DANNY GARCIA, ROD SALKA ADDRESS CRITICISM OF THEIR FIGHT
Garcia: "Its the media's problem"
Danny Garcia, the true wolrd champion at 140 pounds, will headline a show at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, NY this Saturday, August 9th. Showtime will broadcast the show. However, the two sanctioning bodies that recognize Garcia, the WBA and WBC, have refused to sanction the bout as a world title bout based on Salka's lack of world-class credentials. The bout will go on as a ten-round bout with a 142-pound weight limit. On a recent conference call, here is how Garcia and Salka addressed the situation:
Promoter Oscar De La Hoya: This fight, the main event, which all have been waiting for, Danny Garcia vs Rod Salka, which will be a 10-rounder in the welterweight division. At this time I would like to introduce to you, he hails from Bunola, Pennsylvania. He has a record of 19-3 with 3 KOs. They call him "Lightning" Rod Salka for a reason. It's great to introduce someone who is a proud United States Air Force veteran. He is here to win against Danny Garcia. He's coming off a huge upset against... Alexei Collado, which he handed Collado his very first professional loss April 18th and he expects to shock the world. He's coming prepared. He's ready. Let me introduce to you from Bunola, Pennsylvania, Rod Salka.
Rod Salka: Thanks, Oscar. Training camp is going great. We're up in the mountains in California, PA. Been up here for about seven weeks, it'll be eight weeks by the time of the fight and we're ready to rumble.
O. De La Hoya: And now, let me introduce to you the champion. He has a record of 20-0 with 16 KOs and now in his third year as a world champion, Danny has made five successful title defenses. He won his first world title in March of 2012 by dropping and decisioning legendary Erik Morales for the WBC 140-pound title. He helped open Barclays Center for business with a one-punch knockout of Morales in the arena, which was a 2012 knockout of the year candidate. He holds tremendous win over champions of very high caliber Mauricio Herrera, the amazing Lucas Matthysse, which he put on a tremendous performance. Here you have a fighter who has been on the big stage, who is ready to perform, who is ready to go out there and once again put on a tremendous show for his fan base that keeps growing every single day. Let me introduce the [world junior welterweight] champion, Danny "Swift" Garcia.
Danny Garcia: I want to thank everybody on this conference call. Camp is going tremendous. I've been sparring hundreds of rounds. I'm running my miles every day. I'm very excited for this fight. I can't wait to be back in the Barclays Center to give the fans my third performance at Barclays Center. I had two great performances there already, with Morales and Zab Judah. I'm really motivated and, like I say, August 9th at the Barclays Center it's the "Danny Garcia purge."
Q: Why is the best fighter in the 140-lb division fighting a fighter with Salka's type of resume?
D. Garcia: You know, I don't pick my opponents. My manager Al Haymon does. And I never go against him. He picked the Khan fight, he picked the Matthysse fight, he picked the Zab Judah fight, he picked the Herrera fight, he picked all my fights. I never question him about his decisions. I just accept the fight and my job is to train hard and go in there August 9 and give the people at the Barclays Center a great performance and a good fight. At the end of the day, my style brings out the best in my opponent, so I'm looking forward to an action-packed fight August 9 and I can't wait.
Q: Was that [IBF junior welterweight titleholder Lamont] Peterson fight one that you would prefer to have?
D. Garcia: At the end of the day, it's what I want because I can say what I want, but you know, right now, I've got August 9, so I can't look past anybody. The same with Lamont Peterson. He can't look past Edgar Santana. At the end of the day, we've both got to get these victories and at the end of the year or the beginning of next year that we could do a unification bout.
Q: What's your plan of attack against Salka, who does not have a lot of experience against the top level fighters?
D. Garcia: I've got to go in there and be smart. I can't make mistakes. I've got to stay sharp. I've got to stay composed. I've got to work on my jab, I've got to move my head and I've got to go in there and seek and destroy and look like a champion.
Q: Is there a need or desire to win by knockout, to win spectacularly, perhaps similarly to the way you beat Morales in the rematch?
