Former four-weight champion Mikey Garcia (39-1, 30 KOs) returns this Saturday to take on former world titlist Jesse Vargas (29-2-2, 29 KOs) on an interesting Matchroom Boxing card streamed live on DAZN from the Ford Center at The Star in Frisco, Texas.
The contest marks the first fight following Garcia’s major signing with the popular app in December. The well-known Californian is on a fight-by-fight deal with DAZN with an option for further fights down the road.
Tale of the Tape
It’s been nearly a year since Garcia’s humbling unanimous points loss to the now reigning IBF and WBC world welterweight champion Errol Spence Jr but he appears primed to have another go at 147lbs.
Garcia’s obsession with the welterweight division is a bit perplexing considering that lucrative and more winnable fights are available at his more natural division among the super-lightweights. Garcia against either Jose Ramirez or Josh Taylor
would generate large PPV sales and are both fights where he would be favored.
Non-title fights against the likes of Regis Prograis and Maurice Hooker would be compelling too even if they don’t quite grab the headlines and attention of hardcore boxing fans.
At just 32, Garcia is still very much in his prime and is likely attempting to notch another signature win and claim that elusive fifth weight-division belt to enhance his career legacy. He’s already won world titles at featherweight, junior
lightweight, lightweight and junior welterweight.
In Jessie Vargas, Mikey faces another large welterweight and tougher assignment than meets the eye.
Vargas has beaten quality names in Sadam Ali, Antonio De Marco, Wale Omotoso, Josesito Lopez and Vivian Harris. However, he has never defeated an elite opponent evidenced by his action-packed losses to Manny Pacquiao and Timothy Bradley.
Vargas enters this fight on the heels of an April win over Humberto Soto. In that win, Vargas showed his customary toughness and overcame a nasty cut due to a clash of heads to knock his opponent out in the 6th round.
Vargas is not on the same level of Errol Spence but he is a worthy opponent with championship caliber experience having held the WBA and IBO super lightweight titles in 2014, and the WBO welterweight title in 2016.
Vargas will enjoy similar physical advantages over Garcia that Spence did at 5’11” against Garcia’s 5’6.” However, Garcia has the decided advantage in the skills department and will look to use that to negate Vargas’ physical attributes.
Garcia has won five of his last six fights, but did not look good in his one and only loss to Spence. To his credit, Garcia took everything Spence threw at him and never appeared in danger of being stopped although he was thoroughly outclassed.
Even with that bad loss, Mikey is still one of the better welterweights in the division and an elite pound-for-pound talent with a high ring IQ, superb conditioning and good punching power.
Vargas is not afraid to let his hands go and will need to bring the fight to his smaller but more well-rounded opponent. Jessie is a very live dog in this fight and more than capable of toppling Mikey if he is not 100 percent prepared. Garcia’s long lay-off and continued adjustment to a new weight class could certainly benefit Vargas here.
Verdict: Their styles will make for a great battle but I like Garcia by decision.
Martinez vs. Harris: This is an interesting fight card that should deliver on excitement with equally compelling undercard matchups beginning with WBC flyweight champion Julio
Cesar Martinez defending against Jay Harris.
Martinez (15-1, 12 KOs) was last seen crushing former WBC titlist Charlie Edwards last August inside of three rounds. It was a complete mismatch as Edwards offered very little resistance and did not have the power to keep Martinez off of him.
Jay Harris (17-0, 9 KOs) has a very similar European fighting style that Martinez has already seen in Edwards. Also, Harris doesn’t have huge punching power with only a 50% KO rate to Martinez’s nearly 80% KO rate.
However, Harris is very technically efficient and could present a stylistic matchup problem for Martinez, who described their matchup as “complicated.” Both men like to come forward so their approaches mixed with Jay’s defensive savvy should make for an action-packed clash.
Though Harris has never been beaten, Martinez has a knack for handing fighters their first defeats. He’s done so against Edwards and more recently became the first person to stop Cristofer Rosales inside the distance last time out.
The Mexican bruiser also has some weaknesses to be exploited such as his tendency to stand square with a high guard presenting an open invitation for a brilliant body puncher like Harris.
Martinez is also open to the right hand when he
switches to southpaw so Harris has a real chance here.
Verdict: Harris is more gifted and better schooled in the sweet science but will eventually fall to the withering power of the Mexican warrior within six rounds.
Yafai vs. Gonzalez: WBA Super flyweight champion Kal Yafai (26-0, 15 KOs) will face former P4P king and four-division world champion Roman ‘Chocolatito’ Gonzalez (48-2, 40 KOs) in
another interesting undercard bout.
Yafai will be making the sixth defense of his 115Ib belt and was originally slated to fight Juan Francisco Estrada to unify the titles until Estrada pulled out with a hand injury.
Enter Gonzalez, of Nicaragua, who has won world titles at strawweight, junior flyweight, flyweight and junior bantamweight. Gonzalez was out of the ring for 15 months with a knee injury but returned on December 23 to knockout Diomel Diocos in Japan.
This will be a fast turnaround fight for him in just two months.
Yafai has fought an array of limited opposition since seizing the WBA crown from Luis Concepcion in 2016 and currently stands as Britain’s longest-reigning world champion.
It’s no secret that Yafai has tremendous respect for the Nicaraguan, who has just two defeats at the hands of Srisaket Sor Rungvisai in his 16-year, 50-fight career.
“He’s a legend in the sport; he’s one of the guys I would watch on my way up and idolize. He’s unbelievable,” Yafai confessed.
Of course a win over ‘Chocolatito’ would raise Yafai’s profile and earn him the overdue respect from reluctant spectators. Kal is a decent talent but not the elite fighter that Eddie Hearn sometimes makes him out to be.
This fight is more about how much Gonzalez has left in the tank because he’s beaten fighters much
greater than Yafai in the past. Yafai looked sensational in retiring David Carmona in the seventh round in 2018 but appeared very ordinary against Mexico’s Israel Gonzalez.
This is an even-money fight that would not be close if it had taken place three years ago when Gonzalez was still at this peak.
Verdict: Yafai will give a good account of himself but the big fight experience of Gonzalez will be too much as he wins this one by decision.
Joseph Parker (26-2, 20 KOs) will begin his run for a second world title against Shawndell Winters (13-2, 12 KOs) in a heavyweight showdown
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