Garcia and Donaire Emphatically Answer Their Critics

by Tim Smith

Rocky Martinez, Mikey Garcia - Photo Credit: Ed Mulholland

Roman "Rocky" Martinez had the dubious distinction of being the only current world champion from Puerto Rico when he stepped into the ring against Mikey Garcia at the American Bank Center in Corpus Christi, Texas on Saturday night. It is no longer a distinction, nor is it dubious. Garcia saw to that with paralyzing force, scoring a knockout of Martinez at 56 seconds of the eighth round to win the the vacant 130-pound title.

After getting dropped by a counter right hand from Martinez in the second round, Garcia slowly broke down Martinez and then brought matters to a sudden conclusion with a vicious left hook to the liver in the eighth round. Martinez crumpled to all fours. Martinez (27-2-2, 16 KOs) was frozen and could only wince as referee Laurence Cole counted him out in Spanish.

"I thought it was going to be a very good shot when I landed it," said Garcia, who improved his record to 33-0 with 28 KOs.  “I knew it was a good punch. I didn’t know if he was going to try to get up. I thought he would. But I could see his expression that it would be very difficult for him to get up.’’

Read the Full Rocky Martinez vs. Mikey Garcia Fight Recap on HBO.com.

Official Weigh-in Results from Corpus Christi

Saturday’s HBO Boxing After Dark telecast tripleheader airs at 9:30 p.m. (ET/PT).

The HBO telecast kicks off live from the American Bank Center in Corpus Christi when junior middleweights Vanes Martirosyan and Demetrius Andrade meet for a 12-round title bout.

In a rematch of their July 2007 fight, Nonito Donaire and Vic Darchinyan square off for 10 rounds in the featherweight division.

The evening’s main event features junior lightweight title-holder, Rocky Martinez, as he defends his crown against challenger Mikey Garcia in a contest scheduled for 12 rounds.

 

Official Weights from Corpus Christi:

Rocky Martinez: 129.75 lbs.

Mikey Garcia: 128.75 lbs.

 

Nonito Donaire: 125.25 lbs.

Vic Darchinyan: 125.75 lbs.

 

Vanes Martirosyan: 153.75 lbs.

Demetrius Andrade: 153.75 lbs.


View the full weigh-in slideshow on HBO.com.

Shoulder Healed, Focus Restored, Donaire Rediscovers a Love for Boxing

by Kieran Mulvaney


When the smoke had cleared, the final bell had rung, and the scores had been read out at the conclusion of his April fight with Guillermo Rigondeaux, Nonito Donaire knew he had done something that he hadn't done in a long time – not since 2001, in fact, and the second fight of his professional career.

He had lost.

On the scorecards, at least, it had not been an entirely one-sided drubbing, but the margins of defeat were narrowed by the fact that Donaire scored a knockdown in the tenth round, by which time the pattern of the fight had long been set and the result appeared a foregone conclusion. Donaire simply was unable to catch up to the lightning-fast Rigondeaux, who moved in and out at will, leaving the soon-to-be-ex-champion, so often a dynamic presence in the ring, looking somewhat lost.

"He beat me. He beat me," Donaire admits. He insists, however, that all was not right with him in the build-up to the contest. There was a shoulder injury for one thing -- a pair of tears in his right rotator cuff that, he says, had caused him such discomfort that he could no longer sleep on his favored right side. More than that, however, was what he says was a problem with focus.

The proximate cause of that, he asserts, was his wife Rachel's pregnancy.

"Honestly, if you look back at all my interviews, I would always say, 'I'm going to beat the guy, I'm going to beat the guy,'" he says. "But before Rigondeaux, I was answering, 'It doesn't matter I win or not. I want to focus on my kid.' And that was the mistake that I made."

But the malaise ran deeper than that. Undefeated in 12 years, and coming off four victories in 2012 that had netted him the Boxing Writers Association of America Fighter of the Year award, he began to question whether he still had the drive to continue succeeding:

"When you win over and over and over, you begin to question, 'Is there any more desire?' And then your focus is, 'You know what? I think I'm done after this. My kid is here, and I think I'm going to take care of that.' After the [Jorge] Arce fight [in December 2012], I kept asking Robert [Garcia, his trainer], 'Hey Robert, what age were you when you retired?' And he'd tell me it was like 28, 29. I'd think, 'Oh that's young.' And I kept asking him that, and it's just in the back of your head. After a while you fight for the money. All your life, you fought for the title, you fought the best. Then you start to question how much you're making. 'How much is it? OK, I'll fight.' And that's not me."

The loss to Rigondeaux might have been expected to confirm such feelings of separation from the sport; instead it wound up causing him to question and ultimately reject them.

"When I lost the fight, that's when it dawned on me that I love boxing," he says. "It answered my question about whether or not I was done, and I realized I'm not. I'm glad the fight went the way it did, because it answered my question. I want to be doing this as long as I can."

The first step on that continuing road – and the first test of his surgically repaired shoulder -- comes on Saturday with a rematch against Vic Darchinyan, whom he knocked out in 2007 to begin his ascent toward stardom. But as he proclaims his rediscovered love for boxing, talk turns to the prospect of another rematch and the chance to erase the stain from earlier this year.

