It was almost three in the afternoon and Danny Garcia was already dressed for his afternoon workout. Before he could start hitting the bags and skipping rope, he first had to field a series of ten-minute phone calls from various members of the media. Most of the questions that day – that week – revolved around his next fight. The 32 year-old Garcia (36-2 with 21 KOs), who faces undefeated two-belt welterweight champion Errol Spence Jr. (26-0, 21 KOs) in one of the more anticipated matches of the year on Saturday, December 5th, on Fox Sports PBC pay-per-view (9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT), answered each question with the same measured approach he uses in the ring.
Training camp was good, he said, though he admitted that there was more “urgency” during this camp than any of the others. “I want to be champ again,” Garcia said. His father, Angel, who could be heard speaking loudly in the background, wants that as well. “He’s always amped,” Garcia said of his father. “But this time, he’s a little more amped.”
Both father and son realize that Garcia is on the wrong side of thirty. There’s a young crop of welterweights punching their way into contention and another loss, even a disputed one, could put Garcia at the back of a growing line. He recognizes why the decisions went against him in his losses to Shawn Porter and Keith Thurman and though he disagrees with both results, he knows what he has to do to avoid letting another close one get away.
By the time Garcia got around to answering my call, he had answered these questions several times. I asked him to tell me something different, something fans did not know about him. “There isn’t anything to tell – I’m just a regular guy.” He spoke a little bit about his clothing line and a pair of new items that were dropping fight week. He spoke about his barbershop and the possibility that they would need to close down again due to coronavirus restrictions. He talked about wanting to grow his real estate holdings and mentioned a desire to expand his portfolio outside of Pennsylvania.
After mentioning all of that, he insisted he was just a regular guy.
It wasn’t until I told Garcia that I had a few pro fights that he got out of character and opened up a bit. When he walks to the ring ready to do battle, he’s thinking about the pain and obstacles he had to face while growing up in Philadelphia. Some of those crucial formative years were spent without his father, who did a few years behind bars for drug related charges. I could relate to him having grown up with similar circumstances a few dozen miles northeast of him. When he climbs into the ring, he has his family, friends, and yes, all of Philadelphia on his mind.
“All of that is on my mind – the street smarts, the Philly attitude – it’s who I am.”
A Philly-fighter through and through, he talked about winning the Golden Gloves at the Blue Horizon, an arena cozy enough that, along the sides, the guy in the back row could have a conversation with the cornermen. He spoke about the influence that Bernard Hopkins has had on him.
But Garcia brings more than just a Philly influence with him whenever he fights. He’s part of a relatively new breed of Philadelphian, one with dual identities. He’s Philly and he’s Puerto Rican. While there are some members of the white boxing media who have adopted Saul "Canelo" Alvarez as white but not his darker haired brother Rigoberto, the color of Garcia’s skin does not matter.
Garcia can be included on lists with names like Joe Frazier and Bernard Hopkins because he is from Philadelphia. And he can be included on lists that include names like Felix Trinidad and Pedro Montanez because his genes are Borinquen. He listens to music in both Spanish and English and when he’s not put on the spot, his Spanish is a lot more fluent than those seen on internet memes.
I did not get the chance to ask Garcia if he knew that he was the first Philly Latino to come up through the Philadelphia amateur system and become a champion. Our time was up and he had other calls to get to. Maybe he knows, maybe he doesn’t. In those few minutes I got to speak with him, he gave me the impression that even if he did know about his groundbreaking accomplishments, he probably would still say that he’s just a regular guy.'
PBC Press Release written by Jose Corpas