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Does Mikey Garcia Have Key to Join I.E.’s World Title Club?

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Southern California’s hotbed known as the Inland Empire could be adding yet another world champion if Mikey Garcia continues his punishing ways toward the top.

Three world champions born and raised in the “I.E.” already tote championship belts and Garcia (27-0, 23 KOs) could be the fourth member of the exclusive club should he beat Bernabe Concepcion (29-5-1, 15 KOs) on Saturday March 10 in Puerto Rico. A win could next finally lead to a title match.

Members of the world championship club from the I.E. are Timothy “Desert Storm” Bradley, Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. and Kaliesha “Wild, Wild” West. Both West and Garcia live in Moreno Valley, a skip up the hill from Riverside.

Showtime will televise Garcia’s match against Filipino slugger Concepcion, whose last fight took place in the Inland Empire last October. A close split-decision win against Aaron Garcia nailed him a title elimination bout against yet another Garcia.

Mikey Garcia, 24, has been rolling up wins in the featherweight division and is ranked number one in one sanctioning organization and soon to be number one in another. More importantly he wants a world title, but not so that he can join the exclusive club.

“It would be nice to be part of the group but that’s not what I’m focused on. I don’t take that mentality to the ring with me. I concentrate on what I do and that’s to win,” says Garcia.

The former Oxnard resident moved to the Inland Empire more than two years ago and has found the area as equally or more so competitive than his former residence. Trained by his father Eduardo Garcia in the same gym where Chris “The Nightmare” Arreola has his headquarters, there are always dozens of sparring partners at his disposal.

Concepcion, 24, has fought several times in search of the world title. Though he’s lost each challenge, his experience does give him an edge.

“I do think he’s comfortable on the big stage and in the big arena. If he beats me he gets a title shot,” says Garcia of his opponent. “I’ve seen him fight several times. I know his demeanor. He does have a good overhand right.”

Garcia has become familiar with the trio of world champions emanating from the Inland Empire and hopes to become a world champion too. Living in the area can’t hurt.

Bradley lives in Palm Springs and grew up fighting in the same area that produced the brothers Joel, Antonio and Julio Diaz. All train in the same gym in Indio with Joel Diaz serving as Bradley’s trainer.

Chavez attended Ramona High School in Riverside and first put on the gloves in nearby Mira Loma. He has family in the area and now trains 70 miles away in Los Angeles under Freddie Roach’s guidance.

West grew up and lives in Moreno Valley and has trained at several gyms in the area including Riverside, Moreno Valley, Redlands and San Bernardino. She still holds the bantamweight world title and expects to defend it soon.

Few realize that Big Bear Mountain is located in the heart of the Inland Empire.

Currently training in the mountain resort is Saul “Canelo” Alvarez the WBC junior middleweight titleholder from Mexico. He will be facing Sugar Shane Mosley who is also training in Big Bear and lives there.

It’s getting crowded in the I.E. but there’s still room for one more world champion. Does Garcia have the key to get in?

Fights on television

Sat. Showtime, 10 p.m. Orlando Salido (37-11-2) vs. Juan Manuel Lopez (31-1); Mikey (27-0)  Garcia vs. Bernabe Concepcion (.29-5-1).

Check out more boxing news on video at The Boxing Channel.

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2015 Fight of the Year – Francisco Vargas vs Takashi Miura

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The WBC World Super Featherweight title bout between Francisco Vargas and Takashi Miura came on one of the biggest boxing stages of 2015, as the bout served as the HBO pay-per-view’s co-main event on November 21st, in support of Miguel Cotto vs Saul Alvarez.

Miura entered the fight with a (29-2-2) record and he was making the fifth defense of his world title, while Vargas entered the fight with an undefeated mark of (22-0-1) in what was his first world title fight. Both men had a reputation for all-out fighting, with Miura especially earning high praise for his title defense in Mexico where he defeated Sergio Thompson in a fiercely contested battle.

The fight started out hotly contested, and the intensity never let up. Vargas seemed to win the first two rounds, but by the fourth round, Miura seemed to pull ahead, scoring a knock-down and fighting with a lot of confidence. After brawling the first four rounds, Miura appeared to settle into a more technical approach. Rounds 5 and 6 saw the pendulum swing back towards Vargas, as he withstood Miura’s rush to open the fifth round and the sixth round saw both men exchanging hard punches.

