CARSON, Calif., May 3, 2018 – Cinco de Mayo marks a special day on boxing’s calendar. The sport’s top competitors all want the chance to put on a show for fans who flock to arenas to celebrate the day with a little boxeo on May 5, none more so than in Las Vegas and Los Angeles.
Rising star Ryan Garcia (14-0, 13 KOs) of Victorville, California, and Irish middleweight Gary “Spike” O’Sullivan (27-2, 19 KOs), a fan favorite, both looked forward to performing in Las Vegas as part of the Canelo Alvarez vs. Gennady Golovkin rematch. But when the event fell apart due to positive drug tests by Alvarez, Garcia and O’Sullivan found themselves left stranded.
Fortunately for them and for Southern California fight fans, it was only temporary. The pair now lead their own fight card on Friday night, May 4 at the Stub Hub Center arena in Carson, California. “I can’t wait,” said Garcia. “This is what I wanted. Amazing fights have been at the Stub Hub Center. So for me to be a part of that, and now I get to headline it May 4th, Cinco de Mayo weekend, it couldn’t have gotten better than that. It’s like a dream come true.”
Kicking off Cinco de Mayo weekend at the top of their own card isn’t such a bad thing. ESPN2 and ESPN Deportes provides national coverage starting at 10:30 p.m. ET/7:30 p.m. PT. ESPN 3 stremed the entire card starting at 9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT.
The Justin Bieber of boxing, Ryan Garcia
The charismatic Garcia, just 19 years old, faces Jayson Velez of Puerto Rico in a classic May 5 matchup at junior featherweight. Velez (26-4-1, 18 KOs) will be Garcia’s most significant challenge to date. He’s on a three bout win streak, including a knockout win against Juan Manuel Lopez in March. Velez is an aggressive boxer-puncher who likes to go to the body, and he’s promised “a war” with Garcia.
Garcia’s last two fights ended with barely four minutes in the ring – total. He knocked out former featherweight contender Fernando Vargas at the end of the first round with a stunning left hook in March. “My last fight, it was crazy,” recalls Garcia. “I thought I was going to do more rounds. I’d seen him go ten rounds in a title fight. But in my fights, anything can happen. I seen an opportunity caught him with the left hook and let it go.”
Garcia only needed 30 seconds to stop his previous opponent Miguel Carrizoza in September, putting him on the canvas twice before the fight was over. While Velez is a significant step up and an opponent who in theory should take Garcia into deeper water, that’s also what everyone thought in the last two bouts. Garcia says he’s prepared to go the distance if needed. “Velez is a durable fighter, he’s never been knocked out. He likes to throw body shots and he comes to fight. I have to stay focused, follow the game plan, and that’s it.”
Garcia is quickly becoming the Justin Bieber of boxing, with a devoted following of female fans. They love him and he loves them back. “It’s crazy how many people are coming to support this fight I’m having. That support is what keeps me going, keeps me energized, motivated and ready to go,” said Garcia. Plenty of those young women have their older sisters, moms, and grandmothers with them.
Gary O’Sullivan goes old school in the great Irish tradition
In the co-main event, another fighter with a big personality makes his first ever appearance west of the Mississippi at the Stub Hub Center. Gary “Spike” O’Sullivan draws attention with his memorable old-school look featuring a handle bar mustache, and a fun-loving, bare knuckles attitude. The hard-hitting Irishman, 33, hopes to extend his five bout win streak against Berlin Abreu of Puerto Rico (14-1, 11 KOs).
While Abreu fought earlier in his career at junior middleweight, the bout against Sullivan is his first middleweight fight. Sullivan will defend his WBO Inter-Continental Middleweight title against Abreu, whose only loss was a TKO defeat at the hands of Sammy Vasquez in 2014. Abreu comes off an 18 month layoff, fighting only once in the U.S. the past four years. O’Sullivan should have every opportunity to make a splash at Stub Hub.
Seniesa Estrada counting on quick KOs to get a little TV airtime
ESPN will need a swing bout in the wings given the likelihood neither of these two bouts will go the distance. It’s a golden opportunity for Los Angeles native Seniesa “Superbad” Estrada to show what she’s got to fans nationwide. The undefeated flyweight (12-0, 2 KOs) faces Amarillis Adorno of Puerto Rico (1-6) in a scheduled six round bout.
It will be Estrada’s second appearance at Stub Hub, and she’s happy to have her own fan base among women. “It feels great to have young girls following me. When I grew up, I didn’t have many girls in boxing to look up to. I looked up to Roy Jones, Jr. So I’m happy girls are looking up to me.”
Estrada says she’s extremely motivated in her own Mexico vs. Puerto Rico matchup. ”I’m proud to represent my country and proud to be representing everything a fighter fights for, especially on a big weekend (like Cinco de Mayo),” said Estrada. Estrada, who recently signed on with Golden Boy Promotions after not having a promoter, said she loves being more active instead of having six and seven month layoffs between fights. “Now I’m going right back in there, I feel like I’m going to be 120 percent prepared,” declared Estrada.
Gayle Lynn Falkenthal, APR, is President/Owner of the Falcon Valley Group in San Diego, California. She is also a veteran boxing observer covering the Sweet Science for Communities. Read more Ringside Seat in Communities Digital News. Follow Gayle on Facebook and on Twitter @PRProSanDiego.
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