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Mikey Garcia Eager to Prove Skills; Chris Arreola Too

David A. Avila

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Mikey Garcia

RIVERSIDE, Calif.-A loud rumbling diesel engine from a massive burgundy Dodge Ram trumpeted the arrival of some mystery guest as it inched forward on the 200-feet long driveway to the boxing compound on Tuesday.

When the driver emerged it turned out to be Mikey Garcia, the four-division conqueror.

Throughout his career Garcia has rampaged through multiple weight divisions almost in secret. That’s largely because few of his early fights took place in Southern California. Even now he prepares to fight in Texas, not Southern California.

In many ways Garcia (39-0, 30 KOs) has been the best kept secret in boxing. Many triumphs over the years have gone unnoticed and that ends on March 16 when he meets welterweight titlist Errol Spence Jr. (24-0, 21 KOs) at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas. It will be shown on FOX pay-per-view.

But more than a few experts have kept tabs on the youngest of the fighting Garcia clan who migrated from Oxnard to Riverside, California more than six years ago. The family then established one of the premier boxing gyms in the world. Almost all of the fighters who train in the hillside compound are recognized killers in the boxing ring.

Guys like Vergil Ortiz Jr., Lindor Delgado, Jonathan Navarro and Hector Tanajara are among some of those young assassins and all bow down to Mikey Garcia; the quasi sensei of the Riverside squad of hit men.

As Garcia moves toward the gym structure the other fighters stop their bag work to pay respect to their leader. He has an air of supreme confidence that was evident all the way back to his early days as an amateur.

“Even when he was young he was the same way,” said brother and trainer Robert Garcia, a former world champion in his day. “He always thought he could not be beaten.”

Back-to-Back-to-Back

Respect goes a long ways for Mikey Garcia. Money and fame are good but respect and recognition for his fighting skills are even more important to the 30-year-old. He’s heard the words, the declarations and taunts from fans and media and seems eager to unleash his full fighting repertoire on the prizefighting world.

“I want to show the world I’m a f*****g bad ass,” said Mikey Garcia almost angrily. “I want to show the media you don’t give me enough credit.”

After losing more than two years from January 2014 to July 2016 to contractual problems with his former promoter, Garcia spent that time out of the prize ring by sparring against much bigger guys on occasion. He could be seen exchanging blows against visiting boxers as small as 122 pounds to monsters as big as 170-plus pounds. Amazingly he could nullify any of their attacks and suddenly make them look vulnerable. It was surreal to witness, yet revealing in showing the vast weaponry at his disposal.

It’s a primary reason all who train in the Robert Garcia Boxing Academy have utmost respect for Mikey Garcia. They’ve seen him in action many times.

As you look at Mikey Garcia speak to the media it’s easy to see this is the moment he’s been anticipating. It’s his moment.

“It’s one of those fights that don’t come along often,” said Mikey Garcia about challenging his third consecutive world champion in a third weight division. “That’s three undefeated champions back to back to back.”

First there was Sergey Lipinets at super lightweight, then Robert Easter at lightweight, and now Spence at welterweight. It’s almost Henry Armstrong-esque.

Back in the 1930s, Henry Armstrong conquered and held the featherweight, lightweight and welterweight championships simultaneously. He almost conquered the middleweight champion but was defeated by Ceferino Garcia.

Rules were made to avoid crossover world champions and now there are added weight divisions like the super lightweights, but Garcia is still eager to prove he can make his indelible mark.

It’s what his whole career has been pointed toward and he relishes the moment.

“I’m real excited to show who I am,” said Mikey Garcia. “Everybody will be surprised at how well I do.”

Nightmare Arreola

Also present at the hillside boxing compound was former heavyweight contender Chris “The Nightmare” Arreola.

Looking svelte and composed, the Riverside prizefighter marveled at the ascent Mikey Garcia’s trajectory has taken over the years.

Back in 2011, when Arreola was among the top heavyweights in the world, he would train in the late Willie Schunke’s hilltop gym in the western portion of Riverside. He would often see the Oxnard native ply his craft against much bigger competition and dominate.

