The boxing landscape is littered with failed father-son combinations: Roy Jones Jr. and Roy Sr., Shane and Jack Mosley, Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Floyd Sr. "A lot of times fathers do not allow their sons to grow," Jack Mosley said in 2006. "They want to live their lives through their sons." The Garcias's relationship, however, seems solid, in part because of their personalities—as intense as Angel is, Danny is equally laid-back—and in part because Danny is spurred on by his father's faith in him. "I hate when I hear other trainers say if their guy wins," says Danny. "If you win? That's not my dad. When we talk about opponents, he says, 'F--- him, you are going to knock his a-- out.' "
Angel's faith in Danny was validated quickly. In 2005, Danny won the under-19 national amateur championship and an international title at an event in Finland. In March '06 he won the U.S. national title. Now 5' 8½", with a powerful left hook, Danny racked up a 107--13 record as an amateur, and he was one of the U.S.'s best pro prospects. But in'06, just as Danny was ready to break out, Angel was diagnosed with Stage IV throat cancer. If left untreated, Angel would be dead in six months, doctors said. "I just remember thinking, God, why me?" says Angel. "Was I being punished? Was I being made to pay for my sins?"
For a month Angel underwent chemo and was blasted with radiation, which burned the tumor. ("Like pressing an iron on your neck," he says.) Unable to eat, Angel was fed through a tube in his stomach. He withered to 130 pounds. Family members came to the house to see him and left thinking about his funeral.
He had tried for a few weeks to keep training Danny, but eventually he couldn't summon the energy to hold the pads. With his father bedridden, Danny's interest in boxing waned. He stayed in shape but refused to spar or enter tournaments. When other trainers approached Angel about taking over Danny's career, he told them to get lost. They would come to the gym and ask Danny if he wanted a new coach. He sent them away. "I felt like a pot of gold," says Danny. "People were fighting for me. All I said was that I wasn't going to fight unless my dad was O.K."
Angel was strong enough to get back to the gym in 2007, and two years later his cancer went into remission. "What kept me alive was this family," says Angel. "I couldn't leave them. I wouldn't."
WANT TO GET Angel Garcia angry? Criticize Danny Garcia. Tell him Danny can't win. That's what Kendall Holt did. In 2011, Holt, a former world champion, was matched against Danny. At a press conference, Holt sneered at a roomful of reporters and said that Danny's promoter, Golden Boy, had made a mistake making the fight. Angel seethed. At the next press event, Angel blew up, cursing at Holt and screaming at him on the dais. Danny loved it. "He's just being himself," says Danny. "He yells like that all the time. Why do I care if he does it at a press conference?"
In 2008, Danny, then 5--0, was scheduled to fight on the Oscar De La Hoya--Steve Forbes card. A few hours before the bout Angel was told that Danny's opponent had dropped out. Danny could still fight, but the new opponent would be Julio Gamboa, a southpaw (which Danny hadn't trained for) with 42 pro bouts. De La Hoya's trainer, Nacho Beristain, recommended that Angel decline the fight. But Angel accepted, and Danny demolished Gamboa in six rounds. "I told Danny that if he couldn't beat a guy like this, he couldn't be a world champion," says Angel. "And Danny didn't blink. He went out there and beat the crap out of him."
As Danny's fame has grown, Angel's antics have revved up. His press conferences are must-see TV. Last year, before Danny's fight with Amir Khan, Angel called Khan "overrated" and danced on the stage, mocking Khan's fighting style. A few months later, before Danny's rematch against Erik Morales, Angel got into a shouting match with Morales's father. In April, Angel sparked a fight at a Brooklyn sporting goods store with Zab Judah. Each time Angel would pop off, Danny would smile and clap—and go out and win. "It drives me crazy when people doubt Danny," says Angel. "He's undefeated. He's the world champion. What's he got to do to get respect?"
Ask Angel about Matthysse and his eyes widen. While Danny holds the titles, the buzz for the upcoming fight is all about Matthysse, the Argentine knockout artist (34--2 with 32 KOs) who has left a path of flattened bodies in his wake. Matthysse is the star, Matthysse is the next big thing, Matthysse is ... Angel? "He ain't nothing," says Angel. "He's supposed to be some killer? He's beaten a whole bunch of knuckleheads in South America. He thinks he is going to come in and throw that looping right hand that he has knocked all those bums out with? He's fighting the champ. You want to take that buckle, you better come with more than that."
As he listens to his father rant, Danny cracks a smile. If history holds, we know what will happen next.