NEW YORK -- In a night of mismatches, junior welterweight champion Danny Garcia and titleholder Lamont Peterson destroyed overmatched opponents in knockout fashion Saturday night at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn to set up a possible showdown later this year.
Garcia obliterated lightweight Rod Salka, who is not even ranked in the top 70 of that weight class, in the second round, knocking him cold with a brutal left hook in the second round.
The fight was originally announced as a world title defense for Garcia, but Salka was such a low-level opponent with such a weak resume that the two sanctioning bodies that recognize Garcia as champion would not approve him as a title challenger, so the fight was downgraded to a nontitle bout at 142 pounds.
Peterson also did his part, taking apart journeyman Edgar Santana for a one-sided 10th-round knockout to retain his version of the 140-pound title for the third time in front of a thin crowd of 7,012.
"We've talked about it," Golden Boy Promotions vice president Eric Gomez said of a potential Garcia-Peterson showdown. "[Garcia is] available and he's willing to fight him. Lamont said he wants to fight Danny. It's a fight we're going to talk about [for] this year, early next year, whatever."
Garcia (29-0, 17 KOs), 26, of Philadelphia, just walked through Salka, who talked a good game -- saying he would shock the world -- but was totally overmatched.
Garcia had an easy first round and then destroyed him in the second, knocking Salka down three times.
A right hand dropped Salka for the first time but he survived. Garcia continued to fire and badly hurt him with another right hand as Salka clinched to avoid going down again. But Garcia landed yet another ferocious right hand and Salka slumped to his knees for the second knockdown.
It was target practice for Garcia, as every punch appeared to rock Salka (19-4, 3 KOs), 31, of Bunola, Pennsylvania,
Finally, Garcia, whose best punch is his left hook, landed one on Salka's chin and he went down hard. Referee Steve Willis immediately waved off the fight at 2 minutes, 31 seconds, just as Salka's corner was throwing in a white towel to surrender.
"I came here and did what I was supposed to do," said Garcia, who rebounded from a controversial majority decision win against Mauricio Herrera on March 15 in Puerto Rico. "Puerto Rico was an off night for me. This was Danny Garcia at his best. Anyone would have gotten knocked out tonight."
So what about Garcia fighting Peterson next?
"I want to fight anybody my management (Al Haymon, who also handles Peterson) puts in front of me. My job is to fight," Garcia said. "I came here and I got the win. I would have beaten anybody. I'll fight anybody."
After dispatching Santana, Peterson was asked about fighting Garcia next.
"I hope so. I wanted to do it but at the end of the day it has to make sense, so I'm going to stay busy and shake out a few problems I had tonight," said Peterson, who called for a unification fight with Garcia after a January victory against Dierry Jean.
Garcia, who watched Peterson's fight on a monitor in his dressing room while getting warmed up for Salka, was not overly impressed.
"I don't think he still wants to fight me after watching my performance," Garcia said. "We fought similar kinds of opponents and I made a statement. He was supposed to come here and make more of a statement. I'm gonna keep entertaining and keep busy but we can fight."
Said Angel Garcia, Danny's father and trainer: "Danny did what he was supposed to do. Salka came here to fight, but that's what Danny's supposed to do with these kinds of guys. I'm not talking about Salka, I'm talking about anyone."
According to CompuBox statistics, Garcia, who made $700,000, landed 50 of 117 punches (43 percent) while Salka, whose purse was $125,000, could only land 10 of 69 blows (14 percent).
"It wasn't a tougher fight than I expected. I got caught with a shot, what am I gonna do," Salka said.
Peterson (33-2-1, 17 KOs), 30, of Washington, D.C., looked good in his assignment against Santana, 35, of New York, who was facing by far the best opponent of his career and had never done anything to warrant a crack at a world title. Peterson's jab was sharp and he hammered Santana (29-5, 20 KOs) to the body throughout the fight.
"The win means a lot to me but overall I wasn't that impressed with him," Peterson said. "Anyone I fight could hurt me but I feel really good. I got two victories out of this year and hopefully I can get another one. He was tough and I got a good few rounds in."
Peterson had a huge fifth round, landing combinations with Santana pinned on the ropes and spending most of the round pounding him to the body and landing left uppercuts.
In the 10th round, Peterson continued to lay a beating on Santana and referee Pete Santiago finally stepped in to call it off on advice of the ringside doctor at 2 minutes, 48 seconds.
It was a total whitewash as Santana showed grit but little ability to do anything against Peterson.
"He came in with a good game plan," Santana said. "He's tougher than I expected. His style frustrated me."
For the fight, Peterson, who earned $400,000, landed 281 of 582 punches (48 percent) while Santana, who made $75,000, was limited to landing just 94 of 406 (23 percent). Peterson's body punching was impressive, as he landed 97 of the 219 power shots he threw.
"I had to go as many rounds as I could to get him out. I was able to show a lot of dimensions of my game," Peterson said. "I should have ended it earlier but I am not disappointed."
Ideally, Garcia-Peterson will be up next or there will be disappointment, at least for many boxing fans.