Notebook: Mikey Garcia, who won titles in four divisions, retires from boxing
Stevenson's next defense; 'Bam' gets new promotional deal; Tommy Fury barred from traveling to U.S.; Christy Martin's new gig; Quick hits; Show and tell
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With no fanfare, former four-division world titlist Mikey Garcia has retired from boxing.
There was no formal announcement, no video or press release. Instead, Garcia, a low-key person to begin with, simply changed his profile on Instagram to read “Retired Word Champ 126, 130, 135, 140 lbs.”
The weights indicate the divisions in which Garcia (40-2, 30 KOs), 34, of Moreno Valley, California, won world titles — featherweight to junior welterweight — during his professional career, which began in 2006.
“My brother had a great career in boxing,” Robert Garcia, Mikey’s brother and trainer, told Fight Freaks Unite in a text message, confirming the retirement. “He always did it his way. Became a five-time champion of the world in four divisions, something very few have accomplished. I am very proud of my brother. Now it's time to enjoy his family and loved ones.”
In March 2019, Garcia, a staple on the pound-for-pound list for several years, attempted to win a world title in a fifth division by moving up two weight classes, from lightweight to welterweight, by challenging 147-pound titlist Errol Spence Jr. It was a major pay-per-view event at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, but Garcia was outclassed in a shutout decision loss.
Garcia rebounded by knocking down former two-division titlist Jessie Vargas and winning a unanimous decision in March 2021 in Frisco, Texas, in one of the last major boxing events before the coronavirus pandemic shut down the sport for months.
A 20-month layoff followed before Garcia returned to face Spain’s little-known southpaw Sandor Martin in a fight contracted at 145 pounds this past October at Chukchansi Park in Fresno, California. It was supposed to be a tune-up fight to set up a bigger match, perhaps against former junior welterweight titlist Regis Prograis, but instead of the expected easy win for Garcia, Martin pulled one of the biggest upsets of the year in a majority decision victory.
Martin outboxed a lethargic Garcia to win 97-93 on two scorecards with the third reading 95-95.
Garcia notched notable victories over Orlando Salido (to win the WBO featherweight title), Juan Manuel Lopez, Roman Martinez (to win the WBO junior lightweight title), Dejan Zlaticanin (to win the WBC lightweight title), Adrien Broner, Sergey Lipinets (to win the IBF junior welterweight title) and Robert Easter Jr. (in a return to lightweight to unify the WBC and IBF belts).
Garcia, who turned professional with promoter Top Rank, lost 2½ years of his prime between January 2014 and July 2016 while embroiled in litigation over his contract, a case that was finally settled with Garcia becoming a free agent.
Stevenson hometown defense
Shakur Stevenson, whose Twitter bio reads “NEWARK MADE,” will return home for his first fight there since a nontitle bout in 2019.
Stevenson will defend his WBC/WBO junior lightweight title against Robson Conceicao on Sept. 23 in the main event of a Top Rank Boxing on ESPN card at the Prudential Center.
The fight will be Stevenson’s second 130-pound title defense and first since his routed Oscar Valdez in a title unification fight on April 30 at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.
Conceicao (17-1, 8 KOs), 33, is coming off a near-shutout 10-round decision over then-undefeated Xavier Martinez on Jan. 29 in Tulsa, Oklahoma. In his previous bout, Conceicao, a three-time Brazilian Olympian and 2016 gold medalist in Rio de Janeiro, lost a disputed decision challenging Valdez for the WBC title in September 2021.
Although Top Rank has not yet announced Stevenson-Conceicao, that did not stop Stevenson (18-0, 9 KOs), who turned 25 on Tuesday, from doing so on social media.
“Robson is a solid fighter,” Stevenson wrote. “He’s (an) Olympic gold medalist and arguably beat Valdez before me, so he deserve a shot at these belts before anyone. Oh yeah u other fighters try fighting each other and win. It’ll get more eyes on u and put u in position to face the champ.”
Stevenson, a southpaw, is a former featherweight titlist and a 2016 U.S. Olympic silver medalist. He won the WBO junior lightweight belt in October in a one-sided 10th-round knockout of Jamel Herring.
New deal for ‘Bam’
Jesse “Bam” Rodriguez, who retained the WBC junior bantamweight title in his first defense by eighth-round knockout of former two-time champion Srisaket Sor Rungvisai on Saturday in the DAZN main event, signed an extension to his promotional deal with Eddie Hearn’s Matchroom Boxing after the bout, the company announced.
