Mikey Garcia was over the contracted 126-pound weight limit prior to his last fight in June — a fourth-round knockout of former titleholder Juan Manuel Lopez. But THE RING featherweight champion believes that he will carry “good power in both hands” during Saturday’s junior lightweight debut against WBO beltholder Roman “Rocky” Martinez on HBO.
Garcia (32-0, 27 knockouts), who turns 26 next month, is the WBO’s mandatory challenger to face Martinez (30-1-1, 20 KOs), who is coming off a split-decision victory in April over previously unbeaten Diego Magdaleno and a split-draw with Juan Carlos Burgos in January.
“Rocky Martinez is a gritty, resourceful and determined fighter. His will to win is his strongest attribute. But he’s never faced anyone with the versatility of Mikey Garcia,” states John J. Raspanti of Doghouseboxing.com, KO Monthly Magazine and examiner.com. “Garcia can box or slug. His 27 knockouts in 32 wins is a testament to his punching power. Martinez will force the issue, but Garcia is faster in every way.”
A Mexican-American boxer-puncher from Oxnard, Calif., Garcia scored four knockdowns during an eighth-round technical decision that dethroned Orlando Salido in January.
Since falling by unanimous decision to Ricky Burns in September of 2010, Martinez, of Puerto Rico, is 3-0-1, with one stoppage, and has been involved in three split-decisions — one being the draw.
“Rocky Martinez has been living on the razor’s edge for a while,” states Cliff Rold of BoxingScene.com. “He makes great fights, but at a certain class. Mikey Garcia appears to be one notch above that.”
Below, RingTV.com sought the opinions of 21 boxing insiders concerning what will transpire in Garcia-Martinez.
Mikey Garcia UD 12 Rocky Martinez: This won’t be an easy night for Mikey Garcia. Rocky Martinez is an experienced warrior with an iron will and underrated ring generalship.
The Puerto Rican veteran is a naturally aggressive fighter, which will play into the counter-punching style and heavy hands of Garcia, but he also knows when to back off and box.
Martinez isn’t as smart as Garcia or as technically sharp, so I favor the younger, bigger (Mikey’s coming up in weight, but he was a full-bodied lightweight in the amateurs), harder-punching man. However, Martinez is going to test Garcia’s spirit and resolve in a competitive 12-round fight.
Record: 13-9 [Golovkin mid-rounds TKO Stevens]
Mikey Garcia TKO 11 Rocky Martinez: Roman Martinez represents another milestone on Mikey Garcia’s projected path to major stardom. The poised Garcia is as technically proficient as any fighter on the map these days.
Against Martinez, he gets a chance to answer a lingering question about his durability. First and foremost, Martinez is tough. He’s never been on the canvas.
But Garcia figures to put him there for the first time with counter-punching power strengthened in the move up to 130 pounds from 126, which he could not make in his last outing.
Record: 22-8 [Golovkin TKO 9 Stevens]
Mikey Garcia TKO 8 Rocky Martinez: As one of the most complete fighters in boxing today, Mikey Garcia should get a good workout from Roman Martinez, but not much more.
Rocky will do his best to go the distance, but the power and superior technique of Garcia will be his undoing.
When the cost of getting inside against Garcia becomes too high a price to pay in the first half of the fight, Martinez will retreat to the outside where he’ll be picked off by accurate counter punches.
Record: 19-8 [Golovkin KO 3 Stevens]
Mikey Garcia TKO 11 Rocky Martinez: For me, Mikey Garcia is one of the best young fighters in the world who has the potential to be a future pound-for-pound entrant. He has quick hands, punching power, defensive finesse and nice lateral movement.
Stepping up four pounds is also a moot point for the challenger because he has clearly outgrown featherweight and could actually be even more effective at the new weight class.
Ricky Burns out-boxed and out-gunned Rocky Martinez in 2010, and I expect Garcia to post a similar but more conclusive beating which will ultimately lead to a stoppage victory.
Martinez has retained his title on three consecutive split-decisions against what I perceive to be lesser fighters than Garcia and he looks to be on borrowed time. In a nutshell, Mikey appears far too gifted for the champion, who I give no more than a puncher’s chance in this fight.
