THERE’S a fascinating fight this weekend in Brooklyn, where Danny Garcia and Lamont Peterson collide over 12 rounds on a show televised by free-to-air network NBC in the USA and by BoxNation in the UK.
It could turn out to be one of the fights of the year. Garcia holds the WBC and WBA Super belts at light-welterweight while Peterson is the reigning IBF champion in that division. Both have skills and power, and both think they are good enough to figure in even bigger and better fights down the line.
So what’s the problem? The weight the fight is made at, that’s what. This is a catchweight match made at 143lbs – 3lbs above light-welter and 4lbs below welter. That protects the boxers’ belts, so whoever loses has something to go back to (it could always be a draw, of course).
You could regard that as smart negotiating by the fighters’ representatives; you could also regard it as cheating the fans. After all, doesn’t that take something away from a boxer’s motivation, knowing he is not putting it all on the line in a fight – that even if loses, all is not lost?
If that sounds harsh, remember that these are top fighters receiving top dollar and international media exposure for their efforts. To be rewarded big, you must risk big and one is left wondering if this catchweight isn’t more about protecting the interests of the powerful Al Haymon, who is behind the Brooklyn show; Saturday’s loser can still defend his title(s) on a future Haymon bill, albeit on a less exalted platform and for less money.
Of course, catchweight fights are nothing new and in that sense the Brooklyn showdown recalls a fight that occurred almost 38 years ago, when Mexican stars Carlos Zarate and Alfonso Zamora clashed at the Inglewood Forum.
Each held a version of the world bantamweight title, Zarate the WBC and Zamora the WBA. (This was in the days when those were the only two belts available). Both had a 100 per cent record, Zarate at 45-0 and Zamora at 29-0. Carlos was tall and the better technician, while Alfonso was a stocky slugger.
A clash between the two was a natural but while the match was eventually made, for some reason it wasn’t a title unification, only a 10-rounder over the 118lbs limit. Zarate came in at 119lbs to Zamora’s 119 3/4lbs and Zarate dominated for a fourth-round stoppage. Defeat proved shattering for Alfonso, who would never again win a world title fight, but Carlos remained one of the sport’s best fighters for several years. If history repeats itself, which of Garcia and Peterson will turn out to be Zarate, and which Zamora?