MEATY MORSELS ON B-HOP’S FAREWELL CARD — The “Final One” fight card at the Inglewood Forum on Saturday is much more than just a goodbye. A number of the West Coast’s best prospects, contenders and one current world champion will be on display.
The multi-promotion card features WBO cruiserweight champion Oleksandr Usyk (10-0, 9 KOs) defending against Thabiso Mchunu (17-2) in the co-main event sponsored by K2 Promotions. It’s one of three fights HBO will televise.
Cruiserweights don’t make news in the U.S. but in Eastern Europe tremendous interest exists.
Usyk, formerly of Ukraine, now makes Southern California his home. But his title-winning fight took place in Poland where he defeated Krzysztof Glowacki this past September. A win on Saturday could set up a collision with another East European now living in California. That fighter is Murat Gassiev, the new IBF cruiserweight champion, who lives and trains in Big Bear.
“That’s a fight we are definitely interested in,” said Tom Loeffler, director of K2 Promotions that sponsors Usyk.
This title defense by Usyk can be seen as an audition for HBO and viewers. A clash with hard-hitting Gassiev could be electrifying. And it can be easy to make. Gassiev trains with Abel Sanchez who also trains Gennady Golovkin. K2 has “Triple G.”
American viewers will also get a look at Ireland’s middleweight prospect Jason Quigley (pictured) who also makes Southern California his home.
Quigley, 25, moved to the Los Angeles area more than two years ago in what he describes as “culture shock” until he adjusted to the different food and weather. One day he’s in the colder climate of Ireland, the next day he’s living on the beach area of Redondo Beach.
“I really enjoy walking on the beach,” said Quigley (11-0, 9 KOs) adding that the warmer temperatures are easy to accept. “It didn’t take long to adjust.”
Inside the boxing ring, Quigley has immediately attracted fans with his attacking style and combination of speed, power, skill and good looks. It’s become sort of a trademark of Golden Boy Promotions to sign fighters with that combination. It was a winning combination for the owner Oscar De La Hoya and it still works.
Quigley makes sure it works and has blitzed through nearly a dozen opponents. Only two heard the final bell against “El Animal.”
El Animal, a nickname given to him by a matchmaker, faces Puerto Rican veteran Jorge Melendez (30-7-1). The Boricua has fought numerous prospects like Quigley in the past. He’s derailed a few of them along the way.
Ironically, another Golden Boy Promotions sponsored middleweight is on the card named Yamaguchi Falcao of Brazil.
Falcao (11-0, 5 KOs) fights Mexico’s German Perez (11-2-3) in a battle of left-handed middleweights. The Brazilian seems to be on the slower road. Could he be facing Quigley soon? It could happen next year.
After a war between major promotion companies over the summer, Golden Boy Promotions won the rights to sign Victorville’s Ryan “Kingry” Garcia.
Garcia, a tall, super quick, and multi-talented boxer with De La Hoya-type looks, was one of the most sought after amateur fighters not participating in the Olympics this past summer.
At 17, Garcia crossed over the border to see what kind of challenge he could find and obliterated four Mexican opponents in their backyard. Three were knocked out and the last was aided by the hometown referee.
“I fought at midnight. I dropped him (the opponent) two times but he (the referee) didn’t call it not once and he took a point away from me,” said Garcia of his win by decision in Tijuana, Mexico this past July. “It was a lot of obstacles I had to overcome.”
Shortly after, Garcia turned 18 and crossed back to California where he made his American pro debut. At the Exchange in downtown L.A. the slender lightweight out-punched Puerto Rico’s Jonathan Cruz in August, then, stopped Mario Aguirre at the Sportsman Lodge in Studio City in October.
Last month Golden Boy announced Garcia was one of theirs.
The Victorville lightweight Garcia (6-0, 5 KOs) faces Jose Martinez (6-7, 6 KOs) in a six round fight.
Garcia is not shy. Immediately the lightweight with lightning hands has been spotted in gyms from Las Vegas to Santa Monica. He’s been seen in fight cards throughout Southern California. Wherever he goes it’s like a tornado jumping from spot to spot.
“Most of the time I kind of travel to Vegas and Victorville, whatever is convenient, either way I work out hard. I don’t want to get outworked so I train very hard,” said Garcia who spars with pros like Jorge Linares and Yuri Gamboa. “Vasyl Lomachenko, he showed me how to use feet, angles and distance. Those three fighters helped me learn and develop.”
Garcia has the tools but is still developing into a pro style fighter. After a standout amateur career that saw him win more than a dozen national titles, the tools needed in the amateur world are quite different from the pro world.
“The timing is a little bit different because the head is smaller than head gear,” said Garcia about aiming for the head as a target than for head gear worn by amateurs during fights.
De La Hoya has told Garcia that he will show him some tricks of the trade. The 18-year-old has an abundance of talent and is worth watching closely. He still has some kinks such as not tucking in his chin and leaving openings while he fires speedy combinations, but if he can take a pro punch, he will go far.
Confidence is not lacking for the Southern California gem, but he’s fully aware of the dangers.
“One punch can change the fight,” he says.
Yes, he’s fully aware.
Doors open at 2 p.m. Tickets are still available for this powerful and historic fight card.
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