Record: 12-7 [Golovkin TKO 3 Stevens]
Mikey Garcia UD 12 Rocky Martinez: This is an intriguing fight because Mikey Garcia, a towering featherweight, will be fighting a slightly taller and larger man capable of successfully fighting at long range or engaging in a bomb-throwing war.
Rocky Martinez’s best chance is to push the fight early because of Garcia’s painfully slow starts but the guess here is that Martinez will adopt a more respectful approach.
That will allow Garcia time to shake off the initial doldrums and kick it up into a higher gear, a gear that will allow him to zoom past Martinez and capture his second divisional title.
Record: 18-7 [Golovkin TKO 7 Stevens]
Mikey Garcia TKO 7 Rocky Martinez: This one has the makings of a war, but the real difference-maker will be the power of Mikey Garcia. This fight is tailor-made for Garcia to look great as Rocky Martinez often drifts into brawl mode and takes more risks than he should. Martinez is the type of fighter to keep coming when he really would need to learn how to back off before he walks right into a menacing combination from Garcia that puts him on the canvas.
Martinez is all guts, but he’s very flawed and escaped his last three fights with split-decision victories against foes that aren’t even close to the caliber of Garcia. Martinez probably won’t have to worry about the judges though, because Garcia won’t let it get that far if Martinez does what we expect him to do on Saturday night.
Record: 7-1 [Golovkin TKO 9 Stevens]
Mikey Garcia TKO 8 Rocky Martinez: Mikey Garcia will be stronger and more energetic after not having to try to make the featherweight limit for this fight. Rocky Martinez is a tough guy who possesses underrated power.
But Martinez’s aggression will lead to him getting stopped for the first time in his career against the more complete Garcia, who will wear him down and win a world title in a second weight class.
Record: 17-6 [Golovkin KO 4 Stevens]
Mikey Garcia TKO8 Rocky Martinez: Unlike in his last outing, Mikey Garcia will be free of the weight problems that ended his run at 126 pounds.
I see him systematically wearing down a game Rocky Martinez — first to the body, then upstairs to the head — en route to the stoppage.
Record: 16-8 [Golovkin KO 6 Stevens]
Mikey Garcia TKO 11 Rocky Martinez: Mikey Garcia just keeps getting better and better. I believe he’s on the cusp of being a Top-10 pound for pound entrant, and this fight could catapult him in.
Rocky Martinez is a good fighter, but for a champion, rather ordinary, and not special enough to handle Garcia. I suspect Mikey will start fairly slowly, but he’s a patient fighter so that’s really not a concern.
Martinez will press and perhaps get in some good shots, but I don’t see him winning him more than a couple of rounds, if that, in a long fight.
Mikey will break him down, slow him up, hurt him in the second half of the fight and put him away late. Garcia is a great finisher, one of the best in the sport, so if he does get a chance to close the show earlier, he’ll do it.
Record: 18-11 [Golovkin KO 3 Stevens]
Mikey Garcia late-round stoppage Rocky Martinez: I like the still-improving, smoother Mikey Garcia to work some magic on his Rocky” opponent, Rocky Martinez.
Record: 16-10 [Golovkin KO 4 Stevens]
Mike Garcia W 12 Rocky Martinez: Mikey Garcia isn’t getting an easy assignment as he makes his first official move into the 130-pound weight class on Saturday against Roman Martinez.
Martinez has been an interesting fighter the last few years. He’s been part of so many razor-close fights and has found himself on the winning end of them almost every time.
Against Garcia, he’ll have to try and make it another close fight and not fall behind the way all other Garcia opponents have. A decisive victory for Garcia will prove he is one of the best young up-and-coming fighters in the sport and a future pound-for-pound fighter.
I expect his technical proficiency to help him break down Martinez and like up the points down the stretch. Martinez needs to prove he can take Garcia’s punch, and if he can, try and make it a war. I’m leaning Garcia by a 117-111 type decision.
Record: 13-3 [Golovkin KO 3 Stevens]
Mikey Garcia TKO 11 Rocky Martinez: Rocky Martinez is a gritty, resourceful and determined fighter. His will to win is his strongest attribute. But he’s never faced anyone with the versatility of Mikey Garcia. Garcia can box or slug.
