Three Dog Night
It may be the dog days of summer, but that’s a poor excuse for the lame tripleheader at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center Saturday night. Showtime, Golden Boy Promotions, and Al Haymon presented a trio of mismatches that were as painful to watch as they are to write about.
If I’m honest, I’ll be called a hater. If I’m dishonest, I’m just a coward. But there’s no justification for what we witnessed, unless boxers are pieces on a chessboard and competition just a hit or miss proposition.
It’s some consolation that the fight card met our expectations. The problem was that our expectations were so low going in that having them met is at best a Pyrrhic victory.
Our advocacy is not something we take lightly. We choose our battles with care. We have a stake in boxing’s credibility . But we cannot do this on our own. In some realms the sword is mightier than the pen, and getting some help is not only called for, it’s critical.
Broadcasting showcases where favorites strafe no-hopes doesn’t win friends and influence people; nor is it any way to keep loyalists from fleeing our sport in droves.
In the main event of the night, WBC/WBC junior welterweight champion Danny “Swift” Garcia (29-0, 17 KOs), fighting out of the City of Brotherly Love, decimated designated victim, Rod Salka (19-4, 3 KOs), hailing from the boxing hotbed of Bunola, Pennsylvania. Garcia dropped Salka three times in the second round, forcing referee Steve Willis to stop the slaughter at 2:31. Salka, who is ranked #71 by BoxRec, had no business being in the ring with Garcia. He took an awful beating.
In the co-main, IBF junior welterweight champion Lamont Peterson (33-2-1, 17 KOs), from Washington, DC, defended his title against Spanish Harlem’s Edgar Santana (29-5, 20 KOs). Like Rod Salka, Santana was beaten from pillar to post. But unlike Salka, Santana, to his credit and detriment, was able to take it. His fight against Peterson lasted 10 rounds before it was stopped at 2:48. No doubt Santana needed a payday, but at what price?
The third fight of the night featured Brooklyn’s own Daniel Jacobs (28-1, 25 KOs), on the cusp of making history as the first cancer survivor to ever win a title (in this case the vacant WBA “regular” middleweight title). His opponent was Jarrod Fletcher (18-2, 10 KOs), from Hervey Bay, Queensland, Australia. Jacobs vs. Fletcher was the most competitive fight of the night, which under the circumstances isn’t saying much. He also took a pounding, hitting the deck in rounds one and five, at which point the ref waved it off at 2:58.
There will always be winners and losers. It’s the essence of sport. But when the winner and loser are preordained, as was the case Saturday night, the frisson of competition morphs into mistrust. The fans deserve better. The fighters deserve better. And boxing deserves better as well.