Usually the month of June is reserved for graduation but in the case of prizefighting September provides the moment of truth for a number of prospects looking to inch toward the big time.
Back-to-back fight cards by Golden Boy Promotions, TGB Promotions and K2 Promotions unveil some of their brightest, beginning on Friday Sept. 15, at the MGM Grand Marquee Ballroom, and ending on Saturday Sept. 16, across the street from the MGM Grand at the T-Mobile Arena.
One of the brightest, Ryan “Kingry” Garcia (10-0, 9 KOs), has blazed his way past other Golden Boy prospects and meets Mexico’s Miguel Carrizoza (10-2, 2 KOs) for the vacant junior NABF super featherweight title. The eight-round bout will open the ESPN telecast at 4:30 p.m. PT.
If you’ve never seen Garcia fight in person or on television, then a surprise is in store for you. Tall for a 130-pounder, the Victorville boxer (pictured) reminds many of a young Oscar De La Hoya — not just for his youthful looks, but for his cat-like quickness that has to be seen to appreciate the difference between quick and ultra-quick.
Garcia, 19, also packs power in both hands and despite facing a graduated level of competition, he’s quickly wiped them out. This will be his first title attempt.
“I’m ready for this fight,” he said. “I’m hungry.”
As an amateur Garcia won 15 national titles and has not skipped a beat as a professional, but like any youngster with supreme firepower, defense can be the ultimate litmus test.
Will Carrizoza be the one to put the brakes on the rapid rise of Garcia and test his defense?
Few have been able to put hands on Garcia who uses his height very well and can be an imposing figure with his rapid-fire combinations. Every opponent has been dropped by Garcia including the lone fighter who heard the final bell.
Boston’s Rashidi Ellis (18-0, 12 KOs) recently won a battle of prospects and now faces Juan Carlos Abreu (19-3-1, 18 KOs) of the Dominican Republic. Ellis showed focus and sharp-shooting ability in winning the vacant IBF North American welterweight title against New York’s Eddie Gomez at Fantasy Springs Casino last December. But his last performance ended in a majority decision. This title defense against Abreu will probably go all the way too. Abreu has shown a very good chin. Still, when Ellis is on, he is on.
Desert fighters clash on Saturday
Former bantamweight world titlist Randy Caballero (24-0, 14 KOs) of Coachella and Diego De La Hoya (19-0, 9 KOs) of Mexicali will be clashing for the NABF super bantamweight title at the T-Mobile arena. It will be on the HBO pay-per-view telecast.
Both train a mere two miles away from each other in the Coachella desert.
Caballero, 26, a professional since 2010, has been stymied by injuries and illness at the wrong time. When he won the vacant IBF bantamweight title against Stuart Hall three years ago many expected stardom for the flashy and talented Caballero. Lady Luck has not been in his corner.
“My injury kept me away and now I just want to fight,” said Caballero, who sparred with Roman “Chocolatito” Gonzalez recently. “I know it’s not going to be an easy fight but when you get to this level none of the fights are easy.”
Both camps are very familiar with each other. When Caballero was a youth his father Marco Caballero would take him to the Coachella Gym when the Diaz brothers were training there. Now Joel Diaz trains De La Hoya in nearby Indio. It’s an awkward situation for Joel because of his strong ties to the Caballero family over the years.
“I know his family very well,” said Joel Diaz. “I’ve known Randy since he was a kid.”
De La Hoya, 23, has been training with Diaz since turning professional in 2013 and has shown an innate ability to rise to the occasion. He seems to fight to the level of his opponent. Can he rise to the occasion once again or will Caballero have too much experience?
The two super bantamweights have heard rumors about facing each other for almost a year and now is the moment of truth.
“Whatever happens, happens,” said Caballero. “I went through a bumpy road to lose my title, a surgery and other things. It’s going to be tough. I’m just glad it’s on a big card like this.”
A 10-round lightweight battle for a couple of regional titles features undefeated Ryan Martin (19-0, 11 KOs) against Mexican tough Francisco Rojo (20-2, 13 KOs). Martin, 24, has gradually improved as the competition has improved. The Cleveland lightweight is tall for his weight class and shows a lot of poise. Though not a big puncher, he shows accuracy and determination.
Rojo, 26, has upset a number of undefeated fighters along the way and has beaten several including Eduardo Escobedo and Dante Jardon that surprised. But the Mexico City fighter is moving up a step in class.
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