Liam Walsh : “‘Rocky’ Doesn’t Have 10% of the Skills or Boxing Brain that Garcia Possesses”

On Saturday evening at the American Bank Center, Corpus Christi, Texas, the 25 year old Miguel Angel ‘Mikey’ Garcia – unbeaten in 32 with 27 quick wins – challenges hardened Puerto Rican brawler Roman ‘Rocky’ Martinez for the WBO super-feather spoils.

To dissect the main event for us this week, boxing writer Glynn Evans called up Cromer’s unbeaten and world rated Commonwealth super-featherweight boss Liam Walsh and this was his assessment.

“I’m looking forward to this Big Time and I’ll definitely be staying up to catch it ‘live’ which will completely ruin the rest of my Sunday!

I first got into ‘Mikey’ Garcia about six or seven fights ago, long before he won a world title and everybody started raving about him. As soon as I saw him, I phoned up our Ryan (his twin brother and fellow pro) to alert him that Garcia was destined to become one of the very best. I’ve followed him religiously since.

I already think that Garcia is in the top five fighters, pound-for-pound, in the world but Saturday night will be a really good yardstick. Nobody yet has done a real number on Martinez but, if Garcia beats him as easily as I expect him to, it’ll make a massive statement.

I’ve watched Martinez quite a few times, obviously his UK fights with Nicky Cook and Ricky Burns, plus his recent title defence against Victor Burgos. That was a really brutal fight – all of Roman’s fights are – but I felt Martinez deserved the win, landed the cleaner, heavier shots.

For me, ‘Rocky’ doesn’t have 10% of the skills or boxing brain that Garcia possesses but he’s extremely strong and tough. Even when Ricky Burns delivered his only loss (pts12, September 2010), Ricky didn’t really beat him up. Martinez gave a gritty performance in defeat.

Before that, Nicky Cook had been doing very well, out boxing Martinez, before he got clipped in round four. ‘Rocky’ effectively turned that fight with just one shot so clearly he punches very hard. Billy Nelson (trainer of Ricky Burns) said you could hear these really sickening thuds every time he landed on Ricky. And I believe Martinez is a much better fighter now than he was when he fought over here against Cook and Burns.

Basically, ‘Rocky’ is a very, very hard man who might not be blessed with the greatest amount of natural ability or lateral movement but who really plays to his strengths. He’s very aggressive, always ‘in your face’, and his work rate is very high. That’s why all his fights are very exciting to watch.

Also, he’s absolutely huge for the division yet manages to make weight well. I read in the last few days that, for this fight, he’s already within two pounds of the super-feather limit.

Martinez is very strong physically and naturally tough and hardy. He seems to take a good dig. He’s been in with a lot of top kids and, to my knowledge and research, no one has had him over or come close to stopping him.

On the downside, he doesn’t seem to have too many gears and struggles to change the pace but I can’t ‘diss’ Martinez too much. You have to credit Burns for doing a cracking job on him rather than pick faults with ‘Rocky’.

But Garcia is really special; technically flawless. What’s not to like about him other than he’s in the same weight division as me?!

He’s a thinker and I love his calmness. Clearly, he’s got very heavy hands but he doesn’t go looking to land the big shots. He’s got a perfect grasp of range; jabs, then drops off six inches, jabs, then drops off six inches, then nails opponents with that big right hand as they come on to him in frustration. ‘Mikey’ punches very correctly and his timing is wicked. He breaks the opposition down systematically.

When I’m analysing fighters in my weight class, I’m always trying to pick holes, identify ways that they can be beaten. With Garcia, I can’t find any flaws. He’s that good. I can’t see any one at super-feather really testing him.

He’s probably got the frame to move up to lightweight, and even light-welter, and I think he’ll need to do that if he’s to be really stretched. The fights I’d most like to see him in would be against (interim WBA lightweight champion) Yuriorkis Gamboa or (WBO lightweight king) Ricky Burns. But I’d back Garcia to beat both comfortably.

Though Gamboa is very slick and fast, there’s a question mark about his whiskers and I just sense Garcia would be a bit too good all round for Burns. Ricky is very gritty and has a great jab but I believe Mikey’s is even better and if Ricky can’t tame you on the end of his jab he tends to struggle a bit. Still, they’d be very interesting fights that would bring out the best in Garcia.

Perhaps the only blip against Mikey is that, even though he’s from such a huge and famous boxing family, he treats boxing as just a hobby, something that he’s good at and can use to pay the bills. He started pretty late and really wanted to be a law enforcement officer. How much is his heart in it?

I know he got a lot of flak when he bailed out on his stool after Orlando Salido nutted him and broke his nose (Garcia was awarded a technical decision after eight rounds last January). But I think that was more his corner’s call. They knew that ‘Mikey’ was miles in front after he’d dropped Salido four times in the opening four rounds. It’s easy to say that Garcia should have been a warrior and just fought on but the job was already done. I don’t want to criticise because I don’t know how I’d react if put in a similar situation.

