Garcia Ready To Reclaim Elite Status

Courtesy of Tom Casino
Courtesy of Tom Casino

Courtesy of Tom Casino

On Saturday night, July 30, 2016, twenty-eight year old professional boxer Mikey Garcia returned to the ring at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York, after a two and a half year layoff due to a contract dispute with his former promotional company, Top Rank. On the Showtime televised broadcast, Garcia knocked down former WBC World Featherweight Champion Elio Rojas four times, before referee Eddie Claudio called an end to the fight at 2:02 of Round 5. Following Saturday’s TKO win, Garcia’s record improved to 35-0, with 29 KOs, while Rojas’ record dropped to 24-3, with 14 KOs. Garcia-Rojas was scheduled for ten rounds in the junior welterweight division as the co-main event on the fight card promoted by DiBella Entertainment, in association with Cyclone Promotions, and presented by Premier Boxing Champions. In the main event, Carl Frampton won the WBA Super World Featherweight Title by defeating Leon Santa Cruz by majority decision.
Garcia, a former two-time WBO world champion in the featherweight and super featherweight divisions, last fought on January 25, 2014, when he successfully defended his WBO World Super Featherweight Title in a unanimous decision win against Juan Carlos Burgos on HBO. In October 2014, he vacated the WBO World Super Featherweight Title because he had plans to move up in weight. Mikey grew up in Oxnard, California, trains in Riverside at the Robert Garcia Boxing Academy, and resides in Moreno Valley.
He shared his thoughts about his winning performance against his opponent, Elio Rojas. “It took me a round or two to get my rhythm going. I had to find that right distance and range to connect my punches. I didn’t feel any ring rust. My defense and footwork were fine, my punches felt sharp and fast, and I felt good with my jab. My opponent used the ring well and demonstrated solid footwork. The plan was always to keep my distance and measure him. It was difficult to land that one big shot, because he kept moving and using his legs. He was smart and he wanted to win. Rojas had good reflexes, and he was able to see me coming in. He kept moving out of the way before I could land a big punch. I worked hard to close the distance, and when it happened, I let my hands go. Once I started landing hard shots, I knew that I hurt him, and eventually he went down.”
“After the first two knockdowns, Rojas didn’t look like he wanted to be in the ring anymore. The last time that I dropped him, the referee asked him if he wanted to continue. He kept looking down and finally said no. I made a statement by stopping Rojas in my return fight. Everybody at the Barclays Center was cheering, and it was great to get a victory in that manner. I easily made 138 lbs for this fight, and the contracted weight had been set previously at 140 lbs. I felt real comfortable on fight night, so making 135 lbs for my next fight won’t be any problem.”
Mikey discussed his career going forward.”
“During the past two years, I never went away from boxing. I’ve stayed busy helping other fighters get ready for their fights, and continued making improvements in the gym. I had good sparring prior to this fight, and I had adequate time to prepare. It’s very important that I get right back in the ring again soon. I didn’t have any cuts or abrasions, and my hands feel good. I’m ready for a world title fight right away at 135 lbs. I would love to fight for the WBO World Super Featherweight Title, which is currently held by Terry Flanagan of the UK. If the world title opportunity isn’t available, then I want to be back in the ring as soon as possible so that I can stay active. My next objective is to challenge for a title at 135 lbs, then perhaps unify titles in that division if the opportunity presents itself. After that, a move to 140 lbs would be likely, and I’ll seek world title opportunities there. I’ll target big names and the big fights that fans want to see. There are plenty of big challenges ahead of me. Because of the time away, it’s important to me that I’m moved on the fast track, so that I can face champion after champion. Now that the Rojas fight is over, I plan to resume conversations with boxing promoters. I’m still a free agent and am willing to negotiate a deal if it is in my best interest to do so.”
I want to thank Stephen Espinoza, Al Haymon, and Lou DiBella for giving me the opportunity to fight on Saturday night. I also want to thank my sponsors: B&B Plastics Inc., Asanti Wheels, and Everlast. It feels great to be back, but there’s so much more I want to accomplish. This is just the beginning, and I will do my best to give everyone memorable fights. The time off helped me regain that fire, and it motivated me to come back stronger. I’m thankful for all the fan support I’ve received. My performance on Saturday night hopefully reminded everyone what I’m capable of doing inside the ring, and it’s a great way to begin this next stage of my career.”
 

 

Skeete’s Style to Much For Other Welterweights

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By Seamus McNally

Penge punch picker Bradley Skeete (23–1, 10 KOs) intends adding a final bit of garnish to what has been a breakout 2015-16 campaign when he stars on the mammoth Cardiff Ice Arena bill on July 16th defending his WBO European belt for the fourth time against former European title challenger Alexandre Lepellely (19–6–1, 4 KOs) of France.

