By Francisco Salazar
Miguel Angel Garcia is good. Real Good.
So good that people in boxing do not refer to him as a prospect anymore. They refer to him as a future force to be reckoned with at the super featherweight limit.
Could he eventually go up to lightweight and fight the top fighters there?
Possible and eventually. For now, let us see what he could do against formidable opposition in the 130-pound weight class.
That will start tonight when he faces Roman “Rocky” Martinez in a scheduled 12 round bout at the American Bank Center in Corpus Christi, TX. Garcia will be gunning for a second world title when he faces Martinez that will be televised live on HBO. The telecast will begin at 9:30PM ET/ 6:30 PM.
Garcia won his last fight on June 15th, a fourth round stoppage victory over former two-division world title-holder Juan Manuel Lopez.
The backdrop of the fight was not something Garcia (or anyone in his team) wants to go through again.
Garcia lost his featherweight world title belt on the scale the day before the fight. He weighed above the contracted weight of 126 pounds and was able to lose the weight in the allotted time.
As if losing the title was bad enough, Garcia fell ill after the weigh-in. HBO was filming Garcia as part of its “2 Days” series, when they filmed Garcia vomiting into a wastebasket. There was even talks to postpone the fight, but the fight went through.
The situation after the weigh-in made Garcia and his team realize that it was best to find a dietician and/ or strength and conditioning coach to assist with training camp.
That person was Alex Ariza, famous for being the strength and conditioning coach for Manny Pacquiao. Ariza stopped working with Pacquiao when he and trainer Freddie Roach had a falling out between the two.
Now, Ariza is working with Garcia and other fighters at the Robert Garcia Boxing Academy in Oxnard, CA. It is where Garcia, Brandon Rios, Nonito Donaire, and Marcos Maidana train out of.
Garcia is happy with the results. Not only did he easily make weight on Friday, but his body looks more defined and muscular than before.
“We always work hard in the gym,” Garcia told Boxingscene.com after a recent workout in Oxnard, CA. “The biggest difference in this camp has been my dieting and the structure of it. Alex Ariza has been the biggest difference so far. The results are better and I’m in great shape. I’m ready to fight 12 rounds.”
Garcia (32-0, 27 KOs) has passed most tests against modest to legitimate foes with flying colors. His one-sided, dismantling of Orlando Salido in January impressed boxing writers and has been Garcia’s most impressive victory to date.
He faces a formidable foe in Roman Martinez tonight. Martinez (27-1-2, 16 KOs) is unbeaten in his last four fights since his loss to Ricky Burns in September of 2010.
A majority of media and fight fans predict Garcia not only would beat Martinez, but could possibly stop him. While some young fighters might feed off of that, Garcia remains focused on the task of facing the best Martinez in the ring.
“He’s doesn’t have the fastest hands or well-rounded, but he’s tough and fights to the end. He’s going to give 1,000 percent in the ring.”
Now that Garcia is competing at 130 pounds, some think Garcia is the top fighter in the division, despite not having fought once at that weight.
Maybe he is and maybe he is not. Garcia could make a statement tonight against a talented fighter with a belt. Or it would have to take Garcia to clean out the division.
Whenever that would be or if it occurs, Garcia is going to take one fight at a time. He will assess where he belongs in the division after the Martinez fight.
“I don’t get caught up with that,” said Garcia, who is a 2006 graduate of Pacifica High School in Oxnard. I will assess myself after the fight (on Saturday) to determine where I belong. I will say that I’m one of the best in the (130-pound) division, but I’ll wait to after the fight to see where I belong.”
Garcia has a bright future in the boxing game. He has been around boxing since his father Eduardo trained Fernando Vargas and when his older brother Robert was a world champion.
His boxing I.Q. is off the charts because of it and the hours he puts in the gym.
Garcia is as talented as they come and the interesting thing is that he probably has not hit his ceiling yet.
Garcia is very good now. Could you actually imagine when Garcia will become a great fighter?
As much as boxing fans are exciting to see that transformation, his future opponents may thing otherwise.
Francisco A. Salazar has written for Boxingscene.com since September of 2002 and has covered boxing in Southern California and abroad since 2000. He also covers boxing for the Ventura County (CA) Star newspaper, Knockout Nation, and Ring Magazine. He could be reached by email at [email protected] or on twitter at FSalazarBoxing