speed advantage, the distance set, and conceivably could’ve exploited his advantages for the remaining ten rounds. And yet, he relinquishes those advantages with disturbing frequency (good for us!). I can’t figure out why Khan does this. Is it ignorance? Machismo? A lack of skills? Or a combination of these? Granted, he overlooked Garcia, who really isn’t anything great, and this played into Garcia’s hands, but this pattern in Khan has been developing for a while. Saturday, it finally bit him in the ass.
    All credit  to Garcia, who fought the best fight he could’ve, committing to his punches, persisting in the exchanges he was losing, going to the body, and keeping his head when he had Khan hurt. He’s no world beater, but he was entertaining.

  • dennis wise

    Carlos, 
    I couldn’t believe Bayliss didn’t stop it earlier. Khan did the full Zab Judah chicken dance minus falling down a second time from one knock down.  I think Khan clearly has the ability to stink the joint out against fighters like this as he did against Kotelnyk, but he clearly won’t. 

  • FunkyBadger

     @dennis wise Khan’s gone the hard route against Maidana and now against Garcia. I’m starting to worry for him.
     
    You’ve proved you’re brave enough, Amir. Go back to jabbing people to death, please!

  • Michael Nelson

    Hey CA,
     
    Good stuff.  I’m not enamored with Khan’s style, but he made things interesting by standing his ground – I suspect because he saw old men like Campbell and Morales walk through Garcia’s stuff – and look for blood.  I don’t buy this stuff about Garcia’s father prompting him into fighting that way.  Have to think that was deliberate strategy, dumb or not.
     
    Spot on about his defensive liabilities.  Khan, for all his flash, is about as slippery as sandpaper, which explains why he’s terrified of in-fighting.  His best defense is either his blinding offense or his ability to maintain a healthy distance with his legs.  He chose not to use his legs, and Garcia had the gumption to throw with a much faster man.  Checkmate.
     
    Great thing is Garcia makes for fun fights with just about anyone.  That this likely means we’re gonna see more of him is a win.

  • thenonpareil

     @Michael Nelson HI MN, 
    I suspect Khan holds, shoves, and wrestles too much for your taste…heh.  I think you’re right–Khan came out like he thought Garcia couldn’t hurt him and fought like Garcia was a junior welterweight Dereck Chisora, someone with few visible skills. Khan is a pro and I don’t think any of that pre-fight talk bothered him.  He said so as much during the interview on HBO.  
    Khan likes to flurry forever while rooted to the canvas, his head stuck in the middle, chin dangling.  When I used to go to the boxing gym–oh, 40 pounds ago–my trainer always told me to move my head after I punch.  You have to think a step ahead in there, and Khan doesn’t seem to do that.  Garcia’s plan was as obvious as Kim Kardashian’s butt–punch with Khan, take advantage of his statuesque posing, and try to land a counter shot.  And it worked…luck, as I’ve read elsewhere, had nothing to do with it.  
    There are a lot of good matchups to be made among the jr. welterweights with Garcia  in the mix: Lopez, Khan, Matthysse, etc.  Let’s hope some of them get made. 
     
     

  • thenonpareil

     @dennis wise Hi Dennis, 
    I was sure Bayless was going to stop the fight in the third, but I guess he figured he would let Khan ride it out.  Early in the fourth, he could have stopped it, too, but he was giving Khan every opportunity to recover.  The way Khan crashed in the third was a big red danger signal.  No parachute effect on the way down–no attempt to break his fall–a secondary jolt to his head from the canvas, wobbly on his feet when he rose, and unresponsive to Bayless’  initial commands.  Not good.  The punishment he took in the fourth–it’s not A ROUND OF THE YEAR (sigh), if I guy just flaps his arms around between getting his faced pushed in–was excessive to me.  
     
    Khan can box well when he wants to (I liked how he boxed against Malignaggi, for example), but I suspect–and this is not something I’m definite about or anything like that–that he’s too arrogant to do so.  

  • thenonpareil

     @jet79 Hi JT, 
     
    Personally, I think too much is being made of Khan “should have won” and Khan “failed to do such and such.”  Long before the first knockdown, Garcia had already started making adjustments.  Twice, he hurt Khan to the body.  One shot to the body bent Khan over and had him retreating.  The right to the body/head combo had Khan covering up and flitting away.  Garcia also landed some hard shots to the head before the KO. Reading the “Nationalist” reports from the UK, you would think that Khan had already won the fight after two rounds!!!!  Professional prizefighters, by and large, don’t lose after giving up two rounds, no matter what Max Kellerman says.  
    Garcia is not Aaron Pryor, but I believe he is the only fighter I have ever seriously labeled a “prospect” on TCS (where I don’t go for prospect-mongering, P-4-P, FOTY, ROTY, etc.). He had a solid amateur background and proved early–unlike other prospects of the hour–that he could get through a long hard fight (Theophane), that he had stamina (Morales), and that he could take a shot (Holt).  Once you have these questions answered you have the basic makings of a prospect.  Guys today walk through a bunch of stiffs, prove nothing by doing so, and are prospects!  I’m rambling again.  You’re right, Garcia is not a world-beater, but he’ll be fun to watch.  Instead of throwing Lopez to the lions, it would have been nice to see Josesito against Garcia, for example, at 140, where Lopez belongs…  

  • thenonpareil

    Hi AirDrawnDagger, 
    that would be one hell of a fight.  I ragged on Matthysse when he fought Judah because of some of his technical flaws, but either he has improved since then or Judah was just a bad style matchup.  He is a serious banger–he even scored knockdowns in both of his losses–and is dangerous every second of every fight.  Olsugun is not going to have any favors done by any sanctioning body.  He needs to sue them, but no one is going to back that play, because he is only one paycheck out of many to his manager and promoter.  As for the fight itself, I think Matthysse might catch up to Garcia late at some point with something hard.  But it would be a pick ‘em fight going in, I think, and certainly something to drool over.  

  • FunkyBadger

     @thenonpareil  @dennis wise Not sure about arrogant… think immature sums him up more. Still boxes like a brilliant amatuer who doesn’t know how to react when his thing stops working – as it were.