One of Jack London's short stories is entitled The Mexican. It concerns a desperately poor youth who slips across the U.S. border to fight in cheap smokers to buy guns for the revolution. He always wins, even against his betters, because his way of life dictates he dare not lose.
At the age of five Jorge Garcia Gonzalez, a/k/a Rocky Garcia, was on the streets of Mexico City, shining shoes and peddling papers. After he crossed the border, he slept in the backseat of a battered Camaro for 10 days because he couldn't pay the rent in Placentia, Calif., where he was working in a bakery. He went on to win 23 of 24 professional bouts, never being knocked down, before taking a fight with a superb champion for $35,000, nine times more than any pf his prior purses.
But the ending for Garcia diverged from London's story line. Garcia's ending was Salvador Sanchez. The WBC featherweight champion with an illustrious 42-1-1 record, Sanchez pounded out a unanimous decision over Garcia last Saturday night at Dallas' Reunion Arena.
It wasn't the rout that had been predicted, just the workmanlike culmination of a workaholic's week, in which Sanchez had handed out 1,000 photographs of himself at the Cinco de Mayo festival, and worked; visited Tom Landry, and worked; turned down the chance to throw out the first ball at a Rangers game, and worked.
"He's strangely different," WBC President Jos� Sulaim�n said of Sanchez. "Like Ali, not a great puncher, but a train could not knock him down."
"The reason I fight is to beat three champions: Danny Lopez, Wilfredo Gomez and Alexis Arguello," Sanchez said. "Two have been done," said Eddie Maf�z, Sanchez' translator. And so they have—Lopez by a knockout in 1980, Gomez by a knockout last August.
Now came Rocky Garcia, and he didn't go easily. Garcia's 15-round survival was the result not so much of any largess on Sanchez' part as Garcia's determination to walk out of the ring with respectability. That he did.
The first six rounds were strictly fox-and-hounds, with Sanchez boring straight ahead. Sanchez threw few jabs, merely tracers lighting the way for his big right hand. He began blasting Garcia with rights in the second round, scoring heavily with a bolo to Garcia's head. But Garcia's chin held firm. Many of Sanchez' heaviest punches caught the challenger high on the head.
Still, with the added effect of Sanchez' body attack, Garcia absorbed endless punishment. But his skin served him. He didn't cut until late in the fight, and then it was a small one, below the left eye, and stayed that way.
"You've got to enjoy it," said WBC heavyweight champ Larry Holmes, who had fought a four-round exhibition earlier in the evening to sharpen himself for next month's title bout with Gerry Cooney. "You've got to enjoy the shots you take and you've got to love landing."