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PBC on Spike preview: Danny Garcia vs Samuel Vargas

Danny Garcia headlines, but it’s the undercard that has the fights to watch.

Scott Christ is the managing editor of Bad Left Hook and has been covering boxing for SB Nation since 2006.

Danny Garcia vs Samuel Vargas

Danny Garcia

Danny Garcia v Robert Guerrero Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

Record: 32-0 (18 KO) ... Streak: W32 ... Last 5: 5-0 ... Last 10: 10-0 ... Stance: Orthodox ... Height/Reach: 5'8½" / 68½" ... Age: 28

Notes: Danny Garcia has always struggled to gain respect from the boxing media, or at least so he and his team tell themselves. In reality, he was seen as the top guy at 140, particularly after beating Lucas Matthysse in 2013. Sadly, that’s the last time he took a real risk.

Since then, he’s beaten Mauricio Herrera (controversially), Rod Salka, Lamont Peterson (controversially), Paulie Malignaggi, and Robert Guerrero. He beat Guerrero clean, but did have to grind that victory out, and Guerrero had barely scraped past Aron Martinez in his previous fight, and has since lost to David Peralta. Garcia may have the WBC 147-pound title -- which is not on the line in this fight -- but he’s still proven very little as a top welterweight.

Garcia is a good fighter, at worst. As a young man, he has the game of a crafty old veteran, which is not a bad thing at all. He’s smart in the ring. He’s a very modern fighter, a guy who picks and chooses to an extreme degree. Whether it’s actually the case or not, one can easily get the impression that there is very little competitive fire in Garcia. He’s good at his job, so he does well anyway, but will he really be able to wade through fire the next time he actually faces any? Is he a guy who peaks early, loses the hunger he had on the way up, and burns out young?

Samuel Vargas

Errol Spence Jr v Samuel Vargas Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

Record: 25-2-1 (13 KO) ... Streak: W5 ... Last 5: 5-0 ... Last 10: 9-1 ... Stance: Orthodox ... Height/Reach: 5'9" / 72" ... Age: 27

Notes: BoxRec have Vargas ranked No. 39 in the world at 154 pounds, which might be generous. His recent five fight win streak is against mediocre opposition, and comes after he got waxed by Errol Spence.

This is not really meaning to disparage Vargas, by the way. He’s what he is, a solid club fighter who could be providing a good stepping stone for prospects like Spence. And certainly he has greater designs than that, and of course he should have taken this fight when it was offered to him. It’s a huge opportunity if he can shock the world. But it’s a bad matchup.

Matchup Grade: F. "Well as a tune-up..." That’s great and all, but Danny Garcia doesn’t need this light of a tune-up. Vargas is not even a legitimate fringe contender. Fine, it’s a tune-up and we (in theory) get Garcia-Thurman next. The fight still sucks, though, and it’s not remotely interesting. Even if Garcia gets cut or something, the Thurman fight isn’t coming until March 4, 2017. An entire season and a half or so will pass by then.

Jarrett Hurd vs Jo Jo Dan

Jarrett Hurd

Jarrett Hurd v Oscar Molina Photo by Ed Mulholland/Getty Images

Record: 18-0 (12 KO) ... Streak: W9 ... Last 5: 5-0 ... Last 10: 10-0 ... Stance: Orthodox ... Height/Reach: 6'1" / 76½"" ... Age: 26

Notes: Jarrett Hurd has sort of burst onto the scene as a legitimate top prospect in the 154-pound division, looking terrific in the last year in wins over Frank Galarza and Oscar Molina, who were also unbeaten prospects at the time.

Hurd, a Maryland native, has height and reach, good power, skills — he’s really got just about everything you need, or at least what we’ve seen of him so far. But is he a special fighter? That remains to be seen. The 154-pound division is filled with good fighters either in their prime or approaching it -- Erislandy Lara, the Charlos, Demetrius Andrade, Julian Williams, Vanes Martirosyan, Austin Trout, Tony Harrison, Liam Smith, et cetera, but it is lacking in special fighters. (I know some of you will say Lara is a special fighter, but I think he is a fine case of "very good, not quite truly great." If any of those names have "special" potential, I think it’s Andrade, who kinda can’t get out of his own way.)

PBC has two prospects on the way up that should enter that fray in 2017: Hurd and 21-year-old Erickson Lubin. It’s a crowded and interesting division with a lot of good potential matchups that should be competitive. Hurd is a guy you want to see, as he’s knocking on the door.

