Top-Tier SoCal Fighters Top the Bills in TV Fights This Weekend

Two prizefighters from Riverside County, Calif. compete for America’s television boxing audience as Oscar Valdez and Mikey Garcia perform on rival networks this weekend.

Valdez defends the WBO featherweight title in Southern California while Garcia defends the WBC lightweight title in Texas on Saturday on rival networks.

But first things kick off on Friday.

A busy fight weekend begins with Golden Boy Promotions staging a boxing card topped by a 10-round match between featherweight contenders Ronny Rios (pictured on the right) and Azat Hovhannisyan at the OC Hangar on Friday night in Costa Mesa, Calif. That’s in Orange County. ESPN2 will televise.

Rios (29-2, 13 KOs) will be fighting near his hometown of Santa Ana when he enters the OC Hangar. He faces Hovhannisyan (13-2, 10 KOs) who is based in L.A. Both are extremely aggressive and when they appeared on the live radio show Tattoo and the Crew on Dash Radio, there was burning animosity between them.

“Azat (Hovhannisyan) has a lot of heart. He comes forward a lot. We’ve seen a lot of strengths and weaknesses on tape. I can’t reveal too much, but we have a lot of different game plans,” said Rios who fought for the world title last summer but lost by decision. “There’s no added pressure being the main event. I feel the determination to go in there and execute.”

Hovhannisyan knows what to expect from Rios and recently changed trainers and now works with venerable Freddie Roach.

“Ronny Rios is a great fighter, but I know what I need to do in the ring to win,” said Hovhannisyan. “I’m going to continue training hard and we’ll see what the future holds.”

In the semi-main, Rios’ brother Alexis Rocha fights Miguel Dumas in a welterweight match.

“I’ve seen footage of Miguel Dumas. He’s a tough, durable guy. I know he’ll stay right in front of me. That could be dangerous-for him,” said Rocha. “After this I’d like to grab two more regional belts and then a world title the following year.”

Another added attraction features female middleweight contender Maricela “La Diva” Cornejo in a six round bout against Lisa Garland.

Cornejo signed with Golden Boy Promotions and looks to maintain her place in line for a future world title bout.

Rival TV cards

Oscar Valdez lives in Lake Elsinore, California. That’s roughly 17 miles from where Mikey Garcia lives in Moreno Valley. Both cities are located in Riverside County.

The undefeated Valdez (23-0, 19 KOs) headlines the Top Rank fight card at the StubHub Center in Carson on Saturday March 10. The former Mexican Olympian fights Scott Quigg (34-1-2, 25 KOs) on Saturday. ESPN will televise.

This is Valdez’s fourth world title defense since winning it in July 2016.

“I’m ready. I’m more anxious than anything. I’ve been ready for a long time,” said Valdez who trained primarily in Mexico for this fight. “I want to carry the Mexican flag and be considered a warrior inside the ring that gives the fans great fights.”

England’s Quigg is no slouch. He formerly held the WBA super bantamweight world title and defended it four times before losing to Carl Frampton and suffering a broken jaw in the battle two years ago. He is unbeaten since that loss.

“I respect all fighters. I respect Oscar as a fighter. I respect his trainer {Manny Robles}. This is a voluntary defense. They didn’t have to pick me, so it shows that they want to fight the best. But, they definitely made a mistake picking me.”

Texas and Mikey Garcia

In San Antonio, Texas the former featherweight, super featherweight and current lightweight world champion Mikey Garcia battles against fellow Southern Californian Sergey Lipinets in a 12 round super lightweight fight on Saturday March 10th. Showtime will televise the match.

Garcia has a very busy weekend. He also is promoting his own card on Friday in San Antonio with a large boxing card at the Mi Mercado Event Center. Then on Saturday he enters the boxing ring at the Freeman Coliseum in San Antonio.

The Moreno Valley prizefighter does not underestimate Lipinets.

“It took me 30 fights to get a title and it only took him 13. So, it definitely tells you he’s champion material and experienced enough to be there,” said Garcia. “I think the deciding factor and what’s going to allow me to prevail is my boxing abilities, my speed, my footwork, my timing. The skills that I possess, I think are greater and that’s just going to help me win my fight.”

Lipinets walks into the ring as the unknown underdog though he holds the IBF super featherweight title.

“I’m not looking past Mikey. There’s nothing that I’m thinking about but Mikey’s fight and then, when the fight actually occurs and when I come out to where I’m going to come out of that ring, then you start talking about the future opponents,” said Lipinets when asked about fights after Garcia.

This is Garcia’s second venture into the world of 140-pound super lightweights. Last summer he soundly defeated Adrien Broner in New York. Now he’s in Texas for another foray into the super lightweight world.

After this fight, if successful, he yearns to unify all of the lightweight world titles before embarking on the world of the welterweights. They are some lofty goals.

“I do want to do a unification match at a lightweight. Then eventually make my way up to 147. Maybe even by the end of this year, says Garcia. “That’s a rich division with huge names, huge fights, that I want to be part of.”

Big prizes are what Garcia is seeking.

Check out more boxing news on video at The Boxing Channel

To comment on this article at The Fight Forum, CLICK HERE.