“He does things against guys and they can’t stop him,” said Arreola of Garcia. “I’ve been watching him for years and he’s a hell of a fighter. No doubt.”

Arreola (37-5-1, 32 KOs) is poised to fight on the same March 16th under card against undefeated Haitian boxer Jean Pierre Augustin (17-0-1, 12 KOs). After a two and a half year absence from the gym Arreola returned last December and defeated Maurenzo Smith by stoppage. Now he meets an undefeated heavyweight prospect on the rise.

“This is the situation I put myself in,” said Arreola. “I’m the gatekeeper. I’ve got to change that. Let’s see what happens.”

The heavyweight fight is scheduled for 10 rounds.

(Photos by Alonzo Coston)

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Boxing Odds and Ends: Ramirez-Postol, Taylor-Serrano and More

Arne K. Lang

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Boxing-Odds-and-Ends-Ramirez-Postol-Taylor-Serrano-and-More

It takes a strong constitution to be a boxing promoter because things always go wrong. The only law that governs boxing is Murphy’s Law.

Carl Frampton’s first fight under the Top Rank banner was slated for Aug. 10 of last year in Philadelphia. With the fight five days away, Frampton suffered a freak injury while sitting in a hotel lobby. A boy playing behind a curtain knocked over a seven-foot pillar which fell on Frampton’s left hand, fracturing it.

This was the second time that a Frampton fight was knocked out by a freak injury. Two years earlier, a homecoming fight in Belfast had to be scrapped when Frampton’s opponent, Andres Gutierrez, slipped in the shower in his hotel on the eve of the battle and suffered severe facial injuries.

The latest bout to fall out because of an odd development is Jose Ramirez’s Feb. 2 WBC/WBO lightweight title defense against Viktor Postol at a Chinese golf resort south of Hong Kong. The event fell victim to the coronavirus, more exactly the fear it has instilled.

The virus, which produces flu-like symptoms that are resistant to conventional antibiotics, apparently originated at an outdoor food market in the city of Wuhan where live animals are sold. The numbers vary with each new story, but according to one account there have been 444 confirmed cases in Hubei province, of which Wuhan is the capital city, and 653 cases worldwide including two in the United States, a man in his 30’s living near Seattle and a Chicago woman in her 60’s.

The fear of a pandemic (an epidemic becomes a pandemic when it spreads across multiple geographic regions of the world) has led to some drastic measures. The Chinese government has reportedly put 12 cities on lockdown, blocking traffic in and out. At many airports, visitors arriving from China are being screened. There are now thermal cameras than can record a person’s body temperature remotely.

Jose Ramirez (pictured with his promoter Bob Arum) was scheduled to leave for China yesterday (Jan. 23) but was intercepted. Viktor Postol is already there and apparently stranded until an outgoing flight can be arranged.

The Ramirez-Postol fight was to air on ESPN. No make-up date has been set.

– – –

British promoter Eddie Hearn says he’s close to finalizing a fight between Katie Taylor and Amanda Serrano. Hearn says the fight will take place in the U.S. in April. It figures that Madison Square Garden is the frontrunner.

If the fight comes off on schedule, this will be the biggest women’s fight in history!

That’s because the odds attached to the fight figure to be in the “pick-‘em” range and that guarantees that boxing writers and others in the boxing community will be surveyed to get their picks – about which there figures to be considerable disagreement – and that will greatly enhance the pre-fight buzz.

Taylor, 33, last fought in November in Manchester, England, advancing her record to 15-0 (6 KOs) with a unanimous decision over Christina Linardatou, a fighter from Greece via the Dominican Republic. It was Taylor’s first fight at 140 after previously unifying the lightweight title with a hard-fought decision over Belgium’s Delfine Persoon.

Amanda Serrano, a 31-year-old southpaw, born in Puerto Rico and raised in Brooklyn, has won titles in five weight divisions. She last fought as a featherweight, turning away gritty Heather Hardy, but has competed as high as 140. Boasting a 37-1-1 record, she’s won 23 straight, 18 by stoppage, 10 in the opening round

What sets women boxers apart from their male counterparts is that the women have a significantly lower knockout ratio. Amanda Serrano is the glaring exception.

