Two of the finest 140-pounders ever face off in this mythical battle between Philadelphia natives.
Two Philadelphia natives.
Two of the best junior welterweights of their eras.
Five years into their careers, Meldrick Taylor – in 1990 - was 24-0-1 (14 KO’s) while Danny Garcia – 2012 – stood at 25-0 (16 KO’s). Both fighters were only months from facing their top rival; Julio Cesar Chavez for Taylor, and Lucas Matthysse for Garcia.
But how do they stack up against each other?
Taylor was born on October 19, 1966 and boxed professionally from 1984 until 2002. He was “around eight” when he first stepped into the Hennelly Boys Club on Frankfurt and Kensington, he told Sports Illustrated. Over the next few years, he amassed a 99-4 record as an amateur. Two months after graduating from Gratz High School, at the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles, a gold medal hung from his neck as he waved to the nation from the podium.
Taylor turned pro at Madison Square Garden on a show that included his Olympic teammates, Pernell Whitaker, Tyrell Biggs, Evander Holyfield, and Mark Breland. By the time he had 10 fights, he had beaten two contenders and a serial killer.
The contenders were Dwight Pratchett and Robin Blake. The serial killer was Roberto Medina, aka Juan, sometimes John Garcia – a career criminal who escaped a Colorado prison three years before his match against Taylor.
He might have gotten away from the authorities if he hadn’t been a boxer good enough to appear on cable television. Following a tip, and a photo of his tattoos, police arrested Medina while he made his way to the dressing room after losing a decision.
Taylor kept winning, eventually becoming a champion and positioning himself for a super fight against Julio Cesar Chavez in 1990.
Danny Garcia was ten when he started boxing at the Harrowgate Boxing Club in Philadelphia. An Olympic alternate for the 2008 Games, he amassed an amateur record of 107-13 which included a US championship.
Coming up as a pro, Garcia didn’t face any serial killers in the ring but, he did have to move out of his Philly neighborhood after his car was shot up, according to his father and trainer, Angel Garcia. His early career lacked the spotlight that Taylor’s came with. Instead, Garcia toiled on the undercards in matches that took place before most of the fans arrived.
Eventually, Garcia couldn’t be ignored. Contenders and former champions like Mike Arnauotis, Nate Campbell, and Kendall Holt found out what the world was about to discover: Danny Garcia could fight. Good enough to beat Erik Morales and Amir Khan in his first 25 bouts.
But could he beat Taylor? How do these two Philly sluggers match up?
Taylor could box coming forward or going back. Whatever the style, it was always accompanied by blinding combinations. His punches came from all angles, straight and wide. As he would go on to show in the latter stages of his career, he could get on his toes and slip under or to the side of punches, countering with stinging volleys. Though he seems more comfortable coming forward, he usually controlled the pace and distance of his fights.
Garcia tends to give opponents fewer “looks” in the ring, although he too can fight going forward or backward. Garcia likes to stalk his opponents, countering while studying their timing. He chooses his punches more carefully than Taylor, who often let his hands go as much as possible. But when Garcia decides to pull the trigger, his punches carry more authority. With about a three-inch advantage in both height and reach, and with a tighter guard than Taylor’s, he does possess the physical tools needed to offset Taylor’s speed advantage.
Taylor had some of the fastest hands in boxing history. Despite his nickname, Garcia has never been considered fast. But he possesses the antidote to speed – timing. “He has crazy timing,” says former champ, Paulie Malignaggi. “Incredible timing,” adds contender Yordenis Ugas.
While Garcia is “swift” enough to get his counter punches in, the edge is undeniably Taylor’s.
Taylor again has the edge in speed here. He could also stick-and-move when the situation warranted it. Garcia, on the other hand, looks like a plodder but, there’s something extremely efficient with his footwork and, unlike Taylor, he never has his head in front of his feet. Though Taylor has the faster feet and is lighter on them, this ain’t a foot race and Garcia has proven that he can catch up to quicker rivals.
If Garcia has a clear edge in any department, it’s punching power. Heavy-handed, with several highlight reel type of knockouts on his resume, Garcia can do heavy damage, especially with the left. Taylor could overwhelm an opponent with his flurries, but he rarely sent his foe to the canvas.
The edge here might go to Garcia. With a tight guard and conservative punch selection, Garcia is rarely wide-open. Taylor could be offensive-oriented and often held his left low – something Garcia’s timing might be able to take advantage of.
Taylor could be dropped, though most of the spills took place above 140. Garcia has been a rock. Neither fighter has a weakness here, but Garcia seems to have a slight edge.
Watching tape of an opponent can help a corner devise a plan. But the view changes when the bell rings. The view is limited when the opponent is standing in front of you and, with a fighter with fast hands like Taylor’s, you may not have the chance to execute your plan. Angel Garcia has shown that rare ability to adapt on the fly. Even in fights that didn’t go Garcia’s way, he always kept his composure and crept up late to make it close.
In the opposite corner, the great Georgie Benton was cool as ice. Co-trainer Lou Duva, however, often lost his cool in the corner. Though Duva and Benton were savants, and much more experienced, the father-son combo from Glendale Street works extremely well together.
Taylor gets the edge here, mostly because his style and skillset is much rarer. The fastest fighters Garcia has faced did not throw punches the same way that Taylor did. But one thing Garcia did do well was time their shots. If he can somehow do that against Taylor, he might be able to pull off what Glennwood Brown did when he faced Taylor. Brown scored two flash knockdowns and both times it was with the left hook – Garcia’s money punch.
Taylor, to his credit, recovered well and beat Brown, who has a similar style as Garcia. But Garcia is a level above Brown was and, unlike Brown, Garcia has shown better stamina, often finishing stronger than his opponents. But, if Taylor decides to avoid exchanges, he can outscore Garcia much like Amir Khan was able to for a couple of rounds. Perhaps he could box well enough and land enough punches to make it a close fight, like Mauricio Herrera did.
What happens when these two Philly warriors stand in front of each other?
Would Taylor’s speed guide him to victory?
Or will Garcia’s stoic pressure and heavy counters slow down Taylor enough for Swift to pull out the win?
Stop by our social media channels and let us know what you think.
For a closer look at Danny Garcia, check out his fighter page.
PBC Mythical Matchups is a monthly feature which pits a current PBC fighter against a legend from years past.