His 27 knockouts in 32 wins is a testament to his punching power. Martinez will force the issue, but Garcia is faster in every way. In the later rounds, Garcia will connect with some heavy shots leading to a stoppage in
Record: 9-5 [Golovkin TKO 4 Stevens]
Mikey Garcia W 12 Rocky Martinez: After how Rocky Martinez has barely scraped by this year, how could anyone truly expect him to beat Mikey Garcia, one of the best in the world right now?
Unless Garcia has trouble with the added weight — or even making the new limit — this should be relatively easy for him. Martinez is just another level or two or three below Garcia, and it it’ll show in the ring.
Record: 20-9 [Golovkin KO 3 Stevens]
Mikey Garcia W 12 Rocky Martinez: I like Mikey Garcia to win a clear decision over Rocky Martinez. Garcia has far better skills and has had a great camp thus far down in Oxnard. I don’t see Martinez being too big of a problem for him.
Record: 15-6 [Golovkin mid-round KO Stevens]
Mikey Garcia KO Rocky Martinez: Rocky Martinez has been living on the razor’s edge for a while. He makes great fights, but at a certain class.
Mikey Garcia appears to be one notch above that. Garcia’s precise punching and skill set are too much for Martinez here.
This could end by a stoppage caused by swelling of the eyes at some point as Garcia busts up Martinez’s face. It could also end on a straight knockout.
Record: 20-9 [Golovkin KO Stevens]
Record: 24-5 [Golovkin KO 8 Stevens]
Mikey Garcia W 12 Rocky Martinez: I’m definitely riding with Mikey Garcia from now on. I like him a lot. No disrespect to a good fighter like Rocky Martinez. But I just think Mikey has that something extra that only a few have. Mikey with a hard fought but clear decision.
Record: 17-6 [Quillin late-rounds KO Rosado]
Mikey Garcia KO 10 Rocky Martinez: Roman Martinez is a tough, scrappy fighter who usually finds a way to win, but I think he’s in over his head against Mikey Garcia.
From the photos I’ve seen of Garcia in camp, he looks like a shredded beast after working with new strength and conditioning coach Alex Ariza. I expect him to be dynamic in his new weight class.
Record: 11-4 [Golovkin KO 5 Stevens]
Mikey Garcia TKO 10 Rocky Martinez: Mikey Garcia is quickly becoming a star in the sport, and it might not be long before he is knocking on the door of the pound-for-pound Top 10.
Rocky Martinez is a good fighter who will challenge Mikey for a few rounds, but Garcia is one of the most accurate punchers in the sport today and will be sharp.
I think Martinez will be able to stay on his feet, but by the 10th round, he will have taken a beating. I look for a late stoppage from Martinez’s corner after the ninth or 10th round.
Record: 12-5 [Golovkin UD 12 Stevens]
Mikey Garcia TKO 7 Rocky Martinez: Mikey Garcia, to me, is the Gennady Golovkin of the lighter weights. He has heavy hands, which equate to lights-out punching power, and under the tutelage of his older brother Robert Garcia, he has learned boxing skills that might equal his power.
Like Golovkin, Garcia’s patient, and never gets reckless as he stalks his prey and then goes in for the kill. Rocky Martinez has the edge in experience, and that’s it. Martinez is coming off three split-decisions comprised of two wins and a draw.
Garcia is angry about coming in overweight in his last fight and losing his featherweight title on the scale. Garcia goes up a weight class and wants Martinez’s title badly. And he will get it.
Record: 17-6 [Golovkin mid-round KO Stevens]
Mikey Garcia TKO 10 Rocky Martinez: Mike Garcia steps up four pounds to take on WBO champ Rocky Martinez. Garcia, for me, holds all the advantages.
He’s faster, a better boxer and hits hard enough to get Martinez’s attention. Martinez isn’t the most educated of boxers, but he’s tough and has good power.
However on the night, I expect Mikey’s boxing skills to give him an early lead. When Martinez starts taking a few risks, Mikey will pick him off and make him pay late in the fight, forcing the stoppage.
Record: 11-6 [Golovkin KO 4 Stevens]
By a shutout 21-0, the experts favor Mikey Garcia to dethrone Rocky Martinez as WBO junior lightweight beltholder.
[Note: Martinez-Burgos was a draw, meaning all who selected otherwise received a loss]
Photo by Naoki Fukuda
Photos by Chris Farina, Top Rank
Lem Satterfield can be reached at [email protected]