Also, he got a bit of negative press for failing to make the weight and conceding his featherweight title on the scales before his last fight with Juanma Lopez. Some say it’s effectively cheating, because it’s getting those last few pounds off that really takes it out of a fighter and Lopez had put himself through the agony to make weight.

But I don’t think Garcia did it deliberately. He got pretty close, to within a couple of pounds. He probably walks around a good stone and a half above featherweight and, when you’re still growing, you can’t really put a time frame on when you’ll outgrow a division. They reckon Garcia was barely eating for a week before his fights down at 126.

At super-feather, he’ll be even more formidable. He’s absolutely massive so should have no trouble carrying his power up. I don’t think rising in weight will make him more vulnerable against the heavier hitters at 130lbs because he seldom gets hit.

Because of that, I’d be really shocked and a bit gutted if Martinez managed to ‘do’ him. The champions only hope would be to get on Garcia from the very start, hunt the body, perhaps be a bit dirty and try to ruffle Garcia’s feathers. Mikey seems to be a very nice guy and that could perhaps upset him.

That’s probably ‘Rocky’s’ best option but it might prove a suicide pack. If he shows little regard for Garcia’s power he’s likely to get taken out. Salido tried those tactics and look what happened to him.

Though Garcia enters a huge favourite (6-1 on), this is a fight where we should find out so much about exactly how good he can become. I’m not expecting too many thrills and spills. The first four rounds should be the most interesting with Martinez giving it his all. But once Garcia starts to get his measure, expect a clinic; a one sided ‘beat down’ from one of the masters.

Martinez has never been close to being stopped but I’ll tip Garcia to make a huge statement and get him out of there sometime after round eight. I just think Martinez will be taking too much punishment.”

Jeffrey Mathebula speaks on Kiko Martínez & More ( Spanish)

Ya has sido campeón mundial anteriormente, ¿de que manera afrontas la pelea ante Kiko Martínez?

Sí, ya he sido campeón del mundo. Estoy tranquilo, tengo mucha experiencia a este nivel. He estado involucrado en ocho peleas oficiales de la IBF y también dos combates de unificación, uno IBF/WBA ante Caballero y el otro con Nonito por el IBF/WBO.

¿Qué opinión tienes acerca del combate que Kiko protagonizó contra Jonathan Romero?

Sé que él sorprendió a mucha gente, pero no a mí. Lo hablé con Branco, mi promotor, antes del combate, sabía que Kiko tenía una muy buena oportunidad para dar la sorpresa.

¿Qué destacarías de él?

Gran corazón y mucha determinación. Vi su pelea en Johannesburgo contra Takalani.

Además de Kiko Martínez, ¿conoces algo más sobre el boxeo español?

Para ser honesto todo lo que conocemos en Sudáfrica acerca de España es que tiene grandes futbolistas, que es un sitio genial para las vacaciones de verano y que su gente es fantástica. ¡Ah, y que sus chicas son preciosas!

¿Realizarás toda la preparación en Sudáfrica?

Todos mis anteriores combates los preparé aquí en casa. Mi promotor está trabajando en ello para ver que hacemos.

Existe una gran diferencia de estatura entre Kiko y tú, ¿intentarás boxear en la larga distancia o aceptarás la guerra cuando Kiko entre en la corta distancia?

Preguntas a acerca de la estrategia y el plan de pelea, y por razones obvias es algo que nos guardaremos para nosotros. Lo veréis el día de la pelea.

Además de en Sudáfrica has combatido en Panamá y en los Estados Unidos, ¿qué sientes al tener que venir a España? ¿es un inconveniente para ti pelear fuera de tu país?

¡Estoy como loco por ir a España! Me han dicho que es un sitio precioso y la gente es muy humilde y educada. Como bien dices ya he estado en Panamá y USA por lo que no encuentro problema en tener que viajar fuera, ¡por supuesto que no!

Te has enfrentado en tres ocasiones a Takalani Ndolu, venciendo dos veces y perdiendo en la otra por una decisión muy cerrada. Como bien dijiste anteriormente, Ndlovu derrotó a Kiko hace cuatro años, ¿piensas que todos estos datos son importantes?

Para nada, si pienso que será fácil vencer a Kiko porque el perdió contra Takalani y yo vencí a Takalani estaré cometiendo un grave error. No significa nada. En mi opinión, y hablando desde la experiencia, cuando un boxeador consigue un título del mundo cambia para mejor. Estoy seguro de que el Kiko que se subirá al ring el 21 de diciembre será mucho mejor que él que lo hizo en su momento contra Takalani.

Realizaste un gran combate ante una de las grandes estrellas del boxeo en la actualidad, ¿crees que esa experiencia de haber combatido ante Nonito Donaire puede ser importante a la hora de enfrentarte a Kiko Martínez?

Fue una grandísima experiencia. Moverse a estos niveles de campeonatos… te digo lo mismo que antes, tengo mucha más experiencia que Kiko. Eso es algo que uno no puede comprar en la tienda.

