Former two-champion Mikey Garcia eyeing big accomplishments in 2017

ASSOCIATED PRESS FILE After a lengthy legal battle with Top Rank, Oxnard's Mikey Garcia is free to sign with another promotional company and hopes to get back into the ring in the near future.

Mikey Garcia will fight for a title in a third weight class Jan. 28 in Las Vegas/Associated Press file photo

 

Mikey Garcia has big goals for 2017. He will start trying to accomplishing them Jan. 28 when he challenges Dejan Zlaticanin of Montenegro for his lightweight title at MGM Grand in Las Vegas (on Showtime).

“I’m really happy to have been given this opportunity to claim a world title in a third division,” said Garcia, who has won titles at featherweight and super featherweight. “This is going to be an amazing fight. He’s a hungry world champion, he’s very dangerous. These are the kind of fights I want. This is what I need to prove myself.

“This is only the beginning. This is going to be a huge year for me. I want to win multiple titles and maybe conquer multiple divisions this year.”

Garcia, of Oxnard, did not fight for 2 1/2 years because of a contract dispute with his former promoter, Bob Arum of Top Rank Inc. After a settlement, Garcia got back into the ring this past July 30 and stopped Elio Rojas in the fifth round at Barclays Center in Brooklyn.

Garcia, 28, is 35-0 with 29 knockouts. Zlaticanin, 32, is 22-0 with 15 knockouts. They will tangle underneath the featherweight championship rematch between Leo Santa Cruz of Lincoln Heights and Carl Frampton of Northern Ireland.

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Carl Frampton: In spite of Leo Santa Cruz’s personal issues, he fought hard

Leo Santa Cruz vs. Carl Frampton: Winner, Scorecard and Reaction

Carl Frampton will take on Leo Santa Cruz in a Jan. 28 rematch in Las Vegas/AP photo by Peter Morrison

 

There has been some chatter about how difficult it must have been for Leo Santa Cruz to train for his fight this past July 30 against Carl Frampton of Northern Ireland. Santa Cruz’s father, Jose, was very sick from his battle with cancer, so it’s understandable if the younger Santa Cruz wasn’t entirely focused on the task inside the ring. (Jose Santa Cruz is now in remission).

Frampton, who took Santa Cruz’s featherweight title via majority decision that night at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, concedes Santa Cruz had a lot going on from a personal standpoint. But he finds it hard to believe Santa Cruz could have fought much harder than he did.

“There’s no doubt that Leo went through a difficult time with his father’s illness,” said Frampton, who Jan. 28 will tangle with Santa Cruz in a rematch at MGM Grand in Las Vegas (on Showtime). “I also know that Leo trained very hard anyway. He threw about a thousand (1,002) punches last fight and was throwing all the way to the end. You can’t throw much more than that, so I don’t think he’s going to improve his work rate.
“I believe he’ll come up with a different game plan, but I genuinely believe that I’ll be able to deal with anything he brings to the ring. It’s not going to be an easy fight, but I’ll do whatever it takes to win and I believe I will.”

 

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Leo Santa Cruz, Carl Frampton exchange pleasantries at L.A. news conference promoting their rematch

Leo Santa Cruz

Leo Santa Cruz/Photo courtesy of Premier Boxing Champions

 

Trash-talking is part of the sweet science. Heck, it’s part of every sport. But it’s always nice when there is none because there’s nothing wrong with athletes showing some class.

Leo Santa Cruz of Lincoln Heights and Carl Frampton of Belfast, Northern Ireland on Thursday played host to a Los Angeles news conference promoting their Jan. 28 rematch at MGM Grand in Las Vegas (on Showtime). The two squared off on July 30 at Barclays Center in New York City, Frampton taking Santa Cruz’s featherweight world title via majority decision in a close, and terrific, fight.

“I think the rematch with Leo Santa Cruz is going to be an amazing fight,” Frampton said to reporters and fans outside the Los Angeles Central Public Library. “The first one is considered one of the fights of the year. I don’t think it’s going to be any different. I think we’re kicking off 2017 with a bang, and Leo is an amazing fighter.”

Frampton (23-0, 14 KOs) thanked Santa Cruz (32-1-1, 18 KOs) for giving him the shot in July, and that he was only too happy to give him the rematch as quickly as possible.

“These are the type of fights I want to be involved in,” said Frampton, 29. “If you want people to remember you in 20 or 30 years time, when you thank boxing, you need to be thanking guys like Leo Santa Cruz. I respect him a hell of a lot, I respect him and his team.”

Santa Cruz, 28, was equally kind.

“Carl Frampton is a great fighter and you guys saw, he got the respect from you guys because he showed that he’s a great fighter, a great champion,” he said. “And I know it’s going to be a pretty even fight this time, too, a pretty close fight because we both are world champions and we both train really hard for our families, for you guys, for the fans – to give them great shows.”

Santa Cruz a couple of days earlier at a news conference in Belfast said that he’s looking forward to this training camp because for the first fight his father’s health was weighing heavily on him.

Promoter Richard Schaefer of Ringstar Spors announced at the news conference that Jose Santa Cruz’s cancer is in remission. A big round of applause followed.

Schaefer said more than half of the 13,000-plus tickets available for this were sold on the first day. They are priced $54, $104, $204, $304, $404 and $504.

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Abner Mares believes nearly a year with Robert Garcia will benefit him Dec. 10

Abner Mares/Associated Press photo by Isaac Brekken

 

Abner Mares wants to again be a world champion in the worst way. Mares, who has won titles in three weight classes, parted ways with longtime trainer Clemente Medina and hired the more famous Robert Garcia to help fuel that endeavor.