Despite a less eye-catching record, Taylor has arguably fought the stiffer competition considering her extensive amateur background. As a pro, her victims include Cindy Serrano, Amanda’s older sister by six years. Taylor whitewashed her in a match at Boston Garden, prompting the elder Serrano sister to call it a career.

– – –

The most bizarre (non)story to appear in a boxing web site this week involved former unified heavyweight champion Riddick Bowe. A man representing Bowe, identified as Eli Karabell, was frustrated because Eddie Hearn wasn’t returning his calls. Karabell had offered Hearn the right of first refusal on Bowe’s next fight.

Bowe, now 51 years old, last fought in a boxing ring in 2008 when he returned to the sport after a three-and-half year absence for an 8-round bout in Germany. In 2013, he appeared in a kickboxing fight in Thailand where he was stopped in the second round after being knocked down five times by leg kicks.

“Will there be another chapter to write for Bowe?” concluded the author of this piece.

Egads, let’s hope not.

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Boxing Odds and Ends: Crawford, Canelo, Caleb Plant and More

Arne K. Lang

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Boxing-Odds-and-Ends-Crawford-Canelo-Caleb-Plant-and-More

Boxing Odds and Ends: Crawford, Canelo, Caleb Plant and More

Although a lot of disinformation comes out of the mouths of boxing promoters, Bob Arum was apparently serious when he broached the idea of a two-fight series between Terence Crawford and Conor McGregor, the first fight to be conducted under MMA rules and the second under boxing rules.

Crawford is amenable. “I just have to have the proper time to prepare myself,” he told ESPN’s Dan Rafael. “…I haven’t been in that (wrestling) environment in a long time, but most definitely I feel I can compete with anyone given the proper time to train on the MMA side, being that I have a wrestling background.”

Crawford, 32, last wrestled in middle school so he would certainly need a refresher course. However, he would have a better chance of defeating Conor McGregor in an MMA match than McGregor would have of defeating him in a boxing match. So, if Arum’s proposed two-fight series ever comes off, the tailpiece may be unnecessary.

– – –

As first reported by ESPN’s Steve Kim, Andy Ruiz Jr. has dumped trainer Manny Robles. According to Kim’s report, Ruiz’s father informed Robles of the decision and said it was Al Haymon’s idea.

Andy Ruiz appears to be one of those people that can gain weight just looking at food. He weighed 297 ½ pounds for his pro debut at age 19, carried 268 pounds for his first meeting with Anthony Joshua, and ballooned up to 283 ½ for the rematch after leading reporters to believe that he had actually slimmed down for the sequel.

Ruiz, noted Kim, went from a feel-good story to a cautionary tale in just six months.

– – –

Who ya’ gonna believe?

A certain disreputable web site, bragging that it had an exclusive, told its readers that Canelo Alvarez had settled on Billy Joe Saunders as his next opponent and that they would meet on Cinco de Mayo in Las Vegas. The next day, Sports Illustrated’s Chris Mannix, a far more trustworthy source, reported that Ryota Murata had emerged as the frontrunner and that negotiations were underway to stage the fight in Japan.

Perhaps it makes sense for Canelo to promote his brand in a new market. However, if he fights Murata, who holds a WBA belt, he would reportedly be dropping back to 160 and at age 29 he appears to have outgrown the weight class.

Stay tuned.

– – –

If Caleb Plant were an NBA player, his name would be Kevin Love. Plant, who recently married FOX/PBC reporter Jordan Hardy, is the only U.S.-born, non-Hispanic white person among the various champions in the 17 weight divisions.

Plant, who hails from tiny Ashland City, Tenn. (23 miles from Nashville) defends his IBF super middleweight title on Feb. 15 at Nashville’s 20,000-seat Bridgestone Arena. In the opposite corner will be Germany’s Vincent Feigenbutz who will be making his U.S. debut.

The 24-year-old Feigenbutz, who turned pro at age 16, has won 10 straight and 30 of his last 31. He represents a big step up in class from Plant’s last opponent, Mike Lee, who was in way over his head.