"I wouldn't take anything back from that night; it gave me the answer that I needed," he insists of the fight with Rigondeaux. "But we'll see the next time, at my best and at his best, which one is better."

Read the Quick Hits Interview with Nonito Donaire on HBO.com.

Garcia Could Have Been a Cop, But Now He's a Champion

by Kieran Mulvaney

He's just 25 years old, but Mikey Garcia will be gunning for his second world title on Saturday, when the native of Oxnard, California, moves up from featherweight to take on junior lightweight titlist Rocky Martinez in Corpus Christi, Texas.

There is no shortage of observers who think that Garcia is a pound-for-pound star in the making, and given his pedigree, perhaps that isn't surprising. His father and trainer, Eduardo, has been the chief second for such noted fighters as former junior middleweight champ Fernando Vargas; and his older brother Roberto, himself a former junior lightweight titlist, is the reigning Boxing Writers Association of America Trainer of the Year for his work with, among others, Brandon Rios and Nonito Donaire.

But, says Garcia, despite almost literally having boxing in his blood, he wasn't at all sure during his younger years that it was the career for him.

"I would go to the gym just to hang out and watch my brothers train, or even spend time at training camps with Fernando or Robert in the summertime, but never trained to compete or anything like that," he told HBO.com recently. In fact, his first amateur bout happened almost by accident, when he was 14 years old and cheering on a nephew, who was boxing in a tournament.

"One of the kids from his club didn't have an opponent, so they signed me up," he recalls. "They made it an exhibition, because I didn't have a license, and we borrowed some shorts and a cup, borrowed a mouth piece even. We borrowed everything. So I went in the ring, we made it a three-round exhibition, and I kinda liked it. I liked the competition."

Even then, and even after he turned professional in 2006, he kept his options open. At one point, pugilism seemed a less likely profession than law enforcement, as evidenced by his graduating from the Ventura County Police and Sheriff's Reserve Academy in 2010. But, having ultimately committed to the sweet science, he has flourished -- aided, he says, by having been around boxing for so long.

"Being that I grew up around boxing -- and not just any boxing, but a really good boxing family with really good credentials -- it helps me understand the sport, understand the business, understand the politics, understand the media," he explains. "It's not something new to me, because I've already seen it with fighters like Fernando and Robert, and Robert's fighters. I've been around the big stages before and around the cameras and everything, so it's not that new to me. And I've learned about boxing since around age eight. I didn't plan to be a boxer but I've always seen it, always been around it. And all that other stuff, like the media attention, doesn't conflict with anything; it doesn't mess up the way I fight. Everything else is normal with me; I just go in the ring and do my job."

It's a job at which he is proving particularly well suited, with 32 wins from 32 outings, one world title in his collection and the prospect of adding another one on Saturday. And while donning a police uniform still remains a possibility in the future, for now he is firmly ensconced in the family business.

"I still think I could go back and do something in law enforcement, even if I'm not out on the street, doing something in the department," he says. "But right now, my main focus is boxing. I'm not sure what exactly I'm going to do five, 10 years from now, but right now I'm just focused on boxing."

Read the Quick Hits Interview with Mikey Garcia at HBO.com.

CompuBox Analysis: Martinez vs. Garcia

by CompuBox

Given Mikey Garcia's willowy frame it was almost inevitable that he would try for crowns in heavier weight classes once he outgrew the 126-pound division. We just didn't think that the effort would come quite this soon.

When Garcia surrendered his WBO featherweight title on the scales in June for weighing two pounds over, the timetable was suddenly moved up. On Saturday, the 25-year-old will seek his second crown against rugged Puerto Rican Roman Martinez, a proven crowd-pleaser who is making the third defense of his second reign and his fifth overall.

Will Garcia's pound-for-pound level skills win out or will Martinez's determination and experience at the weigh prove decisive? Statistical factors that may shape the outcome include:


Read the Complete  Martinez vs. Garcia CompuBox Analysis on HBO.com.

CompuBox Analysis: Donaire vs. Darchinyan II

by CompuBox

A few years ago, a rematch between Nonito Donaire and Vic Darchinyan was among the very best fights boxing could make. But disputes between promoters and Darchinyan set-backs to Joseph Agbeko and Abner Mares stood in the way. On Saturday, the long-awaited second act will finally take place but now the overriding question is, to paraphrase Larry Merchant, is it better late than never or is it better never than late?

Statistical factors that may determine the outcome include:


Read the Complete  Donaire vs. Darchinyan II CompuBox Analysis on HBO.com.

Garcia, Donaire Look to Make Waves in New Divisions

by Nat Gottlieb

Mikey Garcia is consistently one of the best-prepared fighters in boxing. But for the first time in the slick, 25-year-old boxer's career he will find himself in territory for which no amount of preparation can guarantee a result.

Garcia is moving up. Not in stature. But in weight class. A featherweight since he was 15, the Oxnard boxer will be testing the waters in the junior lightweight division. His handlers certainly didn't pick an easy introduction to 130 pounds. Instead of a trial tune-up, he will jump right into the fire against an accomplished, reigning champion in Rocky Martinez. This fight will be a good indicator if the rising young Californian is going to be able to be able to carry his elite skills and dominating ways north of the featherweight division

Read the Complete Rocky Martinez vs. Mikey Garcia Fight Overview on HBO.com.