By Jake Donovan
If ever the phrase “the must go on” fits a boxing card, it would have to apply to Friday night’s telecast of Shobox.
The main event has changed face three times and for a few hours on Thursday was in jeopardy. Angelo Santana was over the limit by 1¾ lb. for his scheduled 10-round lightweight bout with Juan Garcia in a battle of unbeaten prospects, live from the Jai Alai Fronton in Miami, Florida.
Santana (13-0, 10KO) did his best to shrink down as close as possible to the lightweight limit after the maximum two hours allowed, but wound up at 135.2. lb. Garcia (13-0, 8KO), a career super lightweight who came in at a surprisingly low 133¾ lb, forgave the extra poundage to allow the latest main event to remain intact.
The bout was upgraded late Wednesday afternoon after Omar Henry was forced to withdraw from the card. The unbeaten middleweight prospect was first scheduled to face Juan de la Rosa, who pulled out of the fight and was replaced by Juan Ubaldo Cabrera.
However, Henry (12-0-1, 9KO) was removed from the show after a gruesome battle with gallstones landed him in the emergency room.
With Santana and Garcia receiving the upgraded from co-feature to main event, Joey ‘Twinkle Fingers’ Hernandez makes his way to the Showtime telecast. The outspoken Floridian serves in the evening’s chief support against James Winchester, though their fight nearly began a day early.
The two got into it at Thursday’s weigh-in, having to be physically separated. At the very least, both fighters made weight – local favorite Hernandez (22-1-1, 13KO) came in at 156 lb, while North Carolina’s Winchester (15-5, 5KO) came in at 155¾ lb for their 10-round super welterweight bout.
While the co-feature players wait to settle their differences in the ring, both sides of the evening’s headlining act keep it classy. Garcia, who hails from the tulip capital of America in Holland, Michigan - is anxious to score his second upset over the year, having snatched the “0” from Yordenis Ugas earlier this year in a bout that also aired on Shobox.
Santana was eager to face Garcia the moment the fight was suggested, if only to exact revenge on behalf of his countryman.
“The first time I saw Garcia was against Yordenis Ugas,” acknowledged Santana, whose televised debut came in his last fight this past June, appearing on the undercard of a Wealth TV telecast. “I didn’t think he won. I thought Yordenis won the fight. But Garcia comes forward and throws a lot of punches. I just have to be ready for it.”
Friday’s bout marks the eighth time in his young career that Santana gets to fight in his adopted home state. The Cuban defector is now based out of Miami, having last fought in his hometown nearly two years ago. His past two fights have taken place in nearby Hollywood, though this bout has a far different feel to it, and not just because of the TV coverage.
“I’m happy to be here, fighting an undefeated fighter with a great record right here in Miami,” states Santana. “I feel like I’m fighting in my own backyard. From the moment I come into the ring, I’m giving the fans in attendance and watching at home an entertaining night to remember.”
Fortunately for Santana, his opponent’s forgiving heart gives him a chance to realize that dream scenario. A win on Friday will allow him to pursue a different goal.
“I believe I’m ready for Top 10 competition right now,” insists Santana, completing his fifth full year as a pro. “It’s been discussed for my next fight, but I have to win on (Friday) in order to move on to that point.”
Jake Donovan is the Managing Editor of Boxingscene.com. Follow Jake on Twitter: @JakeNDaBox