A massive fight card breaks out in Corpus Christie Saturday night as three world titles are on the line at American Bank Center, with the lead bout featuring Roman “Rocky” Martinez defending his WBO super feather belt against Mikey Garcia.
Martinez, 27-1-2 (16), is in his second reign as WBO 126 pound king, won with a 2012 split decision over Miguel Beltran Jr for the vacant strap and has since retained on two occasions, a split draw with Juan Carlos Burgos and a split decision over Diego Magdaleno.
25 year old Californian Garcia, 32-0 (27), finally emerged from his long climb up the ladder, accentuated by his occupation as sparring partner to many top lighter weight fighters, to bash around Orlando Salido in January and capture the WBO feather bauble but lost the title on the scales five months later before impressively halting Juan Manuel Lopez in just four rounds.
Martinez is the more experienced, seven world title contests versus two for Garcia, bigger fighter, with natural size and height advantages but the 30 year old Puerto Rican has several disadvantages on his side of the fence. These include losing his WBO crown to Ricky Burns in 2010 and winning his last three fights by very slim margins.
For these reasons, the younger, fresher, faster Garcia comes into this fight as the favorite to emerge wearing the WBO crown, which he should do if he can continue get the champion backing up and on the defensive.
But, Martinez should be the toughest test yet for Garcia, who must press the action and force a close quarters fight and avoid boxing at range against the lanky champion.
Also on the bill, the vacant WBO light middleweight title is on offer as undefeated contenders Demetrius Andrade, 19-0 (13), and Vanes Martirosyan, 33-0-1 (21), clash.
Martirosyan has the edge in experience, having collected an armful of regional titles and surprisingly held the highly regarded Erislandy Lara to a draw in a WBC title eliminator a year ago.
Southpaw Andrade has faced a pedestrian level of opposition thus far, aside from a 2011 decision over Grady Brewer, but has looked to be a far higher plane of ability and this one should be a very entertaining contest.
Big punching WBA featherweight champ Nicholas Walters, 22-0 (18), gets in the ring for the first time since his title winning effort over Daulis Prescott a year ago as he meets another slugger, Alberto Garza, 25-5-1 (20).
Garza won a slew of regional trophies on Mexico but is just two appearances from a stoppage loss for the WBC silver belt and could be in tough against former WBA Fedelatin ruler Walters.
In a rematch, featherweights Nonito Donaire, 31-2 (20), and Vic Darchinyan, 39-5-1 (28), will look to reprise their 2007 IBF/IBO flyweight title clash, in which Donaire rocketed to stardom with a shocking fifth round TKO of previously undefeated Darchinyan.
Both men went on to many world title fights, with Donaire doing better than Darchinyan until his exposure at the hands of Guillermo Rigondeaux in April for the WBO and WBA super bantam belts.
For Darchinyan, this bout presents an opportunity for revenge, while Donaire will look to show that his loss to Rigondeaux was an aberration.