Danny Garcia might not be the most polarizing boxer of the 21st century, but he certainly ranks near the top. For whatever reason, fans have very definitive opinions of the undefeated, two-division world champion: Simply put, they either love him or loathe him.
That Danny Garcia has become the target of the latter group has always been a bit perplexing, given that all the 28-year-old Philadelphia native has done in his last 12 fights is face—and defeat—nine current or former champions.
To his credit, though, Garcia (32-0, 18 KOs) long ago learned how to tune out his critics and focus on the task at hand, all the while remaining quite comfortable in his seriously thick skin. And if you don’t think that’s true, well, what other world-class boxer would admit to admiring a certain polarizing, Canadian-born pop star?
Read on to see who that is as we go 12 rounds with Danny Garcia.
Who are your boxing heroes?
I looked up to a lot of fighters, like Felix Trinidad and Prince Naseem Hamed. They were entertaining fighters who brought excitement into the ring and who always gave their fans great knockouts and performances.
Who is the one fighter in history you wish you could have fought?
I would love to get into the ring with Floyd Mayweather; I think that would bring the best out of me. I’m a young, talented champion, and he’s the legend who has done a lot for the sport and made a lot of money. I’m a great fighter, and Floyd recognizes that I’m a great fighter and [I think he] would like to get into the ring with a great Philadelphia fighter.
Remember, the first man to beat Muhammad Ali was a Philly fighter, Joe Frazier. That’s what we do. We’re known to step up in the biggest times of our career and get the victories.
Finish this sentence: If not for boxing, I would …
… probably have gone to college to study architecture. When I was a kid, I used to always build things, and I was always good with my hands.
What’s the public’s biggest misconception about boxers?
I don’t think they understand how hard a fighter has to train or have an appreciation for the heart that it takes to step into the ring and fight in front of so many people. A lot of people overlook the struggles and trials and tribulation that it takes to get to this level in general.
I’ve accomplished so much, and yet I might get criticized the most. But I’ve been in big fights where people have counted me out and always have something [critical] to say, no matter who I fight. At the end of the day, my job is to go in there and get the victory and not worry about what people say.
“ I would love to get into the ring with Floyd Mayweather; I think that would bring the best out of me. ” Danny Garcia
What is your favorite punch to throw?
You know, it's crazy, but I really don't have a favorite punch. A lot of people think it's my left hook because it knocks people out, but I just try to put my punches together, try to throw combinations, pick my shots and not waste any punches.
I have an arsenal of punches, so I just like to set traps and land the big punch.
What fighter has hit you hardest, and what were the circumstances?
Lucas Matthysse is probably the guy who hit me the hardest. He caught me with a clean shot in the 11th round that knocked the mouthpiece out of my mouth. It didn’t stun me or hurt me. But it was a clean, hard shot—a straight right hand that hit me on my jaw.
It didn’t stagger me, but by taking that punch, I showed that I was a true champion. Then I came back and dropped him in that round and won the fight.
Who is the best fighter you’ve ever sparred against but never fought?
When I was younger, I sparred with Eric “The Outlaw” Hunter from Philly. I was fighting at 112, and he was fighting at 119, and he was older than me. He was getting ready for the Olympic trials.
I used to hate sparring that dude. He was a good, crafty fighter with a strong right hand. He didn’t care how young you were; he was just in there to put it on you. I learned a lot from that situation.
What is the one meal that’s the toughest to give up while training for a fight?
Probably not a meal, but junk food, like doughnuts or something. I have a bad habit of eating doughnuts, my favorites being a glazed doughnut or those with the creamy filling.
If Hollywood made a movie about your life, what actor would you want to portray you?
It would have to be a serious-yet-funny guy, but I’m not too sure [who]. It might not even have to be a famous guy, just somebody who fits the script.
Who was your first celebrity crush?
That would have to be Christina Milian. When I was younger—about 14 or 15—I used to love her from that movie, Love Don’t Cost a Thing with Nick Cannon. I’ve always liked her from there.
What animal in the wild best aligns with your personality in the ring?
The white tiger. The white tiger is a killer—just like me, which is why I enter the ring with that animal print.
Who is the one artist that fans would be surprised to find on your playlist?
Justin Bieber. He’s good. I like J.B.
What’s the one thing in the world you wish you could change?
All the hate. Nobody was born into this world with hate—when you’re a baby, all you know how to do is smile and to love people. But when you get older, you get taught to hate. So I wish people would learn to express love and respect for one another and not to teach hate.
“12 Rounds With …” is published Wednesdays at PremierBoxingChampions.com. Next week: 175-pound world champion Adonis Stevenson.