Jo Jo Dan

Eye of the Tiger Management

Record: 35-3 (18 KO) ... Streak: W1 ... Last 5: 4-1 ... Last 10: 8-2 ... Stance: Southpaw ... Height/Reach: 5'9½" / 70½" ... Age: 35

Notes: Welterweight veteran Jo Jo Dan, a Romanian based in Montreal, hasn’t fought in a little over a year, since making a move up in weight to defeat shot veteran Rafal Jackiewicz in Toronto. Prior to that, he was blown out in an undeserved world title shot against Kell Brook.

Dan has always been a solid C+, B- type of fighter at his best. The two losses he has to Selçuk Aydin in Turkey were both controversial to some degree, and his only other loss was to Brook. At the same time, his best wins have come against a shot Steve Forbes and two victories against Kevin Bizier. He’s here as a stepping stone for Hurd, make no mistake about that, and what I saw of Dan against Brook tells me he won’t be able to take Hurd’s power for too long. He’s getting older and he’s entered the gatekeeper phase of his career.

Matchup Grade: C-. A passing grade, but just about average at best. Hurd still has steps to take, but I’m not sure an undersized Jo Jo Dan is much of a step up for him. Oscar Molina and Frank Galarza were bigger threats, probably, and this should be an easy highlight reel sort of win for the prospect.

Javier Fortuna vs Omar Douglas

Javier Fortuna

WBA World Boxing Championship Photo by Lintao Zhang/Getty Images

Record: 30-1-1 (22 KO) ... Streak: W1 ... Last 5: 4-1 ... Last 10: 8-1-1 ... Stance: Southpaw ... Height/Reach: 5'6" / 68½" ... Age: 27

Notes: Javier Fortuna is one of the more frustrating guys in recent memory. A Sampson Lewkowicz "discovery," the Dominican southpaw has in some fights looked pretty damn great.

Five years ago, he had a three fight stretch where he beat tough Mexican Mickey Roman, Yuandale Evans, and Cristobal Cruz, a veteran and former world titleholder. He decisioned Roman, stopped Cruz in two, and put Evans away in one round, pretty much ending his career before it ever really got started. (Evans didn’t fight again for three years, and hasn’t fought since November 2015.) Fortuna also had a quality win in May 2015 over Bryan Vasquez, a solid contender, and wiped out Abner Cotto in late 2014.

But there are other nights where he’s looked very normal. After the wins over Roman, Evans, and Cruz, he struggled to do much at all with Patrick Hyland, an overmatched hype job from Ireland who had no real business going all 12 with Fortuna, let alone being somewhat competitive. He scraped to a draw with Luis Franco in 2013. And this past June, he was stopped in 11 rounds by Jason Sosa.

Which is the real Javier Fortuna? I always find that type of question about any fighter interesting, because it ignores the reality most of the time. Both of them are the real Javier Fortuna. The real Javier Fortuna is an inconsistent wild card of a fighter. It’s not even that he fights up or down to competition. Some nights he "has it," some nights he doesn’t. Whether it’s a focus issue, a physical issue, or something else, it’s who he is.

Omar Douglas

Premier Boxing Champions

Record: 17-0 (12 KO) ... Streak: W17 ... Last 5: 5-0 ... Last 10: 10-0 ... Stance: Orthodox ... Height/Reach: 5'7" / 72" ... Age: 25

Notes: Douglas isn’t a great fighter or great prospect, but he’s a guy who can get the job done. His win over Frank De Alba 11 months ago was closer than he would have liked, and affirmed that he was not an A-list prospect. But his knockout of Alexei Collado in June showed us a bit more of what he can do.

Christopher Trottier wrote about this matchup the other day, and noted that Douglas’ left hook, his money punch, is the exact punch that Jason Sosa used to beat Fortuna. As Christopher also noted, the main problem for Douglas in this matchup is that he’s very hittable, and Fortuna, at his best, is a good puncher, and in my view, simply a better fighter. At his best. Who knows if that’s what we’ll get?

Matchup Grade: B-. This is a solid matchup, a test for Douglas, and a test of Fortuna’s resolve. At times, Fortuna has looked like a top fighter. At other times, he has looked like an overhyped prospect who never quite puts it all together.

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