By Jake Donovan
Mikey Garcia makes his third appearance at Madison Square Garden Theatre in New York City, this time as a defending titlist as he faces Juan Carlos Burgos in their 130 lb. title fight.
The bout serves as the main event of an HBO-televised doubleheader (Saturday 9:45PM ET). In the televised co-feature, Bryant Jennings faces Artur Szpilka in a matchup of unbeaten heavyweights.
Garcia (33-0, 28KO) enjoyed a sensational 2013 campaign that saw the unbeaten Oxnard, Calif. product land on many Fighter of the Year lists. Three wins came on the year, including alphabet titles in two weight classes.
It was just over a year ago when Garcia entered the title fray, scoring a one-sided technical decision over Orlando Salido to claim a featherweight belt in this very venue last January. The feat served as his introduction towards the sport's elite level, but failed to register a single title defense. His HBO-televised headliner versus Juan Manuel Lopez became a non-title affair after Garcia was forced to concede his title at the scales due to coming in over the limit during the pre-fight weigh-in. The instance slightly overshadowed an otherwise spectacular 4th round knockout of the former two-division titlist.
The year ended with Garcia overcoming a rare knockdown to stop Roman 'Rocky' Martinez in eight rounds to win the 130 lb. title at stake tonight.
Burgos (30-1-2, 20KO) is convinced that the same title on the line tonight belongs around his waist. The rangy Mexican boxer was held to a highly disputed 12-round draw versus Martinez in their showdown last January, on the undercard of Garcia's aforementioned win over Salido.
Tonight, the challenger returns to the scene of the crime, entering his third attempt at a major title. His other swing at alphabet hardware resulted in the lone loss of his career, a 12-round unanimous decision defeat at the hands of Hozumi Hasegawa in November '10 on the road in Japan.
With the third time be a charm for a hard-luck challenger, or will a defending champion enjoy his rapid ascension towards the sport's elite level.
Read on to see how the staff at Boxingscene.com believes the super featherweight title fight action will go down tonight.
BOXINGSCENE.COM STAFF PREDICTIONS – MIKEY GARCIA vs. JUAN CARLOS BURGOS
“Mikey goes 3-0 at the Garden.”
- Damien Acevedo (Garcia by decision)
“Garcia simply us the more skilled fighter end better in every category. I do think Burgos will make it to the final bell however. Look got Garcia to move up in weight immediately after the fight as he moved towards a Pacquiao showdown."
- Ryan Burton (Garcia UD)
“Burgos is a bonafide Top 10 contender, so this pick is no knock on him - I just think Garcia is that good, and that dominant over the rest of the field. A well-intended effort by the challenger quickly develops into a rout, with Garcia breaking him down just before the championship rounds."
- Jake Donovan (Garcia TKO10)
“Burgos is a tough customer so I am kind of surprised at the easy dismissal of him as a worthy foe when he arguably should be a champion as most felt he did enough to dethrone then champion Rocky Martinez. Burgos will be in front of Garcia all night, and that will in the end be his undoing. Garcia is about as accurate a fighter as you'll get and eventually his sharpshooting will wear down Burgos forcing the ref to stop the action."
- Ernest Gabion (Garcia TKO9)
"Burgos got the short end of the stick against Roman Martinez in his last high-profile fight. Now Burgos gets the man who shook off an early flash knockdown from Martinez en route to stopping the Puerto Rican. Burgos is an underrated fighter who is good enough to win a belt at 130 pounds; unfortunately, he's up against a complete fighter in Garcia, who I feel will eventually counterpunch Burgos into submission late in the bout."
- Ryan Maquiñana (Garcia TKO10)
“Burgos should give a spirited test and could test a Garcia who isn't as proven as he is hyped right now. Ultimately, the development of Garcia continues with a decision."
- Cliff Rold (Garcia by decision)
“The hard hitting Garcia faces a solid test in Burgos who should have been crowned a champion two fights ago if not for poor judging. This could be an exciting affair but its hard to envision anyone going 12 rounds with Garcia (nobody has yet) and I see a game Burgo having his corner have to step in and stop the fight."
- Luis Sandoval (Garcia TKO10)
“Burgos had a roller-coaster in 2013 with the same rare results, coming from a questionable draw against Martinez (top point) to an evident draw against Amidu (lowest point). The clue is that Burgos fights to a level of his opposition but only to a degree. He was outboxed against a smaller man in Hozumi Hasegawa, and it looks like Martinez's level is his ceiling. Garcia, who is better than that version of Hasegawa, will methodically outfight and outbox Burgos to a wide win, but the Mexican's sturdy chin will keep him up. Scores like 118-110/118-109 will be welcome."
- Alexey Sukachev (Garcia UD)
Jake Donovan is the Managing Editor of Boxingscene.com, as well as a member of Transnational Boxing Ratings Board and the Boxing Writers Association of America. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox