The top super featherweight in the world is back in action tonight as New York’s famed Madison Square Garden plays host to WBO champion Mikey Garcia’s defense against Juan Carlos Burgos.
Burgos, 30-1-2 (20), views the WBO strap as his own after he was denied the belt following his disputed split draw against titleholder Roman “Rocky” Martinez in January of last year.
He’ll have to prove that claim however as Garcia, 33-0 (28), had no such difficulty against Martinez, removing the WBO crown by way of a body shot KO of Martinez in eight rounds two months ago.
While Burgos was in an absolute war with Martinez, Garcia pounded the lanky Puerto Rican although the Californian was put on the canvas in the second round via a short counter right hand.
That mis-step by Garcia highlights the hope that Burgos will employ in his attempt to derail the dominant run the two-weight world champion has been on since stopping Jonathan Victor Barros in 2012.
Garcia is a very hard puncher with exceptional timing, quick reflexes and a good defense, but, he does tend to achieve that power with fairly wide punches.
Martinez produced his knockdown, from which Garcia was clearly unhurt, by punching with the Oxnard, California resident during one of those roundhouses and no doubt Mexico’s Burgos will try to do the same thing on a grander scale.
Burgos is a very efficient fighter with a good offense that features a committed body attack behind a sharp jab, which could be a problem for the shorter Garcia.
But Burgos doesn’t have the best defense, particularly against left hooks, as illustrated in his draw last time out against Yakubu Amidu, who forced Burgos to give up his height advantage by fighting on the inside.
This all points to Burgos looking to stick and move, making Garcia lunge in at the risk of eating counter shots. If the challenger can pull that off and keep a distance, he’ll look to get inside briefly with good combinations to the head and body before going back outside.
But Garcia has handled the combined efforts of Orlando Salido, Juan Manuel Lopez and Martinez over his last three appearances and it is no accident that he is one of the top lighter weight fighters on the globe.
Expect the champion to give away the first few rounds in his efforts to cut off the ring against Burgos but once he does that and gains proximity to the challenger, he will probably start landing bombs.
Can Burgos take the punches of the heavy-handed Garcia? If he can, he does have the skills to possibly produce and upset but if not, it’s goodnight New York.
Chief support on the bill is provided by unbeaten heavyweight prospects Artur Szpilka, 16-0 (12), of Poland and America’s Bryant Jennings, 17-0 (9).
The combatants are the same size and have both fought record building opposition but Szpilka seems to have a bit of a dodgy chin and the bout could come down to whether or not Jennings can land flush.