What do Rod Salka and Edgar Santana have in common? Well, they’re both boxers, of course, but they also have the commonality of being tune-up material, given that they face stern tasks in taking on Danny Garcia and Lamont Peterson, respectively, later this year, in a Golden Boy Promotions card on August 9th at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, NY.
Such a description may not go down well, but there is no disrespect here aimed towards either Salka or Santana. If there is any disrespect, it must be directed towards the matchmakers responsible for suggesting that junior welterweight champion Garcia, and Peterson, the #2 ranked fighter in the division, get in the ring with fighters so obviously below their level. Neither Salka nor Santana can even sniff the top 10 of the loaded scene at 140 lbs.
So why are Danny Garcia and Lamont Peterson taking these fights? The answer is flagrantly obvious – to look fantastic, cash a check, and bide time.
Of course, it’s nothing new. Mismatches are evident at most phases of a boxer’s career, from the embryonic prospect versus journeyman stage onwards, but by the time you’ve reached the top of your division, as is the case with Garcia and Peterson, the need for soft opposition could only be in any way justifiable when coming back from a long layoff or a devastating loss.
Garcia and Peterson are quite evidently on a collision course, given they both fight in the same weight class, under the same promotional banner and on the same card. Yet, how does fighting against two no-hopers build a potential fight between the two? Garcia and Peterson could be facing each other on that August 9th card instead, but now boxing fans are the ones who are punished.
The technique of matching potential rivals with beatable opponents, in order to fan the flames of said rivals’ potential fight down the line, is a tried and tested method. Garcia vs. Salka and Peterson vs. Santana are to act as appetizers, warming us all up for the main course that is Garcia vs Peterson later on. Unfortunately, this time the appetizers are off. They have been wheeled out by a conspicuously sheepish-looking waiter, and they should be sent straight back.
If the trick here is to convince us all to buy into Garcia vs Peterson any more than we already would have, it will fail. By putting them in with such modest opposition, our expectations will be so high that it is almost impossible for poor Danny and Lamont to satisfy us with their performances.
As a result, these ‘tune-ups’ are self-defeating. Simply by taking these fights, Garcia and Peterson can’t look good, no matter how good they look. How about that for pressure?
You might say I’m being too cynical. “This thing happens all the time in boxing”, you might say. I’m just not sure whose leg these fights are meant to pull. We’re all aware of the quality of Danny Garcia and Lamont Peterson, so let them fight each other. Now.
Garcia has fought largely top class opposition, and won, for around three years. Peterson has been mixing it at that level for a good four years. There is no need for tune-ups. This fight already makes sense, and anything else is just a delay.
I’ll happily eat humble pie if, come August 9th, we are treated to a pair of competitive fights. I’ll happily accept I was wrong if Rod Salka and Edgar Santana prove themselves in what are huge step-ups for them both. But that isn’t the aim of the game here.
The aim here is to make sure Danny Garcia and Lamont Peterson look good by handing them mismatches. The end result will be that Garcia and Peterson fight each other in a big junior welterweight clash down the line. Unfortunately in this particular case, the end doesn’t justify the means.