– – –

A sad note from South Africa: Five days after the death of trailblazer Peter Mathebula, his widow, Emma Gabaitsiwe Mathebula, died suddenly of an apparent heart attack. Peter Mathebula’s funeral, originally set for Saturday, has been pushed back until Tuesday and will now be a joint funeral.

Mathebula, who won the WBA world flyweight title in 1980, basically died a pauper, having sold all of  his boxing memorabilia to keep his head above water. His heirs had reached out to the government for assistance in defraying the costs of his burial.

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Avila Perspective, Chap. 82: Jason Quigley Returns to SoCal and More

David A. Avila

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Avila-Perspective-Chap-82-Jason-Quigley-Returns-to-SoCal-and-More

Southern California prizefighting heats up with Jason Quigley headlining a fight card in Orange County and then, two days later, another fight card takes place in the heart of Los Angeles.

Ireland’s Quigley (17-1, 13 KOs) faces Mexico’s Fernando Marin (16-4-3, 12 KOs) on Thursday Jan. 23, at the OC Hangar in Costa Mesa, Calif. DAZN will stream the Golden Boy Promotions fight card live.

Quigley, 28, seeks to reclaim territory lost when he suffered a defeat last July against Tureano Johnson. Ironically, Marin would lose 10 days later in Hollywood to super welterweight contender Serhii Bohachuk.

For several years Quigley had trained in Southern California but decided to change trainers and location. He moved to Great Britain and still prepares near his native country but primarily fights in the U.S.

At one time Quigley clamored for a match against Gennady “GGG” Golovkin or Saul “Canelo” Alvarez but now finds himself trying to prove he belongs in the upper tier of the middleweight division. It’s loaded with talent.

Also on the same fight card will be popular North Hollywood super welterweight Ferdinand Kerobyan who was headed to contender status when he ran into Blair “the Flair” Cobbs. At the time Cobbs was an unknown quantity but no longer.

Kerobyan (13-1, 8 KOs) meets Azael Cosio (21-8-2) in an eight-round clash in the semi-main event at OC Hangar. Doors open at 5 p.m.

Red Boxing International

On Saturday Jan. 27, Red Boxing International hosts its first boxing card of the year at Leonardo’s Night Club located at 6617 Wilson Ave. L.A. 90001. Doors open at 5 p.m.

Super welterweight Bryan Flores (13-1, 6 KOs) meets Brandon Baue (15-17) in the main event  in the first event of the year for the ambitious promotion company. For the past two years Flores fought primarily in Tijuana, Mexico where he racked up six wins. Now he’s back on Southern California soil.

Another match features lightweights Angel Israel Rodriguez (5-0) facing off against Braulio Avila (3-6) in a six-round fight.

Rodriguez fights out of Pico Rivera, Calif. but recently fought in Costa Rica where he won by first round knockout in November. He will be fighting Avila who just fought two weeks ago at the Chumash Casino in Santa Ynez, Calif.

It’s a long fight card with 11 bouts on the schedule.

JRock and Rosario

Boxing fans received another lesson on never underestimating a ranked contender regardless of the name recognition.

Jeison Rosario knocked out Julian “J Rock” Williams who was making the first defense of the WBA and IBF super welterweight world titles he won last year in my selection as “Fight of the Year.”

Rosario walked in with little recognition and was thought to be a soggy piece of bread for Williams. The long armed Dominican fighter walloped Williams in front of his hometown fans in Philadelphia. It was yet another warning for fans to understand that anyone who steps in the boxing ring ranked as a contender can do the unthinkable. In this case Rosario knocked out the champion in five rounds.

Many felt Williams was far too skilled, especially on the inside where he showcased those skills last May against former titlist Jarret Hurd. It was a remarkable display of the art of inside fighting. But against Rosario, he never got a chance to exhibit those skills.

The loaded super welterweight division has another dangerous champion in Rosario.

Fights to Watch

Thurs. 6 p.m. DAZN – Jason Quigley (17-1) vs Fernando Marin (16-4-3).

Sat. 6 p.m. Showtime – Danny Garcia (35-2) vs Ivan Redkach (23-4-1).

Check out more boxing news on video at The Boxing Channel 

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