SAN DIEGO, June 15, 2013 – As someone who admires the discipline and work ethic it takes to be a world champion in boxing, nothing is more disappointing than when a fighter fails to make weight. It’s even worse when there is a title on the line. When it’s your first title defense, that’s the trifecta of disappointment.
When WBO featherweight champion Mikey Garcia of Oxnard, California failed to make the 126-pound featherweight limit for his bout Saturday with Juan Manuel Lopez of Puerto Rico by two pounds, the wind went right out of the sails for this fight at the American Airlines Center in Dallas, Texas, to be televised on HBO’s “Boxing After Dark.”
Garcia (31-0, 26 KOs) said his body simply shut down and he was too dehydrated to try to make the weight. As often happens in these situations, Top Rank promoter Bob Arum negotiated with the challenger Lopez new terms to continue the fight anyway. Garcia paid out a six-figure settlement (reportedly $100,000) to Lopez to allow the fight to continue.
Lopez (33-2, 30 KOs) can win the title if he wins. If Garcia wins, the title remains vacant. He cannot win back the title. Lopez weighed in at 125 and one quarter pounds.
Fighters in the smaller weight classes generally move up as they age. Garcia is 25, and his days of fighting at featherweight are apparently over. But it’s a bad practice for a fighter to hang onto a lower weight class longer than he should. It sets up the sort of situation we have with this bout.
It isn’t fair to the challenger, who almost always ends up capitulating and taking a payout to fight anyway because he needs the paycheck and the visibility of the fight. The champion risks little other than a belt; many of them have become so meaningless it’s better to get the win than keep the belt.
Lopez hopes to get his career back on track after suffering two losses to Orlando Salido. Garcia’s last victory came in January against the same fighter, Salido, though under less than ideal circumstances. Garcia put Salido on the canvas three times in the first three rounds. Garcia was calm, focused and determined, landing crisp hooks and upper cuts and they landed with power and impact.
Still, Salido continued to hang in despite the punishment. Near the end of round eight, Salido leaned in and slammed Garcia with a wicked head butt, hurting Garcia. As Garcia went to his corner, his nose appeared to be broken. Garcia came out for round nine, but referee Benjy Estevez asked the ringside physician to look at the nose. The doctor wanted the fight to stop, but Estevez had some discussion with the Garcia corner. After trainer Robert Garcia confirmed it had been ruled an accidental head butt and the outcome would go to the scorecards, he agreed the fight should be stopped.
Garcia was winning on points by a big margin (79-70 on one scorecard and 79-69 on the others), so this wasn’t a gamble. Garcia got the unanimous decision. He admitted being disappointed the way it ended, but said he was having trouble breathing. Some criticism was expressed about Garcia’s team being too willing to stop the fight, instead of letting Garcia continue to try and finish off Salido. Ridiculous. It was a good stoppage, if disappointing.
Lopez is a southpaw, an aggressive fighter who is no pushover for Garcia. He’ll put up a challenge but Garcia should be able to choose his opportunity and take Lopez out.
In the opening bout, you don’t see all that many great boxers from Nebraska, but Terence Crawford wants to change that. He’s a showy undefeated lightweight with a 20-0 record and 15 knockouts. He faces Alejandro Sanabria (34-1-1, 25 KOs) of Mexico. Crawford impressed a lot of people when he agreed to a junior welterweight fight on short notice against Breidis Prescott and won a unanimous decision with ease on the undercard of Rios-Alvarado II in March.
HBO Boxing After Dark: Garcia vs. Lopez and Crawford vs. Sanabria airs live at 10:45 p.m. ET on HBO.
Gayle Lynn Falkenthal, APR, is President/Owner of the Falcon Valley Group in San Diego, California. She is also a serious boxing fan covering the Sweet Science for Communities. Read more Ringside Seat in the Communities at The Washington Times. Follow Gayle on Facebook and on Twitter @PRProSanDiego. Gayle can be reached via Google +
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