By: Sean Crose
Showmanship can get a fighter far, particularly in this over the top era. A fighter, however, ultimately has to be more than a showman. A fighter has fight well if he or she doesn’t wish to simply remain a novelty act. Anyone can talk the talk, and indeed some talk it better than others. Boxing, though, is a sport where one has to walk the walk as well. As the adage goes, don’t let your mouth write checks that your ass can’t cash. Say what one will about Ryan Garcia this past weekend, but he backed up all his bluster and hype with a powerful performance over the skilled Luke Campbell. Winning a fight isn’t the same as getting off the mat to win a fight. And Garcia literally had to get off the mat to win on Saturday.
That sort of thing says something about a person, particularly
one who fights on a professional level. It says that the person not only has heart
but has the wherewithal to survive the most difficult moments. “A champion,” iconic fighter Jack Dempsey once
said, “is someone who gets up when he can’t.” Say what one will about Garcia,
but the young man seems to have the same kind of outlook Dempsey had as heavyweight
champion a century ago. There’s another quote from Dempsey, though, that’s also
germane to the present time. “I was a pretty good fighter,” he once said, “but
it was the writers who made me great.”
With all due respect to the memory of Dempsey, the man was full of it. Any YouTube click of the guy in his prime indicates he was great indeed, a combination of offense and defense that very much inspired a prime Tyson in the 80’s. Yet Dempsey here indicates a timeless problem for fighters – media adoration. It can be a wonderful thing, but one had better back it up. A look at Garcia and other fighters who prove they have go as well as show indicates there’s a surefire way for a brash individual to keep from looking foolish in the ring – and that’s taking the fight game seriously.
Garcia, for instance, knew
he had to get a trainer of Eddy Reynoso’s caliber in order to keep growing as an
athlete. A fighter similar to Garcia might not have such insight due to overconfidence.
The best fighters always have their feet grounded, no matter how showy they can
be at times. Floyd Mayweather, for instance, may love to flaunt his wealth, but
there’s probably more video footage of him working his ass off in the gym than
there is of him riding around in custom made motor vehicles. Same for the boisterous
Tyson Fury. When he’s not flapping his gums, one can usually find videos of the
heavyweight kingpin online training. Sure enough, there was one of Fury running
through the freezing pre-dawn cold this past Christmas morning. The man knows
there has to be a lot of go to back up all that show.
Garcia may have his detractors,
and perhaps that’s understandable. The fight game isn’t easy for him, though.
It’s something he has to struggle in order to master. The same goes for those
who have already achieved a degree of greatness.