When super featherweight Miguel “Mikey” Garcia enters the ring at the American Bank Center in Corpus Christi, Texas on November 9th, the former World Boxing Organization (WBO) featherweight champion will be looking to wrap his second WBO title belt around his waist. Mikey will head four pounds north and contest for the WBO super featherweight title after losing his WBO featherweight strap on the scales in his last bout in June. Garcia picked up the WBO 126-pound title in January of this year defeating rugged world champion Orlando Salido in eight rounds. The bout was stopped due to Garcia’s broken nose but the Oxnard, California resident was ahead on the cards and he picked up the title. In his first title defence, he was set to face Juan Manuel Lopez but surprisingly missed weight on the scales, so the title was only up for grabs for Lopez. It was a moot point. The undefeated Garcia, 32-0 (27), stopped “JuanMa” in four rounds but the weight issue was enough to convince him his body was suggesting the super featherweight limit might be more suitable, so he made the move.
Garcia will battle WBO super featherweight champion Roman “Rocky” Martinez, 27-1-2 (16), on an HBO-televised card that also features Nonito Donaire once again doing business with Vic Darchinyan for 10 rounds. Also, Demetrius Andrade and Vanes Martirosyan will go at it for 12 frames with the vacant WBO junior middleweight title on the line.
In Vega Baja, Puerto Rico-raised Martinez, you have a battle-tested, 30-fight veteran, a career overachiever. While not outstanding in any one area, he is a solid pro who has been in the ring with some very good fighters and won some fights he wasn’t expected to. Martinez won the WBO super featherweight title in 2009, beating Nicky Cook in his backyard in four rounds. He then made two successful defenses of the title. His European adventure a year-and-a-half later wasn’t as fun as he lost the belt in Glasgow, Scotland to Ricky Burns via a close unanimous decision. Martinez regained the title in September of 2012 beating Miguel Beltran Jr. and has held on to it in two close fights since then.
“Rocky” drew with Juan Carlos Burgos in January of this year, then beat undefeated Diego Magdaleno in April by a close, 12-round split decision. While tough title defenses are a day at the office for the veteran Martinez, he has a very tall order on his hands keeping his belt with Mikey Garcia looking across the ring at him.
Garcia presents all the poise and guile of a ring veteran long beyond his 25 years. Trained by older brother and former world champion Robert Garcia, Mikey is relaxed in the ring and is very strong in all areas of his game. He has speed, some serious pop in his punches and a good defence. It would be difficult to find an area where you could loft any serious criticism on Garcia and what he brings to the table. He is a very good fighter who looks to be a tough day at the office for Martinez or anyone else right now. In a recent interview, while Robert seemed confident about heading to the “Lone Star State” to face Martinez, he said, “Martinez is no pushover” and “he moves well, better than Salido. He’s going to be a tough fight.” While Martinez has made a career out of surprising fans by getting by in fights he wasn’t expected to, I have a feeling Team Garcia will be taking some WBO hardware home with them when they leave Texas and head home to California.