Rodriguez (16-0, 11 KOs), 22, of San Antonio, who is the youngest active titleholder in boxing, won the vacant 115-pound belt in February by clear decision over former titlist Carlos Cuadras after stepping into replace the ill Sor Rungvisai on six days’ notice.
“I am delighted to sign with Eddie and Matchroom and so excited for the future,” Rodriguez said. “(Saturday) night was the best night of my career so far, beating a great fighter like Rungvisai in my hometown. But it’s only the beginning and there’s so much more that I can achieve. I was so happy because there was a lot of people doubting me before saying that I shouldn’t be at 115 pounds and that Rungvisai was going to KO me. So, for me to stop him, that’s a big statement. He has boxed the very best and has not been stopped since his first two fights, so that says a lot about me.”
Rodriguez reiterated that he might drop down to flyweight to pursue another world title.
“The plan has been to go to 112 pounds and win a title there, but I’m open to fighting anyone,” Rodriguez said. “I want to keep improving and fighting the best. Every fighter wants to be on that pound-for-pound list, and you get there by fighting the best and beating them.”
Robert Garcia, Rodriguez’s trainer and manager, was glad to get the deal done under which Rodriguez will continue to be co-promoted by Teiken Boxing.
“I am very happy to extend our promotional contract with Eddie and Matchroom,” Garcia said. “Mr. (Akihiko) Honda’s Teiken Promotions and Matchroom together have done a great job. I want to thank Mr. Honda for being there since day one and believing in Jesse’s abilities. I also want to thank Eddie and Matchroom for believing in Jesse and giving us the opportunity to showcase Jesse’s talent. Together we are going to do great things with Bam.”
Hearn plans to have Rodriguez fight again in San Antonio and said he will strive to deliver him the biggest fights.
“The options for Jesse are endless from 108 pounds to 115 pounds, and with Matchroom and Robert Garcia behind him, we’re going to be able to showcase this sensational fighter on the biggest platforms.”
T. Fury barred from U.S. travel
England’s Tommy Fury, who was scheduled to be at Madison Square Garden in New York on Wednesday for a news conference promoting his recently announced fight with Jake Paul, was barred on Monday from traveling to the United States.
Paul, the popular social media influencer, and Fury, the half brother of heavyweight champion Tyson Fury, are scheduled to fight in an eight-round cruiserweight bout on Aug. 6 in the main event of a Showtime PPV event at Madison Square Garden.
Tommy Fury was due to fly to New York for the news conference but was not permitted to board his flight at London’s Heathrow Airport.
I wrote about the situation for Big Fight Weekend. Read the story here: https://bigfightweekend.com/news/tommy-fury-barred-from-traveling-to-us-for-jake-paul-presser/
Christy Martin’s new role
Christy Martin, the trailblazing women’s champion and International Boxing Hall of Famer, has taken the job as director of operations for Reading, Pennsylvania-based King's Promotions.
"This is a huge addition for King's Promotions,” King Promotions CEO Marshall Kauffman said. “Christy Martin will add so much to what we have built at King's Promotions. What Christy brings to the table is endless in what she has done in the sport of boxing both in and out of the ring. In her role, Christy will help with all aspects relating to the boxing end of things, such as helping us identify and sign talent, matchmaking, day-to-day operations and mentorship to all of our fighters, especially with our talented female fighters such as WBC super featherweight champion Alycia Baumgardner, Danielle Perkins and undefeated flyweight Leanna Cruz.
“Also, Christy has established herself as a top promoter in her own right, so we will have access to some of the fighters that she works with, and that will make our roster that much stronger and deeper.”
Martin, who was part of the 2020 Hall of Fame class but not inducted until earlier this month because the pandemic caused the ceremonies for the past two years to be postponed, is excited to get started.
“This is a great opportunity for not only me, but for some of the fighters that I have been working with,” Martin said. “My company, Christy Martin Promotions, will sit idle as I am 100 percent on board with King's Promotions. Marshall is one of the few promoters that gives female fighters a platform. Hopefully, my presence will help inspire not only the great fighters like Alycia, Danielle and Leanna, but all of the fighters under the King's banner.
“I have had the ups and downs in my career and personal life, so I feel that I can mentor these young athletes. I have always wanted to stay involved with the sport, and now to join King's, I can do it at a higher level, and in the process I can take some of the load off of Marshall, and be his right hand.”
