LAS VEGAS — Once again Danny Garcia is the object of desire.
Shawn Porter wants him in an opposite corner, somewhere, and sooner rather than later.
The Showtime network wants Garcia back on the tube, after his right hand came out of the underbrush in Round 9 and knocked out the generally unsinkable Brandon Rios Saturday night at Mandalay Bay.
This is good news for Garcia.
Boxing is forgetful. Garcia had not fought in 50 weeks and had not won since November of 2016. He won his first championship in 2011 and was undefeated until last March, when Keith Thurman removed his WBC welterweight title.
Losses turn a fighter into damaged goods, at least for a while. With this punch, Garcia passed inspection. He is a commodity again.
“We worked on it all through camp,” said Angel Garcia, Danny’s father, trainer and zealous proponent. “When he [Rios] dropped his left hand a little bit, Danny could lean left and throw the right straight down the pike.”
Until that moment, Rios had played his part well. He was the impervious brawler who kept backing Garcia into corners and throwing uppercuts. He had won only four rounds, total, on three judges’ cards, but he had hopes of wearing down Garcia.
“Then I got lazy with a jab,” Rios said.
Garcia’s right crashed into Rios’ cheek and snapped his head back, and Rios fell hard. He rose at the eight count, and referee Kenny Bayless asked him to take a couple of steps.
Rios did so in the manner of a 3 a.m. Mardi Gras reveler.
“I’m thinking, if he [Rios] gets up from that one, he’s the man,” Angel Garcia said.
But Bayless stopped the fight, and Garcia became 34-1 with 20 knockouts.
Porter, who is 28-2-1 and also lost a welterweight title to Thurman, then crashed the post-fight interview and told Garcia he had no business horning in on Porter’s turf.
“This is the Danny Garcia show,” Garcia replied. “Shut the [deleted] up.”
Later, Porter said it only made sense to fight Garcia because Thurman, who has two belts, is tied up with an undetermined opponent on May 19 and then faces two mandatory challengers, one of whom is Porter. But that won’t happen until late in the year or maybe 2019.
The glamour welterweight is Errol Spence, the IBF champ, and he has mandatories, too.
So, for now, Porter and Garcia have each other.
“Danny is 29 and I want him to fight the best when he’s young,” Angel Garcia said. “I want him to retire when he’s old, not fight. So, yeah, we’ll fight Porter. But it has to be right.”
“Porter kept telling me he was from Vegas,” Garcia said. “This is my town, too. I beat Lucas Matthysse and Amir Khan here. I reminded Porter he really was from Ohio. I said, ‘You’ve been taking too many punches, bro. It’s not your backyard.’
“It reminded me of Kevin Hart trying to go onstage at the Super Bowl. That didn’t work too well.”
Porter didn’t give up the stage easily. He said he would give Garcia only a “C-plus” for this performance and said he was “winning, but not every round.”
Then he got to the crux of the matter.
“I knew I was going into the ring tonight,” he said. “We’ve got to put butts in the seats.”
It should be simple, since Porter, Garcia, Thurman and Spence are all promoted by Al Haymon’s Premier Boxing Champions. But Thurman is coming off elbow surgery and is calling 2018 “a strategic year.” Plus, no one knew exactly how Garcia would respond to his layoff.
All of them have been hammered, in the media and on the web, for inactivity.
“The critics are part of it,” Angel Garcia said. “They don’t go in the ring and get hit on the nose. But who killed Caesar? His own circle. Who killed Lincoln? His own circle.
“But if there’s no hate, there’s no fans.”
His son was more fatalistic.
“I know how the game works,” Danny said. “You want to fight who you want to fight. And it never happens.”
When you’re a wanted man, it usually does.