All Miked Up could’ve been the theme for Saturday night’s Top Rank Live telecast, which aired on Fox Sports from the American Bank Center in Corpus Christi, Texas.
Mikey Garcia and Mike Alvarado were quick yet emphatic in making major statements with early knockout wins in the televised portion of the show, scoring knockout wins in a combined total of less than five minutes of ring action.
The main event saw the official coming out party for Garcia, an ultra talented and undefeated featherweight prospect on the cusp of contender status. The Oxnard native, trained by older brother Roberto “Grandpa” Garcia and father Eduard, was calm and precise in making quick work of respectable divisional gatekeeper Tomas Villa.
So quick that the bout failed to reach the one minute mark, scoring the quickest stoppage of his young career and announcing his arrival in the featherweight division.
It was business as usual for Garcia in the opening moments of the bout, looking to establish his jab while fighting patiently behind a tight guard. There wouldn’t be much of a need for fight plan development in this one – a straight right hand put Villa on the seat of his pants less than 30 seconds into the bout.
Most young fighters would rush to finish the job, which more often than not results in an opponent not only surviving the round, but also rallying back at some point in a fight that suddenly became more difficult than necessary. Not Garcia, who remained as calm as an assassin in surveying the action and planning his next move.
Several jabs and a left hook left Villa visibly shook in center ring. A follow up right hand finished the job, flooring the normally durable Mexican for the second time in a bout just 50 seconds young.
The bout was short enough even for referee Laurence Cole to avoid botching any calls. The third man issued an eight count and flirted the idea with allowing it to continue, but took another look at a still wobbly Villa and rightfully stopped the contest without another punch being thrown in the fight.
The official time was 1:07 of the opening round, several rounds sooner than most anticipated the night to last, including the young man on the delivering end of the performance.
“I wasn’t expecting it to be that quick,” admitted Garcia, who improves to 21-0 (18KO) with the win, his second of 2010, as well as his sixth straight knockout. “(Villa) is a tough opponent who always gives everything he has. I hit him and hurt him; it came quick and victory was on my side tonight.”
Victory never came close to happening for Villa. The hard-luck Mexican falls to 22-7-4 (14KO) with the loss, snapping a two-fight win streak.
The major statement comes as poetic justice for Garcia, who was forced to wait more than two months for his arrival on the series. The 22-year old was slated to appear in the televised co-feature of the inaugural episode of Top Rank Live, only for a visa issue to prevent his opponent from entering the United States, leaving Garcia without a dance partner.
Despite the setback, he’s managed to keep his career moving. The bout was already his second of 2010, with the plan to remain active until he’s in a position to challenge the very best in a featherweight division that continues to heat up with each passing day.
“I plan to keep fighting and keep winning,” insists Garcia, who is closing in on four years as a pro. “If the opportunity comes by the end of this year or early next year to be fighting for a world title, I’ll be more than happy to take that opportunity.”
ALVARADO MAKES STATEMENT IN RING RETURN
Undefeated junior welterweight contender Mike Alvarado ended a 10-month hiatus from the ring with a second round knockout of the usually durable Lenin Arroyo in the Top Rank Live televised co-feature.
Alvarado dominated from the outset, controlling the action but behind a well-disciplined. Arroyo was brave enough to attempt to trade with the Denver product, proving to be his undoing. The Floridian remained in Alvarado’s punching range throughout the brief affair, taking a pounding in the opening round while not landing anything to earn his attention.
The sudden ending came early in the second round. Alvarado landed a flush right hand that legitimately shook Arroyo; it was all downhill from there. A right uppercut put Arroyo on the canvas, where he was given a five-count before it was decided by the referee that there was no longer a reason to allow the fight to continue.
The official time was 0:42 of the second round.
Alvarado advances to 27-0 (19KO) with the win, his first since a break from the ring which included a five-month stint in jail for violating the terms of his probation. The former amateur wrestler standout was given an 18-month sentence, serving five months of hard time with the rest issued as part of a work release program.
It was clear from the opening bell that ring rust would not be a factor, to which Alvarado owes to focusing on nothing but this date the moment he was given the opportunity to return.
“I’ve been training hard; my mind was 100% ready,” insisted Alvarado after his brief yet emphatic destruction of Arroyo, who falls to 20-12-1 (4KO). The loss is Arroyo’s fifth straight, but the first time in his seven-plus year career in which he was stopped.
Alvarado credits the achievement the extra work he put in while waiting for this assignment.
“There was no question at all – I had the best camp I’ve ever had in my entire career. I’ve been so ready, and knew anything I threw it was going to land.”
With that first fight out of the way, the unbeaten boxer-puncher is now ready to pick up where he left off – which was a march towards title contention.
“I’m ready for the best .It’s been a long time coming. I’m ready to make a statement and fight the best in front of me.”
IN OTHER ACTION…
With a lot of time to kill in between the co-feature and the main event, welterweight prospects were afforded a pleasant surprise in the form of live airtime in the evening's first televised swing bout.
It should’ve been the perfect opportunity for 24-year old Jose Juan “JJ” Fuentes to make a major statement, but was instead forced to fend off a persistent Esteban Almarez to eventually surge ahead and pull out a unanimous decision.
Almarez was game, jumping out to a quick start and arguably winning each of the first two rounds. Fuentes never fell far behind in terms of two-way exchanges, and was able to resume control from round three onward.
The end of the third round saw Almarez in need of ringside medical assistance as a cut developed just over his left eyelid. The Harlingen (TX) native and crowd favorite didn’t let the sight of his own blood hinder his performance, going nip-and-tuck with Fuentes in the fourth and most of the fifth.
However, it was that small part of the fifth that ultimately put the fight out of reach. Fuentes scored the bout’s lone knockdown, courtesy of a counter left hook. Almarez beat the count and went toe-to-toe with Fuentes in the sixth and final round, but was too little too late.
Official scores were 59-54 (twice) and 58-55, all in favor of Fuentes, who improves to 8-1 (4KO). Almarez dips to 9-3 (4KO), losing his second straight.
With Mikey Garcia ending the main event 11 rounds earlier than for which the slot was slated, Top Rank managed to squeeze in two walkout bouts, only one of which proved to be entertaining .
Jerry Belmontes (12-0, 3KO) barely escaped his hometown with his undefeated record still intact, outlasting previously unbeaten newcomer Gill Garcia (2-1, 0KO) just long enough to eke out a majority decision. Scores were 39-37 (twice) for Belmontes and 38-38.
Garcia suffered a cut outside of his left eye due to an accidental headbutt, which threatened to end the bout early. Action resumed, but only for Belmontes to take over the fight from a scoring perspective. Garcia’s effort was appreciated by the crowd, to the point of Belmontes being booed in his own hometown upon the reading of the official verdict.
The final fight of the evening was a walkout bout in every sense of the word, as local undefeated light heavyweight Alfonso Lopez (19-0, 15KO) won a lackluster six round unanimous decision over Gabriel Holguin (25-8, 9KO). Scores were 59-55 (twice) and 60-54.
Jake Donovan is the Managing Editor of Boxingscene.com and an award-winning member of the Boxing Writers Association of America. Contact Jake at [email protected]