D. Garcia: I think it's very important for me to go out there and look good August 9th. I've got to go in there and look like a champion. I'll fight at the Barclays Center. I love the atmosphere there. It's a beautiful arena. I'm very motivated. I did everything right this camp. I haven't made a lot of mistakes sparring, so I'm looking good. I'm looking sharp and come August 9 there's going to be another excellent performance and I'm going to go in there and try to give my fans a knockout.
Q: How do you feel about the kind of the criticism that has been leveled against his fight?
D. Garcia: That's the media's problem. At the end of the day, he's got two hands, I've got two hands and we're going to fight. It's a fight. It doesn't matter who he is. He's got two hands, I've got two hands and it's going to be a fight. It doesn't matter who they put in there. It's going to be an excellent performance August 9th, two guys going in there and giving their all and it's going to be a great fight.
Q: Will you feel victorious if you go the distance and you give a good fight what does that do for your career, let alone winning?
R. Salka: I don't care what that would do. I don't have any other expectations other than coming in there and winning the fight. Having any other thoughts about that only distracts from the goal and the goal is to ignore that and win the fight. So, come August 9th I'm coming to win.
Q: Do you feel that there's any extra pressure on Danny and, if so, is that something that you can take advantage of?
R. Salka: Honestly, at this level I don't really feel like anybody listens. None of the fighters are really taking any kind of praise and any of that stuff. Like he says, at the end of the day, we're two guys with two hands and we're going to go in there and we're going to fight. It really doesn't matter what anybody is saying because that's the facts. So, absolutely not, I don't think there's any more pressure. We feel pressure going in there to fight regardless. It's what we do, it's what we do every day, it's what we train to do, it's what we've trained to do for years. And at the end of the day we're going in there and we're doing our job. So, there really is not pressure there, just a great atmosphere. It's going to be an awesome night and we're going to go in there and handle our business and we're going to get it on August 9.
Q: In the event that both Danny Garcia and Lamont Peterson are victorious, is that a fight, as Danny referenced that you would push for for the end of the year?
O. De La Hoya: Well, I mean, it's a fight that has been talked about, but there's nothing that we can push for now because Danny Garcia and Salka, as much as this fight has been written about and talked about, these are two live, willing, hard-working and dedicated fighters that are going to give it their all August 9th. So, there's really nothing to talk about looking ahead. We feel that making this card, putting it together we're going to have a lot of shockers, a lot of surprises, a lot of great performances. We're going to get it all August 9. We have fighters that have inspirational stories, fighters that have worked from the bottom all the way up, like Danny Garcia, Salka, who served our country. We have everything on this card and so there's nothing that we can really talk about concerning the main event. All we can talk about is we'll have to wait and see what happens August 9 because we don't know what's going to happen.
Q: Danny, you've lost a lot of pound-for-pound momentum since the disputed decision win against Herrera in Puerto Rico and now this non-title debacle with Salka. How do you get that momentum back?
D. Garcia: I already got momentum. I've been training hard. I'm 28 now. I have no losses and I'm always motivated. I feel like I've got great momentum now. I've just got to go in there August 9 and perform and get the W. That's all that matters, other than ratings and rankings and what the people think, it doesn't matter because good media is good media and bad media is still good media, as long as people are paying attention it makes me relevant and I'm going to go in there August 9 and give the fans a great fight.
Q: You referred to the controversy as the media's problem. Is that really the paying fan's problem? What did you mean by that?
D. Garcia: My fans, they're always going to be my fans regardless. Danny Garcia's fans support what he does regardless. For other people, I can't tell for other people. My fans back me up and they love me no matter what.
Q: What is your gripe with the media's assessment of this fight?
D. Garcia: I don't read articles and stuff like that. But people will say what they want to say, but it takes a lot of hard work and a lot of dedication to be a world champion and to face pound-for-pound and tough fighters and beat them. So, if you don't like it, you've still got to respect it because at the end of the day it takes a lot of hard work to be an athlete and it takes an extra amount of work to be a world champion.
Q: Rod, what do you think about the fact that this fight was downgraded to non-title status?
R. Salka: It is what it is. There's nothing I can do about that. I'd rather it be for the titles, but what am I going to do?
