Mikey Garcia sticks around at welterweight, faces Jessie Vargas Saturday
SAN DIEGO, Calif. February 28, 2020 – Four-division champion Mikey Garcia is a little stubborn. Despite losing his welterweight in a blowout on the scorecards by Errol Spence, Jr., he’s not giving up so easily at winning a fifth division title.
Garcia (39-1, 30 KOs) gives things another go right back where he was a year ago in Texas against fellow Californian Jessie Vargas of Las Vegas (29-2-2, 11 KOs). Just a few weeks after Garcia’s loss, Vargas blasted through veteran Humberto Soto on the Estrada vs Rungvisai undercard at The Forum, scoring his first knockout win in five years.
The main fight card airs starting at 8 pm ET/5 pm PT on DAZN USA, with undercards airing starting at 6 pm ET/3 pm PT from The Star in Frisco, Texas, the location of the Dallas Cowboys training campus.
Garcia: ‘There’s a lot more I can do’
A vacant WBC minor title is at stake, but that’s not really important. What’s at stake for Garcia is whether he can make a mark campaigning at welterweight during the next few years of his career. “I’m here to do one thing, and that’s take over the show. There’s a lot more to Mikey Garcia,” he said.
“The Spence fight was not a representation of that. It wasn’t my night and not the fight I wanted to fight. I just couldn’t perform, and once in a while, you have an off night. It happened to be that night for me. I need to show my fans and the boxing world that I can do a lot more, even at 147 pounds,” said Garcia. He says a title in a fifth division is why he’s staying put for now – but he’s keeping his options open.
“I’m going to display all my skills and be a contender in the welterweight division, promised Garcia. “We landed on Vargas (as an opponent) because he’s a two-weight champion, solid career, big size, and has height. He’s everything that people have been telling me I shouldn’t be fighting, but I’m going to do everything I can to win this fight … Jessie is a warrior. It will push me to get the best out of me.
Vargas: ‘I am in my prime now’
Vargas has fought at welterweight since 2014. His only losses came to Manny Pacquiao and Tim Bradley, Jr., no disgrace in facing these two future Hall of Fame fighters and coming up short. Many fans believe Vargas had a chance to pull out the victory against Bradley, if not for a timing snafu with the bell at the end of the final round after he had Bradley seriously hurt.
Vargas was among the first fighters to sign with Eddie Hearn’s Matchroom Boxing USA and the first headliner on a DAZN show in the U.S., a draw with Thomas Dulorme in Chicago in October 2018, followed by his sixth-round KO win of Soto last April
“I definitely feel that I am in my prime now,” at age 30, said Vargas. “Experience is what really makes a fighter. Sometimes in a big fight, a lack of experience can affect you, but I am not in that position, I’m good and everything is good on my side. Every fighter wants to become a world champion and I’ve done that twice already, and now I want to become world champion for a third time.
“We are giving the fans what they want to see. Mikey is a terrific fighter and we are going to give the fans a great fight, it has all the ingredients to be like a Barerra-Morales style trilogy, you never know,” said Vargas.
“I know Mikey is a good fighter. The moment the bell rings it’s fight time. I plan on giving a fantastic performance so you acknowledge that I’m the best in the division. This isn’t an easy fight but either way I’m coming to win. I’ve done my homework,” said Vargas.
Welterweight firewall holding for now
With a majority of the division’s top talent tied up behind the Premier Boxing Champions firewall, a trilogy between Garcia and Vargas keeps them busy until the rest of the division sorts itself out. If Garcia prevails, he’s the likely winner of the Manny Pacquiao sweepstakes for a bout during the Philippines Senate summer break.
Disappointing pay per view figures for the Wilder Fury 2 fight don’t strengthen the case for another expensive cross-promotional matchup between Terence Crawford and Errol Spence, Jr. There’s also no guarantee Spence Jr. is fully recovered from his monstrous car accident last year.
Roman ‘Chocolatito’ Gonzalez ready for one last run
Saturday’s co-main event features one-time pound-for-pound list leader Roman “Chocolatito” Gonzalez gearing up for one final run at restoring a title to his name in the super flyweight division. The 32-year-old Nicaraguan star (48-2, 40 KOs) faces young talent Khalid (Kal) Yafai of Birmingham, England (26-0, 15 KOs) for the vacant WBA World Super Flyweight title.
It’s a fascinating matchup. Yafai hasn’t faced an opponent with Gonzalez’s pedigree. Gonzalez has been working his way back up the division rankings since back to back losses against Srisikat Sor Rungvisai of Thailand in 2017. He’s scored two stoppage wins since then. Are there powerhouse performances still left in “Chocolatito”? Or will fans see a changing of the guard on Saturday?
“I look up to Roman, so it’s going to be hard to fight him,” admitted Yafai. “I’m in the best shape, no stone unturned. I’ll give it everything I can. Looking forward to a massive fight on Saturday night. Don’t blink it will be a huge fight.”
Gonzalez said he’s in excellent condition for this fight. “I will take advantage of this opportunity. There’s not a small person in this fight; everyone is very good. I come with a blessing that I will win. Thank you and hope this sport of boxing will be a spectacle for everyone.”
Undercard cheat sheet: Joseph Parker, Israil Madrimov appear; Martinez vs Harris in flyweight contest
Saturday’s opening bout on the main card features top 15 heavyweight Joseph Parker of New Zealand (26-2, 20 KOs) in what should be an easy outing against 39-year-old Shawndell Winters of Harvey, Illinois (13-2, 12 KOs).
Mexican flyweight Julio Cesar Martinez (15-1 12 KOs) makes the first defense of his WBC World Flyweight title against unbeaten European champion Jay Harris of Wales (17-0, 9 KOs) in what should be an all-action fight.
Israil Madrimov (4-0, 4 KOs) defends his WBA Inter-Continental Junior-Middleweight title in a title eliminator against Venezuelan Charlie Navarro (29-9 22 KOs). Madrimov is part of the impressive stable of Uzbek fighters in Indio, California trained by Joel Diaz.
Eighteen-year-old super middleweight Diego Pacheco of Los Angeles (8-0 7 KOs) gets work against veteran Oscar Riojas of Mexico (21-12-1. 10 KOs), and 20-year-old super middleweight Alexis Espino of Las Vegas (5-0, 4 KOs) will do the same against Delvecchio Savage of Tuscaloosa (3-5, 3 KOs). Keep an eye on these exciting young talents / Gayle Lynn Falkenthal is 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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