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18 Jan 2013
BoxNation kickstarts its international campaign for 2013 with live coverage of HBO's triple world title bonanza from Madison Square Garden, New York City on Saturday evening.
Pick of the bunch has to be the WBO featherweight clash in which grizzled Mexican champion Orlando Salido enters his third defence against California's Miguel Angel 'Mikey' Garcia as a 2/1 underdog.
Starting as the unfavoured pick is nothing new to the 32 year old from Sonoro. During a 17 year, 52 fight pro career that commenced at the age of just 15, 'Siri' has shared the ring canvas with Juan Manuel Marquez (lpts12), Roberto Guerrero (No Contest 12, after Salido tested positive for a steroid), Cristobal Cruz (lpts12, twice) and Yuriorkis Gamboa (lpts12).
However, belatedly, with 11 defeats already on his card, he has hit a rich vein of form over the past two years. He has twice defused and outlasted Puerto Rico's vicious hitting Juanma Lopez (30-0 entering their first dust-up), to record stoppage wins in eight, then ten rounds. Both victories were executed in his victim's home nation.
This is one seriously tough hombre; strong, rugged, sometimes crude but increasingly savvy and battle hardened over the 12 round championship trip.
It is a measure of the esteem in which challenger Garcia's talent is held that he enters this, his first world title gig, as the bookmakers' fancy.
Boxing is clearly in the Californian's DNA. Father Eduardo was the long term trainer-mentor to, among many others, ex WBA/IBF light-middle champion Fernando Vargas, while elder brothers Danny and Robert preceded him as prizefighters. The latter was once IBF super-featherweight champ and now heads his brother's coaching team.
Despite the rich family fighting heritage, 'Mikey', the youngest
of seven, initially rejected the sport and his amateur bow was
delayed until after his 14th birthday.
Since entering the paid sphere in July 2006, the now 25 year old father of two has racked up 30 successive wins against progressively taxing opposition, with all but four failing to make it to the finishing post. He's ready to step up.
In addition to his concrete fists, he is a neat and classy technician who boxes 'smart first, brave second'. He is far smoother and more versatile than the champion but his career thus far has been conducted at a level several rungs below. Win or lose, this fight should reveal significantly more about his resilience and his thirst for combat when it gets 'down and dirty'.
For Garcia to succeed, it's imperative he retains his discipline and controls a box-off, rather than succumbing to a 'tear-up', for as long as he is able. Inevitably, there'll be times when he's forced to bite hard on his mouth guard and negotiate some rocky patches, particularly if the fight extends past half way, as I feel it will.
But I sense that, ultimately, the young challenger's greater class and freshness will prevail. For me, it's Garcia by stoppage, probably in the final quarter. If he gets through this, he could evolve into a major star.
The world middleweight division is presently overloaded with
talent such as Sergio Martinez, Julio Cesar Chavez Jnr, Daniel
Geale, Peter Quillin, Dmitry Pirog plus the British trio of Matt
Macklin, Darren Barker and Martin Murray.
However, none are showing much enthusiasm to chance their arm against Kazakhstan's unbeaten WBA king Gennady Golovkin who instead defends against Philadelphia's underrated but probably undersized Gabriel Rosado.
A product of the excessively harsh Kazakh amateur regime, the 30 year old ex-world amateur champion and 2004 Olympic silver medallist has already clattered 24 consecutive pro opponents, with 21 capitulating early.
His angel face and slim frame disguise potent power and all the compassion of a guillotine operator. In the amateur code he scalped the likes of Andy Lee, Matt Korobov, Andre Dirrell and annihilated Lucien Bute inside schedule.
Since debuting under Stuttgart based promoters Universum in May 2006, he has had things very much his own way and is yet to go beyond the ten rounds it took him to maul ex IBF light-middle king Kassim Ouma 19 months ago. All six of his WBA title fights have been brought to an early conclusion.
Following an acrimonious split with the Germans, he realigned
with the Klitschko's K2 Promotions and is encamped in the Big Bear
Mountains in California where coach Abel Sanchez - guru behind Hall
of Famer Terry Norris, no less - lists Golovkin as the biggest
talent he's been involved with.
This shall be his second consecutive HBO televised US start, after Poland's reigning European champion Greg Proksa was forced to kiss the canvas three times prior to being dispatched in five in upstate New York last September. Rosado, a 9-1 underdog, is commonly believed to be heading to a similar fate.
The challenger, a Puerto Rican descendant, enters with moderate 21-5 (13) stats that were largely accumulated down in the light-middleweight division. Don't be too deceived by them.
Rosado joined the pro ranks in January 2006, aged 20, after just
11 amateur bouts. All five setbacks came in his first 19 bouts
while he was a part-time pro yet only mallet-fisted Mexican Alfredo
Angulo (rsc2) managed to put him away early.
Since working alongside the great Bernard Hopkins, the 6ft Phillie fighter has developed into an altogether tighter and smarter article. Over the last 30 months he has been victorious in seven straight, five ahead of schedule, to earn mandatory challenger status to IBF light-middle boss Cornelius Bundrage. It is testament to Rosado's courage and confidence that he snubbed that to confront Golovkin.
However, it's a decision I fear he will grow to regret. The Kazakh champion might just be Top Dog in a talent loaded division and an explosive performance on HBO provides the best means to secure the unification fights that will help him to prove it. Expect him to deliver on Saturday night.
Golovkin by stoppage, any time before round eight.
In a third championship spat, Puerto Rico's Roman 'Rocky'
Martinez opens the defence of his second stint on the WBO
super-featherweight strap against Mexico's Juan Carlos Burgos. With
combined stats of 56-2-1, and with 36 kayos, it promises to be
The 29 year old champion will be familiar to British fans, having begun and concluded his initial reign in the UK. In March 2009, he brutally dispatched Dagenham's Nicky Cook with left hooks (rsc4) to collect the belt then, after twice retaining by kayo, he was tamed over 12 rounds by Ricky Burns at Glasgow's Kelvin Hall in September 2010.
Formidably big and powerful for 130lbs, the man from Vega Baja
regained the vacant belt last September, prevailing by split
decision against Mexico's 27-1 Miguel Beltran Jnr in Vegas, a win
which raises his stats to 26-1-1 (16).
A tough, swarming pressure fighter with heavy hands and a strong jaw, Martinez isn't shy to oblige the division's elite and appears to have found another stiff test in Burgos.
The 25 year old Mexican, an inch taller at 5ft 9in, has lost just once in a 31 fight career that began in December 2004, at the age of 16. That reverse came in November 2010 in Nagoya, Japan when home southpaw Hozumi Hasegawa decisioned him over 12 in a ruck for the vacant WBC crown, down at featherweight.
A nephew of ex IBF light-flyweight king Victor Burgos, Tijuana
based- Juan Carlos has re-established himself with five highly
credible wins over the likes of 19-0 Luis Cruz, ex IBF feather boss
Cristobal Cruz (both pts10) and 25-0 Cesar Vasquez (rsc3).
It promises to be frighteningly competitive and the bookies can't split them. However, I'll tentatively plump for challenger Burgos, the more rounded and better polished, to eke out a decision after 12 savage rounds.
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