Sufriste una doble fractura de mandíbula durante aquella pelea, ¿te sientes recuperado al 100%?

Si, estoy totalmente al 100%, tal y como demostré en mi última pelea con Takalani el pasado 23 de marzo. Él dijo que dudaba de que mi mandíbula estuviera recuperada para aguantar sus puñetazos, pero le demostré que estaba equivocado.

El boxeo no es un deporte muy popular en España, ¿Qué puedes contarnos sobre ti para hacerte más cercano a los aficionados?

Además del boxeo sigo el fútbol y el baloncesto, y cuando tengo tiempo me gusta leer libros. Respecto a música me gustan el hip hop y el rock.

¿Quién era tu ídolo cuando empezaste en el boxeo?

Sin duda ese fue Roy Jones Jr.

¿Por qué te apodan la “mongoose” (la mangosta)?

Mi primer entrenador fue el que me lo puso. Decía que era listo como ese animal.

Si consigues derrotar a Kiko ¿Cuáles sería tus planes?

Cualesquiera que el señor Branco crea que son los mejores para mí. Quiero enfrentarme a los mejores. Podría realizar una defensa voluntaria o buscar una pelea unificatoria, o la revancha con Nonito, porque yo quiero a los mejores y él es uno de ellos.

Danos tu resultado:

El título súper gallo de la IBF tiene una larga tradición en Sudáfrica desde hace muchos años. Welcome N’Cita, después Vuyani Bungu, más tarde Lehlohonolo Ledwaba, y como bien sabéis Takalani y yo mismo. Sin duda alguna, ¡el cinturón volverá a casa!

Donaire vs Darchinyan 2- A Rematch Too Long in the Making

By: Steve Gallegos

On November 9 th , Nonito Donaire and Vic “The Raging Bull Darchinyan” meet in a long awaited rematch of their 2007 Flyweight title fight won by Donaire in upset fashion. 6 long years later they finally meet in a rematch that has been long in the making. This is a fight boxing fans have been waiting for for some time and many fans including myself find it very hard to choose which fighter to root for as both fighters have provided a lot of memories over the years.

Vic Darchinyan made a name for himself on 06/03/06 at the Thomas and Mack Center in Las Vegas. The entire boxing world was anticipating the rubber match between Diego Corrales and Jose Luis Castillo which was the scheduled main event for that evening; however Castillo as he did in their 2 nd fight, failed to make the contracted weight limit of 135 lbs and the fight was scrapped. The co-feature showcasing relatively unknown flyweight champion Vic Darchinyan taking on Mexican Challenger Luis Maldonado was moved to the main event. The Thomas and Mack Center was only half filled that night and very few hardcore boxing fans reluctantly tuned in to Showtime that night saddened by the cancellation of Corrales-Castillo 3. I remember watching Showtime that night slouched in my big chair feeling down as if my best friend had died. Vic Darchinyan entered the ring that night and became the hero of the day as he and Luis Maldonado gave fight fans a great fight that night. I remember feeling a sense of enlightenment after that fight and didn’t feel cheated after the cancellation of Corrales-Castillo. This performance put Darchinyan on the map and he began appearing regularly on Showtime-televised fight cards.

A little over a year later in Bridgeport, Connecticut, Darchinyan defended his flyweight title against a relative unknown Phillipino-American fighter named Nonito Donaire. Darchinyan had successfully defended his flyweight twice since the Maldonado fight including a 6 th round technical decision against Nonito Donaire’s older brother Glenn, who was sitting ringside hoping his little brother could exact revenge. This was supposed to be another showcase for Darchinyan; however Donaire had other plans in mind. During an exchange in the 5 th round, Donaire floored Darchinyan with a massive left hook. Darchinyan was able to get up; however he was on wobbly legs causing the bout to be stopped. The fight was awarded 2007’s knockout and upset of the year. As was the case a year earlier with Darchinyan, this win put Nonito Donaire on the map and he began to be showcased more frequently on televised cards with his very exciting boxer-puncher style which earned him world titles from flyweight to super bantamweight. Darchinyan was able to rebound nicely from this defeat as he would move up to the super flyweight division and win 3 world titles.

A rematch had been discussed for quite some time; however with the politics of boxing, the rematch was delayed. Darchinyan’s career has been up and down since his July, 2009 loss to Joseph “King Kong” Agbeko in a bid for Agbeko’s bantamweight title. Donaire is coming off a decision loss to Guillermo Rigondeaux in an attempt to unify the super bantamweight division. Donaire and Darchinyan will finally meet again on November 9 th in a crossroads fight which will not be for a world title, only a fight for pride. If you’re betting on this fight, the smart money is on Donaire whose boxing style gives him the advantage in this fight; however Darchinyan should not be counted out in this fight. He still has that ferocious, aggressive style that can give Donaire problems should he turn this bout into a fire fight. As a boxing fan, it is very hard to choose which fighter to root for as its very hard not to root for either fighter. In either case we should see a classic boxer vs puncher kind of fight that should provide fireworks for as long as it lasts.