After a brace of impressive WBO European title defenses over Mark Thompson and Stevie Williams at the tail end of last year, the 6ft 1in stylist from Al Smith’s iBox gym in Bromley delivered a virtuoso display to relieve home hero Sam Eggington of his British and Commonwealth welterweight belts on a rival Matchroom show in Birmingham March 5th.

“It was definitely the finest performance of my career. I’d really put the work in, in the gym. My trainer Al (Smith) got the tactics ‘spot on’ and I stuck to the game plan. I possibly could’ve pressed it more to force a stoppage but that wasn’t part of the plan. Besides, Sam’s a very tough boy.”

And now the 28 year-old south Londoner is primly placed to push on towards major international fights, but is first focused on winning the Lonsdale Belt outright.

“Unless, I’m offered something major, I want my next three fights after this to be British title defenses and ideally two of them will happen this year.”

“The Commonwealth belt is a bonus that could open doors for fights against Africans, Canadians and Australians down the line but, right now, my main concern is getting the Lonsdale for keeps.”

“After fighting on undercards, I now want to top bills. I had so many of my fights at the York Hall coming through, so how fantastic would it be to go back there as a defending British champion, everybody talking about me as the main event?”

“As champion, I don’t need to call out names. Let them call out mine. Frankie Gavin is the only blemish on my record (23–1) and it’s a fight I still believe I won. I’d like to address that if it can be made but where is he? He’s gone underground.”

“I could fight Sam again and Dale Evans, who put up a very good challenge against Sam at short notice, also fights on the Cardiff bill so that could happen. Shane Singleton’s returned with a couple of good wins but I think I beat all of them, especially fighting at home and with a champion’s confidence. I intend to pick them off, one by one.”

“I’m not looking past Lepelley, mind. I refuse to take my eye off the ball. I intend to make a statement for all those who are queuing up to take my belts.”

Skeete hopes to challenge Italian veteran Leonard Bundu for his European crown in the near future.

“Bundu would be a great fight for me; a nice belt and a good name to have on my record. He’s performed at world level so it would push me up there. That’s the kind of fight I need.”

“And I’d be very confident. I’d need to stay switched on but I believe my style would be all wrong for Bundu. He’s 5ft 6in short, 41 years old and would stay right in front of me. I don’t think he’d cope with my reach or movement. Frankie Gavin let Bundu get close and rough him up but I wouldn’t. I’d run away with it on points.”

Already the IBF ranks Skeete eighth in line to Kell Brook and the WBO list him as the number six contender to their champion Jessie Vargas.

Skeete would very much look forward to a fight against Vargas.

“Look, Kell would be a fight too soon for me. I’ve always rated him. There are world champions and elite world champions and he’s elite. I’m not chasing that. I don’t want to run before I can walk.”

“But Vargas? Most definitely. If Sam Eggington had beat me they were talking of getting him a world title fight so why not me?”

“Vargas moved up from junior welterweight last year so he isn’t massive and, like I say, my style gives anyone in the division problems. If I got my tactics right and performed at my best, I definitely think I could beat him.”

Flanagan vs. Fana Set for Lightweight Clash

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Manchester’s lightweight king Terry Flanagan will make the third defense of his WBO World Title against South Africa’s two-time world champion Mzonke Fana at the Wales Ice Arena, Cardiff on Saturday 16th July, live and exclusive on BoxNation.

Flanagan, 30-0-0 12 KO’s, had been set defend his World Title against Fana on Saturday 9th July at the Manchester Arena as chief-support to World Heavyweight Champion Tyson Fury’s rematch with Wladimir Klitschko.

Team Fury were left with no option but to postpone the first defence of his WBA Super, WBO and IBO World Heavyweight titles after Fury suffered a badly sprained ankle. However, Flanagan will now defend his WBO crown against Fana on the talent-stacked Ice Arena Wales show; just seven days after the original fight date.

Co-headlining a huge night of boxing in Cardiff promoted by Frank Warren in association with RocNation and Caribe Promotions is pound-for-pound superstar Guillermo Rigondeaux who defends his WBA Super-Bantamweight crown against Merseyside hero Jazza Dickens in a real life ‘Rocky’ story. British and Commonwealth Super-Welterweight Champion Liam Williams defends his titles against unbeaten WBO Intercontinental Champion Gary Cororan.

A talent-stacked undercard sees British and Commonwealth Champion Super Bradley Skeete make the fourth defence of his WBO European Welterweight title; Baggies banger Tommy Langford defends his WBO Inter-Continental belt; ‘The Mexican’ Jamie Conlan returns to the ring after his fight of the year contender, Southampton’s red-hot Joe Pigford looks to extend his unbeaten run to eleven fights; Welshmen Craig Evans, Alex Hughes, Gary Buckland, Jay Harris, and Dale Evans all look to impress in front of their home crowd; big-hitting cruiserweight prospect Gary Sweeney looks to go 2-0 and Belfast’s Tyrone McKenna fights over six rounds.