NFL stars in exhibition
Adrian Peterson and Le’Veon Bell, both former All-Pro running backs in the NFL and current free agents, will meet in a five-round heavyweight exhibition bout (with two-minute rounds) on July 30 at Crypto Arena in Los Angeles. The fight will be on the undercard of the “Social Gloves” pay-per-view event that organizers announced on Tuesday.
The card is headlined by an official six-round fight between YouTube personalities Austin McBroom and Aneson Gib at 180 pounds.
The card also will include a five-round heavyweight exhibition between Nick Young, who played 11 seasons in the NBA and was on the 2018 champion Golden State Warriors, and hip-hop star BlueFace.
Peterson, 37, best known for his time with the Minnesota Vikings, has played for seven teams during his record-setting career in which he was the 2012 NFL MVP. He ranks fifth on the all-time NFL rushing list. Bell, 30, has played for five teams but is best known for his 2013 to 2018 stint with the Pittsburgh Steelers. He also won a Super Bowl ring with the 2020 Kansas City Chiefs.
Former unified lightweight champion Teofimo Lopez’s ring return to headline a Top Rank Boxing on ESPN card on Aug. 13 will come against Pedro Campa, the long-expected opponent. Contracts for the fight are now signed, a source with knowledge of the details told Fight Freaks Unite. The card will likely take place in Las Vegas. Lopez (16-1, 12 KOs), 24, who is moving up to junior welterweight, will be fighting for the first time since losing his unified 135-pound belts to mandatory challenger George Kambosos Jr. by split decision in a fight of the year contender on Nov. 27 in New York. Campa (33-1-1, 22 KOs), 30, of Mexico, has won three fights in a row.
The oft-postponed WBC purse bid for the fight between unified junior welterweight champion Josh Taylor (19-0, 13 KO), 31, of Scotland, and mandatory challenger Jose Zepeda (35-2, 27 KOs), 32, of La Puente, California, a former two-time title challenger, which was originally slated for June 10 but been postponed multiple times, is now due to take place on Friday — unless the sides make a deal — the WBC announced.
The WBC also has a purse bid scheduled for Friday for a light heavyweight title eliminator between former super middleweight champion Callum Smith (28-1, 20 KOs), 32, of England, and Mathieu Bauderlique (21-1, 12 KOs), 32, a southpaw from France. Since losing his super middleweight title by one-sided decision to Canelo Alvarez in December 2020, Smith has won his only fight in a move up to 175 pounds for a devastating second-round knockout of Lenin Castillo in September. Bauderlique has won nine fights in a row but has faced very modest opposition with his most notable victory coming in his last fight in September. That is when he stopped former world title challenger Igor Mikhalkin in the seventh round to win the vacant European title.
One of the bouts that likely will land on the undercard of the third Canelo Alvarez-Gennadiy Golovkin fight on Sept 17 (DAZN PPV) in Las Vegas is an IBF flyweight title eliminator between Joselito Velazquez and former IBF junior flyweight titlist Felix Alvarado, sources told Fight Freaks Unite. Velazquez (15-0-1, 10 KOs), 28, a 2016 Mexican Olympian, who shares trainer Eddy Reynoso with Alvarez, is coming off a sixth-round knockout of Jose Soto on May 7 on the undercard of Alvarez’s loss to Dmitry Bivol. Alvarado (38-2, 33 KOs), 33, of Nicaragua, moved up to flyweight for his last fight and knocked out Luis Cerrito Hernandez in the fourth round in May.
Show and tell
The prime Manny Pacquiao had the combination of speed and power that was something to behold. He won his first title at flyweight and then stormed through the junior featherweight, featherweight and junior lightweight divisions after arriving in America. After winning a split decision over rival Juan Manuel Marquez in their second fight to take his junior lightweight title the question was how would Pacquiao fare moving up even higher in weight? There were real questions about that when he took on WBC lightweight titlist David Diaz on HBO PPV in his next fight. But Pacquiao looked awesome and showed he could handle the weight with no problem as he tore Diaz apart in a fight I covered at ringside at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas.
Pacquiao cut Diaz up, won every round and knocked him out face first in the ninth round to win a title in his fifth weight class on his way to winning titles in a record eight divisions. The fight was on June 28, 2008 — 14 years ago on Tuesday. Here is an extraordinarily rare site poster (a duratran) that hung in a Mandalay Bay light box during fight week in my collection.
Garcia photo: Ed Mulholland/Matchroom Boxing; Stevenson photo: Mikey Williams/Top Rank; Fury photo: Queensberry Promotions; Martin photo: Associated Press
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