by Kieran Mulvaney
Did you overindulge over the holidays? Have you made a resolution to cut back and stop spoiling yourself? Here’s a suggestion: Why not enjoy the feast a while longer?
HBO Boxing kicks off its 2013 season with not one, not two, but three world title fights on a Boxing After Dark card from New York’s famed Madison Square Garden on January 19. And each one of them promises to be a treat:
Rocky Martinez vs Juan Carlos Burgos
If you want to see the definition of tough, the perfect illustration of the kind of pain and suffering a professional boxer must at times endure in pursuit of victory, watch Martinez’ brutal battle with Miguel Beltran in September, which aired on the Sergio Martinez-Julio Cesar Chavez Jr pay-per-view broadcast from Las Vegas. The two men fought twelve bruising and bloodying rounds that could ultimately have gone either way, but resulted in a split decision win for Martinez.
His challenger, Burgos, has fought for a world title once before, in which he suffered his only career defeat; in the more than two years since then, he’s been on a roll, scoring impressive wins against previously undefeated opponents such as Luis Cruz and Cesar Vazquez, the latter by knockout. At the very least, Martinez is going to need to be prepared for yet another trial by fire.
Gennady Golovkin vs Gabriel Rosado
What you see is what you get with Golovkin: A technically solid but unrefined fighter with granite in his chin and dynamite in his fists. Fresh off his stunning stoppage of Grzegorz Proksa in his HBO debut last year, he takes on Philadelphia’s Rosado, who is convinced his more versatile boxing skills – and his recent run of upset victories – will carry the day against the undefeated Kazakh. It is to Rosado’s credit that the junior middleweight eschewed the offer of a catchweight and elected to grapple with Golovkin at the full 160-pound middleweight limit; it remains to be seen if that’s a boldness he will ultimately regret.
Orlando Salido vs Miguel Angel ‘Mikey’ Garcia
Looking only at each man’s record suggests a mismatch: the youthful Garcia has 30 wins from 30 starts, 26 of them inside the distance; Salido in contrast has finished second in 11 of his 52 professional outings. But Salido’s figures are misleading: the great majority of his losses were the result of being matched too tough in his early career. Since 2004, he has been bested just three times, all on points, against the likes of Juan Manuel Marquez. He has followed his last loss, to Yuriorkis Gamboa in 2010 with a string of stoppage victories, including twice over highly-touted Juan Manuel Lopez.
Garcia, who is widely regarded as a genuinely blue-chip prospect, likes to fight at a measured pace and break down his foes gradually; Salido, who fights like a steam train racing downhill with failed brakes, will test the youngster’s resolve in what could, with January barely half-over, prove to be a Fight of the Year candidate.