BROOKLYN (July 31, 2014) – Rod Salka, Edgar Santana and Jarrod Fletcher are all, understandably, being referred to as underdogs heading into their respective fights Saturday, Aug. 9 at Barclays Center in Brooklyn. But the overlooked fighters are all relishing in their opportunity to pull off the upset and shock the world, live on SHOWTIME CHAMPIONSHIP BOXING®.
In the main event on SHOWTIME, Unified Super Lightweight World Champion Danny “Swift” Garcia will face the hungry “Lightning” Rod Salka in a 10-round welterweight bout. In the co-feature, IBF Junior Welterweight World Champion Lamont Peterson will risk his title against veteran contender Edgar Santana in a 12-round match. In the opening fight of the telecast, Brooklyn’s own Daniel Jacobs will take on once-beaten Australian Jarrod Fletcher for the vacant WBA Middleweight World Title.
Will these dogs have any bite? Check out SHOWTIME boxing expert Steve Farhood’s list of top 10 underdogs who pulled off extraordinary upsets and read what each aforementioned fighter has to say as they head into the biggest fights of their careers:
1. Buster Douglas KO 10 Mike Tyson, February 11, 1990, Tokyo (Wins WBA, WBC, IBF Heavyweight Titles) – Tyson is 37-0, Douglas is a 42-1 underdog in at least one Las Vegas sports book; not even Nostradamus saw this coming.
2. Evander Holyfield KO 11 Mike Tyson, November 9, 1996, Las Vegas (Wins WBA Heavyweight Title) – Tyson opens as 24-1 favorite; not first or last time “Real Deal” is overlooked.
3. Randy Turpin W 15 Sugar Ray Robinson, July 10, 1951, London (Wins world middleweight title) – Robinson went in with a ridiculous record of 128-1-2, and hasn’t lost since 1943.
4. Frankie Randall W 12 Julio Cesar Chavez, January 29, 1994, Las Vegas (Wins WBC Super Lightweight Title) – “J.C. Superstar,” 89-0-1, suffers first knockdown and first loss in same bout.
5. Hasim Rahman KO 5 Lennox Lewis, April 22, 2001, Gauteng, South Africa (Wins WBC & IBF Heavyweight Titles) – Rahman does it with one legendary punch vs. ill-prepared Lewis.
6. Billy Backus KO 4 Jose Napoles, December 3, 1970, Syracuse, NY (Wins world welterweight title) – New York Times lists local challenger, who has 10 losses, as 9-1 underdog; aging Napoles stopped on cuts.
7. Leon Spinks W 15 Muhammad Ali, February 15, 1978, Las Vegas (Wins world heavyweight title) – Almost beyond belief: In only ninth pro bout, Olympic gold medalist Spinks shocks “The Greatest.”
8. Corrie Sanders KO 2 Wladimir Klitschko, March 8, 2003, Niedersachsen, Germany (Wins WBO Heavyweight Title) – Southpaw from South Africa crushes Wlad with huge left hands.
9. (tie) Cassius Clay KO 7 Sonny Liston, February 25, 1964, Miami (Wins world heavyweight title)
Muhammad Ali KO 8 George Foreman, October 30, 1974, Kinshasa, Zaire (Regains world heavyweight title) – Ali is at least 7-1 underdog in both bouts; his handlers, in fear of his fate vs. Big George, had reportedly mapped out route from stadium to hospital.
10. Kirkland Laing W 10 Roberto Duran, September 4, 1982, Detroit (junior middleweight bout) – A 7-1 underdog, the UK’s Laing surprises Duran, 74-3 at the time.
“I’ve been an underdog the entire time I’ve been a professional. I’d have to be living under a rock to not think I’m an underdog. But this is just another fight that I have to win. I know I’m the underdog, but I’ve never looked at it that way. I’ve always had a chip on my shoulder. And I stuck around because people told me I couldn’t succeed.
“I don’t want to look back when I’m 60 or 70-years-old and have any regrets or know I didn’t give it my all. This could be my only opportunity like this and I can’t let it slip away.
“If I needed anything to motivate me it would have been six years ago when I was promoting my own four-round fights, when I was fighting in local shows trying to draw my own fans. Each fight now is its own motivator; each one is the biggest fight of my life.
“Critics would say, ‘He’ll never be more than a four-round fighter, he’ll never be a contender, he’ll never beat anyone good.’ Then I fought on SHOWTIME and I beat Alexei Collado. Now they say, ‘He doesn’t stand a chance against Danny Garcia.’ They were wrong before and they are wrong again.”
“People see me as the underdog, the guy without a chance, which I don’t mind. We are all underdogs in one way or another. It’s up to me to change that, and the only way to do that is beat Lamont Peterson.
“People have been underestimating me my whole life. It has definitely motivated me.
“When people say you can’t win, you can’t beat him, you don’t deserve a shot, and it’s alright. My focus is on working hard. I have to perform that night and to show everyone what I’m capable of doing. I don’t care what people say. People will still talk trash about me after I knock him out. But that’s not my problem. All I know is they made a big mistake in choosing me as an opponent.
“This would instantly change everything for me. You’re talking about a fighter who many people have forgotten about. But I’m back, I think I’ve paid my dues, I’ve worked hard, I’ve sacrificed a lot. This is meant to be. I truly believe that this is meant to be.
“For some reason, I just have that feeling inside, I can almost taste it. This is my time. I’m here for a reason and I’m going to take advantage of this. It’s happening for a reason and I’m going to leave it all on the line.
“This shot makes everything I’ve been through in my career and personal life worth it. I’ve been around, ups and downs, but I still kept pushing. I was very optimistic throughout my career. I always told myself that if I kept pushing myself that my time would come. And that time is finally here.”
“I like having the underdog role. I’ve been the massive dog before –no one thought I would win against Max Bursak earlier this year in Monaco – and it’s the same here in his (Jacobs’) own back yard. I look forward to the opportunity. It doesn’t get any bigger than this.
“The fans in the U.S. might not know who I am, but I’m just focused on my preparation. People can think what they want. I’ve come here to win. I didn’t travel all the way here and spend months in the gym just to get a paycheck. I’m not just an opponent. I came here to take that title back to my fans in Australia.
“It would be life changer. Winning the title would make life a lot easier with the young kids, my wife and family. It would financially set me up and put me up top. Everything would come easier. Winning a world title has been a dream of mine since I was a kid and it will come true next week.
“Once that bell goes it doesn’t matter who the favored fighter is, or what city or arena we are fighting in. It could be in a phone box in Australia and it wouldn’t matter to me. We’ve already put in all the hard work. All those guys cheering against me just make me hungrier.
“I’m just going to let my fists do the talking in the ring. I’ve had a great preparation. This has been a dream of mine and it’s about to come true. This is going to be the start of something big for me.”