Liam Walsh Previews Martinez vs Garcia
BoxNation viewers get a chance to witness one of the sport’s rising global starlets this weekend when feted Californian Miguel Angel ‘Mikey’ Garcia attempts to become a two-weight world champion.
On Saturday evening at the American Bank Center, Corpus Christi, Texas, the 25 year old Mexican descendant – unbeaten in 32 with 27 quick wins – challenges hardened Puerto Rican brawler Roman ‘Rocky’ Martinez for the WBO super-feather spoils.
Watch the whole card – which also includes the featherweight rematch between Nonito Donaire and Vic Darchinyan plus the clash between Vanes Martirosyan and Demetrius Andrade for the vacant WBO World Light-Middleweight strap – live and exclusive in the UK by tuning into The Channel of Champions from 1.30am on Sunday morning (Sky Ch.437/Virgin Ch.546). Join at www.boxnation.com
To dissect the main event for us this week, boxing writer Glynn Evans called up Cromer’s unbeaten and world rated Commonwealth super-featherweight boss Liam Walsh and this was his assessment.
“I’m looking forward to this Big Time and I’ll definitely be staying up to catch it ‘live’ which will completely ruin the rest of my Sunday!
I first got into ‘Mikey’ Garcia about six or seven fights ago, long before he won a world title and everybody started raving about him. As soon as I saw him, I phoned up our Ryan (his twin brother and fellow pro) to alert him that Garcia was destined to become one of the very best. I’ve followed him religiously since.
I already think that Garcia is in the top five fighters, pound-for-pound, in the world but Saturday night will be a really good yardstick. Nobody yet has done a real number on Martinez but, if Garcia beats him as easily as I expect him to, it’ll make a massive statement.
I’ve watched Martinez quite a few times, obviously his UK fights with Nicky Cook and Ricky Burns, plus his recent title defence against Victor Burgos. That was a really brutal fight – all of Roman’s fights are – but I felt Martinez deserved the win, landed the cleaner, heavier shots.
For me, ‘Rocky’ doesn’t have 10% of the skills or boxing brain that Garcia possesses but he’s extremely strong and tough. Even when Ricky Burns delivered his only loss (pts12, September 2010), Ricky didn’t really beat him up. Martinez gave a gritty performance in defeat.
Before that, Nicky Cook had been doing very well, out boxing Martinez, before he got clipped in round four. ‘Rocky’ effectively turned that fight with just one shot so clearly he punches very hard. Billy Nelson (trainer of Ricky Burns) said you could hear these really sickening thuds every time he landed on Ricky. And I believe Martinez is a much better fighter now than he was when he fought over here against Cook and Burns.
Basically, ‘Rocky’ is a very, very hard man who might not be blessed with the greatest amount of natural ability or lateral movement but who really plays to his strengths. He’s very aggressive, always ‘in your face’, and his work rate is very high. That’s why all his fights are very exciting to watch.
Also, he’s absolutely huge for the division yet manages to make weight well. I read in the last few days that, for this fight, he’s already within two pounds of the super-feather limit.
Martinez is very strong physically and naturally tough and hardy. He seems to take a good dig. He’s been in with a lot of top kids and, to my knowledge and research, no one has had him over or come close to stopping him.
On the downside, he doesn’t seem to have too many gears and struggles to change the pace but I can’t ‘diss’ Martinez too much. You have to credit Burns for doing a cracking job on him rather than pick faults with ‘Rocky’.
But Garcia is really special; technically flawless. What’s not to like about him other than he’s in the same weight division as me?!
He’s a thinker and I love his calmness. Clearly, he’s got very heavy hands but he doesn’t go looking to land the big shots. He’s got a perfect grasp of range; jabs, then drops off six inches, jabs, then drops off six inches, then nails opponents with that big right hand as they come on to him in frustration. ‘Mikey’ punches very correctly and his timing is wicked. He breaks the opposition down systematically.
When I’m analysing fighters in my weight class, I’m always trying to pick holes, identify ways that they can be beaten. With Garcia, I can’t find any flaws. He’s that good. I can’t see any one at super-feather really testing him.
He’s probably got the frame to move up to lightweight, and even light-welter, and I think he’ll need to do that if he’s to be really stretched. The fights I’d most like to see him in would be against (interim WBA lightweight champion) Yuriorkis Gamboa or (WBO lightweight king) Ricky Burns. But I’d back Garcia to beat both comfortably.
Though Gamboa is very slick and fast, there’s a question mark about his whiskers and I just sense Garcia would be a bit too good all round for Burns. Ricky is very gritty and has a great jab but I believe Mikey’s is even better and if Ricky can’t tame you on the end of his jab he tends to struggle a bit. Still, they’d be very interesting fights that would bring out the best in Garcia.
Perhaps the only blip against Mikey is that, even though he’s from such a huge and famous boxing family, he treats boxing as just a hobby, something that he’s good at and can use to pay the bills. He started pretty late and really wanted to be a law enforcement officer. How much is his heart in it?
I know he got a lot of flak when he bailed out on his stool after Orlando Salido nutted him and broke his nose (Garcia was awarded a technical decision after eight rounds last January). But I think that was more his corner’s call. They knew that ‘Mikey’ was miles in front after he’d dropped Salido four times in the opening four rounds. It’s easy to say that Garcia should have been a warrior and just fought on but the job was already done. I don’t want to criticise because I don’t know how I’d react if put in a similar situation.
Also, he got a bit of negative press for failing to make the weight and conceding his featherweight title on the scales before his last fight with Juanma Lopez. Some say it’s effectively cheating, because it’s getting those last few pounds off that really takes it out of a fighter and Lopez had put himself through the agony to make weight.
But I don’t think Garcia did it deliberately. He got pretty close, to within a couple of pounds. He probably walks around a good stone and a half above featherweight and, when you’re still growing, you can’t really put a time frame on when you’ll outgrow a division. They reckon Garcia was barely eating for a week before his fights down at 126.
At super-feather, he’ll be even more formidable. He’s absolutely massive so should have no trouble carrying his power up. I don’t think rising in weight will make him more vulnerable against the heavier hitters at 130lbs because he seldom gets hit.
Because of that, I’d be really shocked and a bit gutted if Martinez managed to ‘do’ him. The champions only hope would be to get on Garcia from the very start, hunt the body, perhaps be a bit dirty and try to ruffle Garcia’s feathers. Mikey seems to be a very nice guy and that could perhaps upset him.
That’s probably ‘Rocky’s’ best option but it might prove a suicide pack. If he shows little regard for Garcia’s power he’s likely to get taken out. Salido tried those tactics and look what happened to him.
Though Garcia enters a huge favourite (6-1 on), this is a fight where we should find out so much about exactly how good he can become. I’m not expecting too many thrills and spills. The first four rounds should be the most interesting with Martinez giving it his all. But once Garcia starts to get his measure, expect a clinic; a one sided ‘beat down’ from one of the masters.
Martinez has never been close to being stopped but I’ll tip Garcia to make a huge statement and get him out of there sometime after round eight. I just think Martinez will be taking too much punishment.”