The big swinging continued, and though Vargas likely edged Miura in rounds 5 and 6, Vargas’ face was cut in at least two spots and Miura started to assert himself again in rounds 7 and 8. Miura was beginning to grow in confidence while it appeared that Vargas was beginning to slow down, and Miura appeared to hurt Vargas at the end of the 8th round.

Vargas turned the tide again at the start of the ninth round, scoring a knock down with an uppercut and a straight right hand that took Miura’s legs and sent him to the canvas. Purely on instinct, Miura got back up and continued to fight, but Vargas was landing frequently and with force. Referee Tony Weeks stepped in to stop the fight at the halfway point of round 9 as Miura was sustaining a barrage of punches.

Miura still had a minute and a half to survive if he was going to get out of the round, and it was clear that he was not going to stop fighting.

A back and forth battle of wills between two world championship level fighters, Takashi Miura versus “El Bandido” Vargas wins the 2015 Fight of the Year.

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Jan 9 in Germany – Feigenbutz and De Carolis To Settle Score

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This coming Saturday, January 9th, the stage is set at the Baden Arena in Offenburg, Germany for a re-match between Vincent Feigenbutz and Giovanni De Carolis. The highly anticipated re-match is set to air on SAT.1 in Germany, and Feigenbutz will once again be defending his GBU and interim WBA World titles at Super Middleweight.

The first meeting between the two was less than three months ago, on October 17th and that meeting saw Feigenbutz controversially edge De Carolis on the judge’s cards by scores of (115-113, 114-113 and 115-113). De Carolis scored a flash knock down in the opening round, and he appeared to outbox Feigenbutz in the early going, but the 20 year old German champion came on in the later rounds.

The first bout is described as one of the most crowd-pleasing bouts of the year in Germany, and De Carolis and many observers felt that the Italian had done enough to win.

De Carolis told German language website RAN.DE that he was more prepared for the re-match, and that due to the arrogance Feigenbutz displayed in the aftermath of the first fight, he was confident that he had won over some of the audience. Though De Carolis fell short of predicting victory, he promised a re-vamped strategy tailored to what he has learned about Feigenbutz, whom he termed immature and inexperienced.

The stage is set for Feigenbutz vs De Carolis 2, this Saturday January 9th in Offenburg, Germany. If you can get to the live event do it, if not you have SAT.1 in Germany airing the fights, and The Boxing Channel right back here for full results.

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2015 Knock Out of the Year – Saul Alvarez KO’s James Kirkland

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On May 9th of 2015, Saul “Canelo” Alvarez delivered a resonant knock-out of James Kirkland on HBO that wins the 2015 KO of the Year.

The knock-out itself came in the third round, after slightly more than two minutes of action. The end came when Alvarez delivered a single, big right hand that caught Kirkland on the jaw and left him flat on his back after spinning to the canvas.Alvarez was clearly the big star heading into the fight. The fight was telecast by HBO for free just one week after the controversial and disappointing Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Manny Pacquiao fight, and Alvarez was under pressure to deliver the type of finish that people were going to talk about. Kirkland was happy to oblige Alvarez, taking it right to Alvarez from the start. Kirkland’s aggression saw him appear to land blows that troubled the young Mexican in the early going. Alvarez played good defense, and he floored Kirkland in the first round, displaying his power and his technique in knocking down an aggressive opponent.

However, Kirkland kept coming at Alvarez and the fight entered the third round with both men working hard and the feeling that the fight would not go the distance. Kirkland continued to move forward, keeping “Canelo” against the ropes and scoring points with a barrage of punches while looking for an opening.

At around the two minute mark, Alvarez landed an uppercut that sent Kirkland to the canvas again. Kirkland got up, but it was clear that he did not have his legs under him. Kirkland was going to try to survive the round, but Alvarez had an opportunity to close out the fight. The question was would he take it?

Alvarez closed in on Kirkland, putting his opponent’s back to the ropes. Kirkland was hurt, but he was still dangerous, pawing with punches and loading up for one big shot.

But it was the big shot “Canelo” threw that ended the night. Kirkland never saw it coming, as he was loading up with a huge right hand of his own. The right Alvarez threw cracked Kirkland in the jaw, and his eyes went blank. His big right hand whizzed harmlessly over the head of a ducking Alvarez, providing the momentum for the spin that left Kirkland prone on the canvas.

Saul “Canelo” Alvarez went on to defeat Miguel Cotto in his second fight of 2015 and he is clearly one of boxing’s biggest stars heading into 2016. On May 9th Alvarez added another reel to his highlight film when he knocked out James Kirkland with the 2015 “Knock Out of the Year”.

Photo by naoki fukuda

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