May be the jnr. welter prodigy Julio “Baby Face” Garcia ate some bad peas before his match with unheralded Troy Browning? Indeed, Friday Night Fight commentators Teddy Atlas and Joe Tessitore spent the majority of the 10-round main event at Miami’s Mahai Temple wondering what Julio’s problem was. Did he have a virus? An undisclosed injury? Trouble making weight? Or is he perhaps an unfocused 20-year-old who’d rather be kickin’ it with his homies and playing Halo 2?
After all, the kid from Ciudad Acuna, Mexico turned pro just a few days after his 15th birthday. Five years later, he had accumulated an astonishing 40-2 (34) record—his two losses disputed decisions—going in. The Garcia we’ve seen on ESPN2, FSN, (and in my case) a club show in the Bronx and on a John Duddy undercard, looked like a future world-beater. He had power, good hand speed, size and, for obvious reasons, a rare comfort in the ring for such a young man. He was so relaxed, poised, and had a strictly business attitude you had to love. Of his last 11 opponents—some of who were quite decent—all of them were KO’d and only one made in past the third round.
But a kid no one recognized showed up this time out. In the biggest upset of year on FNF—and maybe overall thus far in ‘07?—Browing won a fair MD. Scores were 95-95, 96-94, 97-93.
The 40-year-old Browning is now 20-0-1 (8), but, until facing Garcia, he has been in with extremely soft competition. With all do respect, we’re not looking at some age-defying freak like B-Hop. He is a pedestrian boxer and can’t punch. This wasn’t a case of what Browning did, but what Garcia didn’t do; namely act like he wanted to win. If this were a light sparring session—and that’s exactly how Julio treated it—you’d still expect his trainer to exhort, “Pick it up! Show me something.” Who would’ve thought that’d be the proper advice for the boxer with the 20-year age advantage!?
From the opening bell Garcia yawned his way through each three-minute frame. He had a strange arrogance about him. Sometimes he’d stick out his face and eat punches. He’d do nothing in return except disparage their apparent lack of force. Other times he’d trap Browning in a corner, throw a combination, and just stop. Browning would scurry to ring-center and Garcia would begin following him with all the alacrity of a mummy. On it went.
Browing did what he had to do. He jabbed and moved and stayed busy. When Garcia dropped his hands and dared him to chuck, he complied. Yeah, he couldn’t dent a marshmallow, but he landed clean and that counts for something.
When I first saw Garcia in 2005 he was a rangy, broad-shouldered jnr. welter. He skipped the next division and went straight to jnr. middle. He is much more solidly built than Julio Cesar Chavez, Jnr., and might end up at 168 when he reaches his physical prime. Nothing in his past would have you question his power, or his work ethic. But based on this recent non-effort, everything can rightfully be called into question.
Against Browning he planted mostly left hooks to the body. Unlike Ricky Hatton’s liver shot on Saturday, they didn’t appear to bother his opponent. While Garcia’s not soft, neither is he that lean. I wonder if he needs to come in at 156¼?
I’m willing to give “Baby Face” a pass. I’d like to see him again, if he believes that he needs to redeem himself. But this outing was a bad sign. If Benjamin Franklin were training “Baby Face,” he might break out this quote of his: “Hide not your talents. They for use were made. What’s a sundial in the shade?”
The Colombian welter Richard Gutierrez would be a tough outing for anyone. He gave Joshua Clottey all the Ghanaian could handle last year, and even controlled the second half of their 12-round battle. But I think he’s a guy who needs a challenge, and Luciano Perez—game as he was—couldn’t provide one.
Score of this UD were 98-91, 96-93 and 100-89. The last score was the most accurate one, in my opinion and that of the commentators.
Gurierrez is now 21-1 (13) and could just as easily be undefeated. Although I couldn’t find his name listed in the various sanctioning bodies’ top 10, that just affirms their ludicrousness. He is a worthy contender.
The last time Gutierrez was on ESPN he was more dynamic than he was on this night. He gave dangerous Teddy Reid a four-round beating that probably sent the vet into retirement. It looked like he could’ve put Perez away at various times, but for whatever reason he never seized the moment against the now 15-5-1 (13) journeyman.
Teddy Atlas made a great suggestion to the in-studio guest host, lightweight Nate Campbell (who did a fantastic job, by the way). How about making Richard Gutierrez v. Andre Berto sometime this year? I hope someone in a position to make that fight happen was listening. That’s a challenge the Colombian would probably be able to get up for.