Q: Is beating Garcia non-title at welterweight just as good for you as beating him for the title? I guess what I'm asking you is what do you have to gain aside from your purse?
R. Salka: I'm fighting the best fighter at 140 pounds in the world. Titles are what they are, but would I rather fight some guy nobody ever heard of for a title or would I rather fight some guy everybody knows who he is for no title? You know what I mean? Why wouldn't I want to fight Danny Garcia? He's the best we've got out there. It's the biggest fight you could possibly get at 140 pounds. I really don't care if I can put a belt on at the end of it. I can take my purse and go out and have a thousand of those made if I wanted to, what is that?
Q: Though you're not the underdog here is that criticism motivate you into that underdog mindset that's served you so well in the past?
D. Garcia: My mindset is to go in there and win and that's how I approach every one of my fights. Even when I was the underdog against Khan and I was the underdog against Matthysse. I couldn't understand how I was the underdog, but the media and the people always want to choose the fighter with more fame and more publicity. That's what makes the underdog when you're fighting somebody who had probably a bigger name than you in the sport. But I never had in my mind that I was the underdog, so I just train hard for the occasion and win in spectacular form.
Q: Now, a week or so before the fight, how are those two extra pounds you have in this fight benefitting you? Do you feel the defense between 140 and the weight you are for this fight?
D. Garcia: I feel really energized usually at this time. When I've got to be 140 I feel a little bit weak from losing the weight and maintaining, skipping meals and stuff like that. But I'm able to walk around a little bit more comfortable. I've still got to work hard to make the weight, I've still got to sacrifice, but those two pounds, as anybody knows in boxing if you're a fighter, two pounds makes a big difference. It's helping me, I'm still strong sparring and I still feel strong working out, so it's going to be a big difference.
Q: Rod, when you were fighting Alexei Collado, was it in your mind at the time that you would be going out to fight the very best fighter in the world at 140 pounds?
R. Salka: No, I wouldn't have thought that I'd be fighting Danny Garcia in my next fight. Heck, when I was promoting my own shows I didn't know who I was going to fight in my next fight. It's just the nature of the beast. You never know. It might be a big fight or I might have been fighting off TV or on another TV network somewhere else. You can't predict these things in boxing. I'm happy I did get it, I'm happy that fight went well. I did well and I'm happy to get the opportunity.
Q: What is your preferred weight and how is a 142-pound weight limit for you?
R. Salka: Like he was saying, I can make 135, I can make it. I can get down, heck, I can get down to whatever I need to get down to. That's my job. But that's really a lot more comfortable for me. A hundred and forty pounds, I don't want to say easy because you're killing yourself in the gym every day to get ready for the fight and ready for war. But to get down the weight and make sure your body is as fine-tuned as it can be and you're sacrificing as little as possible to get down and lose weight. I've still got to do that to get to 40.
Q : Oscar, how did this card come about as opposed to the desired match-up between Garcia and Peterson?
O. De La Hoya: We, obviously, did want to stage a fight that all the media was suggesting. Peterson vs Garcia, but it wasn't a fight that was available. It just wasn't available. It couldn't be made and so Salka, obviously, he's well deserving. He has a Rocky-like story and so we put on a tremendous card from top to bottom, with Daniel Jacobs and with Peterson and with all these big name fighters. This is a perfect fit for the Barclays Center and it's like Danny Garcia said, you have two fighters that are going to be ready to come August 9 and the leather will be flying and it's going to be a tremendous show.
Q: Danny, is there any chance of you bringing the title home to Philadelphia one day?
D. Garcia: Actually that was a dream of mine to fight in Philadelphia on a world title. I don't think there's been a world title fight here in quite an amount of years. But it wasn't available at this time. We tried, it wasn't available. A lot of the venues were booked for the time, the fight that they were trying to schedule in that time period, so we went with Barclays Center.
Barclays Center is a great place. I love it. It feels down home to me. It's a good place for the people in Philadelphia, if they want to go out, they feel like they want to get out of the city, they just take a two-hour drive to New York, watch boxing and go out in New York after the fight.
So, it's a good getaway for the people in Philadelphia and a lot of people from Philly are going to be there and it's going to be like I'm fighting in Philly anyway.