FIGHT NIGHT AT THE BELASCO — No digs at the 80s iconic movie but in prizefighting a sure thing may be the rarest of all discoveries.
Several touted prospects of varying degrees step forward on Friday Feb. 3, at the beautiful Belasco Theater in downtown Los Angeles. The fight card will be televised by Estrella TV and streamed by RingTV.Live.
At least two of these prospects are razor close to being a sure thing.
Joshua Franco (8-0, 4 KOs) headlines the main event when he faces Vic Pasillas (8-6-2) of Mexico in a super flyweight bout set for eight rounds.
Franco, 21, who hails from San Antonio, Texas, trains in Riverside, California under the tutelage of Robert Garcia. He faces Pasillas who is not the same guy who fights out of East Los Angeles and is signed by Top Rank. When they first announced Pasillas as the opponent I wondered why such a difficult fight?
But this is not the Pasillas of East L.A.
“It’s not that Pasillas,” said Franco with a chuckle.
Franco has steadily climbed the ladder toward refinement. Since his pro debut in August 2015, the patience and alertness he’s adapted has slowly molded his skills into a true professional. There’s no more wildness or erratic combinations.
“I’m getting more patient in the ring. At first I was a little bit jittery. I’m setting down on my punches a little more. I feel a lot more confident,” said Franco, 21, who has been training at Robert Garcia Boxing Academy for more than a year now.
The fighter known as “the Professor” looks forward to fighting Pasillas and proving he’s ready for 10-round fights soon.
“In the gym I spar with world champions. I spar with Abner Mares, Jose Aguiniga, he’s an ex world champion. And I sparred with Carlos Cuadras,” said Franco about the benefits of training at RGBA. “When you spar with them you know it’s good sparring and they’re world champions so I can fight with anybody.”
Hector “El Finito” Tanajara (7-0, 4 KOs) faces big bopper Balthazar Ramirez (3-2, 3 KOs) in a lightweight clash set for six rounds.
Like Franco, the lean lightweight Tanajara also hails from San Antonio and trains at RGBA in Riverside, California. The 20-year-old has shown a blend of polished skills and excellent athleticism in the boxing ring. This time he faces a dangerous puncher.
“I know he (Ramirez) won all his fights by knockout. So he has pretty good power. It’s all that we know (about him) but it’s something to be aware of,” said Tanajara. “Not make a lot of adjustments, just be a little more cautious. If I feel like he doesn’t have that power then I take chances. But I will be more cautious with him.”
Tanajara witnessed his sparring mate Mikey Garcia win a world title in a third weight division by brutal knockout last Saturday in Las Vegas. He’s in awe of Garcia who he considers a mentor and trainer along with the rest of the Garcia clan.
“I was there the whole camp and I was training with him. To see him win the world championship again was motivation. I hope I become world champion like him,” said Tanajara of new WBC lightweight titlist Mikey Garcia. “I sparred with him before. Every time you go in there with him it’s a lesson because he’s the world champion. He’s a great boxer and you never know what to do against him.”
Another who trains at the Garcia boxing gym in Riverside is East L.A.’s Jonathan “Thunder” Navarro (7-0, 5 KOs). He will be meeting Angel Martinez (5-6-3) in a super lightweight showdown set for six rounds. He also was impressed with Mikey Garcia’s knockout win last Saturday in Las Vegas.
“It didn’t surprise me but it amazed me. To knock him out in just three rounds it amazed me that how fast he (Mikey Garcia) could knock out the WBC champion,” said Navarro, 20. “Knowing that he (former champion Dejan Zlaticanin) comes in hard and he’s a strong fighter. Mikey’s power is real.”
Navarro also wields good power and has been learning how to blend other aspects of boxing with his natural gifts by getting in the ring with new WBC champion Mikey Garcia to spar.
“I’m always sparring with him. I felt the power I felt the speed, the leg movement, all that. He’s just a great fighter,” said Navarro of sparring with his mentor Mikey Garcia. “With Mikey it taught me to be more on my toes and use more head movement. And with Tanajara, the same thing. You are always learning.”
Though he’s the youngest of the prospects Ryan “Kingry” Garcia has opened a few eyes with his speed, power and charisma.
Standing around 6-feet tall and expected to weigh 135 pounds at fight time, he’s a walking nightmare to anyone opposing him. At press time the promoters could not nail down an opponent. Ryan Garcia appears to be winning by knockout without landing a punch. Reputations can go far.
“We already had 10 opponents pull out,” said Garcia, 18, with just a hint of disappointment. “I really want to fight and show the people what I can do.”
So far what Ryan Garcia has done is blow by seven foes with the force of one of those devil winds roaring down the Cajon Pass. Just like the wind he roams from gym to gym, and state to state. One day he’s in Los Angeles, the next day in Las Vegas. He’s like a gunslinger who’s already cleaned out Tombstone and is now heading for Dodge City.
“I like to get different styles. In SoCal there’s a lot of pressure fighters but also in Vegas there’s a lot of boxers, so I like to get the best of both worlds,” said Ryan Garcia. “If I need work for a pressure fighter I stay here. If I need work for a good boxer I go to Vegas and work with the best fighters.”
At press time Edgar Garcia was mentioned as the tentative opponent but a contract had not been signed.
“I need that fight. A lot of hype is coming behind it and I need that fight,” said Victorville, California’s Garcia. “I’ve seen so many great fighters fight at the Belasco and now it’s my turn. I’m not going to take it lightly.”
Hopefully the fight can be made. In Ryan Garcia’s last match, at the Inglewood Forum last December, he blitzed Jose Antonio Martinez in less than three rounds. The crowd was mesmerized.
Is Ryan Garcia the sure thing? Or is it Tanajara, Navarro or Franco?
Doors open at 5 p.m. at Belasco Theater. For more information call (213) 746-1606.
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