On Saturday night at the Theater in Madison Square Garden in New York, Miguel “Mikey” Garcia, 33-0 (28), of Oxnard, California will kick off his eighth year in the pro game, taking on tough Mexican foe Juan Carlos Burgos, 30-1-2 (20), live on HBO. Burgos has only lost once in his career and that was contesting for the vacant World Boxing Council (WBC) featherweight title in 2010 against Hozumi Hasegawa. And while Burgos is a tough customer, he has a long night ahead of him taking on one of boxing’s rising superstars in Garcia.
Garcia turned pro in the summer of 2006 and by the end of 2009, he had run up a 19-0 record, displaying the ability to box and bang, rattling off KOs in 16 of the 19 victories as one of boxing’s hottest young prospects. It didn’t hurt to have his older brother and former world champion Robert Garcia running things in the corner as well. Robert, one of the game’s best trainers, works Mikey out of his star-studded stable in Oxnard, California that boasts Brandon Rios and recent Adrien Broner conqueror Marcos Maidana among others. In April of 2010, “Mikey” captured the United States Boxing Association (USBA) featherweight title, beating Tomas Villa in one round. Two fights later, he KO’ed tough veteran Cornelius Lock in 11 rounds in an International Boxing Federation (IBF) title eliminator in Texas. In March of 2011, Garcia scored an 11th round KO over previously undefeated Matt Remillard to capture the North American Boxing Federation (NABF) and World Boxing Organization (WBO) North American Boxing Organization (NABO) featherweight titles. He defended the titles three times over the following year, closing off 2012 by drilling former world champion Mauricio Pastrana in three rounds in Mexico in September and stopping Jonathan Victor Barros in eight rounds in November.
Garcia kicked off 2013 beating tough WBO champion Orlando Salido via eight round technical decision in January, dropping him four times in the bout before the fight was stopped due to Garcia’s broken nose. Before his next fight in June at the American Airlines Arena in Dallas, Garcia was stripped of his WBO featherweight title for failing to make weight, so the title was only on the line for challenger Juan Manuel Lopez (whom Garcia stopped in the fourth round).
Realizing he could no longer make the featherweight limit, he returned to Dallas in June to face Roman “Rocky” Martinez at super featherweight. Working a few pounds north, Garcia looked and felt stronger, stopping Martinez in eight rounds to capture the WBO super featherweight title.
Now as he looks to kick off what he hopes will be his breakout year in 2014, Garcia will tangle with former world title challenger Juan Carlos Burgos.
Burgos’ impressive résumé shows he has only lost once, in a world title attempt, and was held to a draw in his other world title shot against former Garcia foe Roman Martinez in a fight many thought Burgos won.
Garcia, one of boxing hottest attractions right now, has been mentioned as a possible opponent for mega-star Manny Pacquiao down the line, so he probably will not be contesting in the 130-pound range for long. But the Oxnard fighter knows he must be successful - and look good doing it - to secure a contract with the likes of the “Pac-Man.” And tough Mexican Burgos knows that coming off two draws in his only bouts of 2013, he can reverse his career trajectory and slot himself into a big-money bout with an impressive win over the favored Garcia.
Two motivated fighters with a lot on the line could turn this into a fun way to end the first month of boxing’s New Year.