Garcias' relationship working just fine, thanks

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Angel Garcia (left) and Danny Garcia. (Luke Rafferty/Staff Photographer)

THE LIST IS LONG and infamous. Roy Jones Jr., James "Buster" Douglas and Floyd Mayweather Jr. are just part of a countless stream of boxers who began their careers with fathers firmly entrenched in their corners and then pushed them out, the combustible child-parent dynamic ignited by money, meddling and the pressures that accompany the pursuit of a championship.

Danny Garcia will turn 26 only 5 days after a March 15 stay-in-shape fight in Puerto Rico with Maricio Herrera, his first foray into the 147-pound division. Recognized as the 140-pound super lightweight champion in two of boxing's alphabet-soup ratings systems, Danny has already made millions and passed numerous tests, the latest a 12-round decision over Lucas Matthysse, a big-punching Argentine who was a 2-to-1 favorite to take both championships away.

The most impressive test Garcia has passed so far, though, is that relationship with his manager-father, Angel, whose passion for his son has spilled out into several well-documented news conference dust-ups with his son's opponents and their entourages, yet Angel remains as firmly entrenched as he was in his son's early days as a pro.

"It's hard," the son said before a sparring session earlier this week. "It's not easy. But at the end of the day, you have to look at the bigger picture and that's winning. So whatever it takes to win, then I guess I've got to do it. I've got to adapt. That's what I tell everybody. I've got to adapt. It's like a fight."

The son smiled. In a few minutes, he would begin one of three sparring sessions for that week, this one totaling six rounds. Two fighters, three rounds each, their styles complete contrasts. "One was a banger, so I had to box him," he said. "And one was more of a boxer, so I had to be aggressive. The second guy is supposed to be more like who I'm fighting. But you never know. You have to be ready for whatever."

That last line has been the foundation for his success, inside of the ring and outside it. Like the fighters of Philadelphia's boxing heydays who rose from the streets and battled to gain the big stage, Garcia has surprised observers, promoters and cable networks for much of his career.

Matthysse was not just supposed to beat Garcia in September, he was supposed to knock him out. That's because for most of Garcia's 26 fights before that, he was the one who stood in the middle and traded, his jarring quick rights and signature left uppercut overwhelming his weight division. That's how he beat Zab Judah in his hometown of Brooklyn last April, banging bloodily from opening bell to the end of the fight, both men cut and swollen at its end, both men embracing in a show of mutual respect.

Which was odd, given that the two camps nearly brawled in a parking lot outside of the Barclays Center in the hype before the fight, thanks to some signature inflammatory words from Danny's father.

"That's him all the time," said the son, smiling. "He's always coming at somebody."

You might even call it an act - until you meet Angel and realize how very real it is. His passion for his son is what motivates the animated rants that have enraged a parade of past opponents. Yet somehow this in-your-face guy has produced this respectful, humble kid, who on this day is sharing the gym he built off the back of the old man's barbershop with a few dozen would-be pugilists, hitting bags amid the young and the old, the fit and the fat.

"The thing is, I give Danny his space," Angel said. "When it's time to train, it's time to train. When it's time to be a dad, it's time to be a dad. The difference in the relationship between me and Danny is that I know who's the star. He's the star. When it comes to that time, a lot of coach/fathers think they're the spotlight. They're not. He's the star. As long as I think like that, we'll never crash heads. It's never an issue about money or anything like that. I'd love Danny whether he had money or didn't have money. That's a difference, too."

"I personally think it's working because they always had a great relationship as father and son," said Maritza Garcia, Danny's mother and Angel's wife. "Everybody has their ups and downs. But they have a phenomenal relationship. If he was going to change, he would have changed by now. When he first made his first million, he was still humble. I don't think money is going to change Danny. I really don't."

Supporting that view are the following: The kid has already won and defended his titles with the old man there the whole way. He has made millions already, with more millions looming out there in potential megafights with the likes of Mayweather. There have been no disputes over money, no clashes of ego, no building entourage getting in the way of the relationship.

But the best piece of evidence that Momma might be right came seconds after the fight ended with Matthysse last fall. Among all the people jumping around the ring that night, two figures stood still, clenched in each other's arms.

"I love you," the fighter whispered into the father's ear.

And for once, Angel Garcia was left speechless.

 


Email: donnels@phillynews.com

On Twitter: @samdonnellon

 

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