That was 10 months ago. In the opinion of Mares (29-2-1, 15 KOs), that makes this trainer change different than most. That was evident when he was asked Monday during a conference call to explain how he might have changed under Garcia.

“I know once you get a new coach they tend to get a fight right away, and they tend to fight the next six to eight weeks, and you don’t see much of a difference,” said Mares, who Dec. 10 will challenge Jesus Cuellar (28-1, 21 KOs) of Argentina for his featherweight title at Galen Center (on Showtime). “Why? Because you only have that small period of time to train and get to know each other. And I just mentioned a whole year with Robert and not only a whole year with Robert, a whole year of getting ready for this fight against a southpaw.
“And you guys know what type of coach Robert is. Not only does he bring  education to your boxing skills, but also that motivation. It’s always good to have that motivation, knowing that you have one of the best in your corner. So, you will see a different Abner and I think the best way to answer your question is you will just see a more mature fighter in me.”
 Mares has not fought since losing a majority decision to Leo Santa Cruz in a fight for a vacant featherweight title on Aug. 29, 2015.
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Richard Schaefer confirms his Ringstar Sports will co-promote Frampton-Santa Cruz rematch in Las Vegas

Carl Frampton celebrates his win after defeating Leo Santa Cruz in the 12 round WBA Super featherweight championship bout at Barclays Center on July 30, 2016 in the Brooklyn borough in New York City. (Photo by Anthony Geathers/Getty Images)

Carl Frampton celebrates his victory over Leo Santa Cruz on July 30 in New York City/Photo by Anthony Geathers, Getty Images

 

Promoter Richard Schaefer on Wednesday confirmed that his new company – Ringstar Sports – will co-promote the Jan. 28 rematch between featherweight champion Carl Frampton of Northern Ireland and Leo Santa Cruz of Lincoln Heights at MGM Grand in Las Vegas. RingTV.com reported this on Friday.

Schaefer is the former CEO of Golden Boy Promotions. He recently founded Ringstar, and his first order of business will be to co-promote the Dec. 10 fight between another featherweight champion – Jesus Cuellar of Argentina – and Abner Mares of Hawaiian Gardens at USC’s Galen Center (on Showtime).

Frampton took Santa Cruz’s belt via majority decision in July.

 

 

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Abner Mares would love to fight winner of the Santa Cruz-Frampton rematch

Abner Mares/Photo courtesy of Dave Mandel, Showtime

 

Abner Mares has always said he likes taking on the best fighters. Even after he lost his featherweight world title when he was knocked out in the first round by Jhonny Gonzalez in August 2013, that credo did not change as in his most recent fight – August 2015 – Mares tangled with featherweight champion Leo Santa Cruz. Santa Cruz won a decision, but Mares distinguished himself well enough.

Mares will be back Dec. 10 when he challenges another featherweight champion – Jesus Cuellar – for his belt at USC’s Galen Center (on Showtime). If Mares manages to emerge victorious, he knows what he’ll then want.

“I want the winner of the (Carl) Frampton vs. Santa Cruz rematch,” Mares said Thursday at a Los Angeles news conference. “I want to continue to fight the best.”

Santa Cruz lost his featherweight championship to Frampton via decision July 30 in Brooklyn. They will fight a rematch Jan. 28 at MGM Grand in Las Vegas (on Showtime).

Mares parted ways with his trainer – Clemente Medina – this past January and hired well-known Robert Garcia, who trains boxers out of his gym in Oxnard.

“I’ve been working with Abner almost this whole year,” Garcia said. “… We’ve been working side-by-side and we’ve had a lot of time to learn about each other.”

Mares has won world titles in three weight classes. But he hasn’t held a title in over three years. Garcia is just the trainer to help Mares get back in the championship saddle.

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Leo Santa Cruz will get opportunity to avenge his loss to Carl Frampton

Leo Santa Cruz

Leo Santa Cruz/Photo courtesy of Premier Boxing Champions

 

Leo Santa Cruz of Lincoln Heights is going to get a chance to avenge the only loss of his career when he takes on Carl Frampton in a featherweight world title fight Jan. 28 at MGM Grand in Las Vegas. It was one of several fights announced Tuesday that will be televised by Showtime.

Santa Cruz (32-1-1, 18 KOs) lost his championship belt to Frampton when Frampton beat him via majority decision July 30 at Barclays Center in Brooklyn. Frampton (23-0, 14), of Northern Ireland, won by scores of 114-114, 116-112 and 117-111.

Also on this card, Mikey Garcia (35-0, 29 KOs) of Oxnard will challenge Dejan Zlaticanin (22-0, 15 KOs) of Montenegro for his lightweight world title.

Among the other fights announced was the March 4 welterweight title-unification bout between Keith “One Time” Thurman and Danny Garcia. There is not yet a venue for this one, and it apparently is contingent upon Garcia (32-0, 18 KOs) beating Samuel Vargas in a Nov. 12 tuneup bout in Garcia’s native Philadelphia.

Thurman, of Clearwater, Fla., is 27-0 with 22 knockouts.

Also, Abner Mares (29-2-1, 15 KOs) of Hawaiian Gardens will challenge Jesus Cuellar (28-1, 21 KOs) of Argentina for his featherweight world title Dec. 10 at USC’s Galen Center.

 

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Leo Santa Cruz, Carl Frampton make weight for Saturday’s showdown

Leo Santa Cruz, left, and Carl Frampton pose after weighing in Friday for their featherweight title fight Saturday in Brooklyn/Photo courtesy of Amanda Westcott, Showtime

 

Champion Leo Santa Cruz and challenger Carl Frampton on Friday both made weight for their featherweight title fight Saturday at Barclays Center in Brooklyn (on Showtime).

Santa Cruz, of Lincoln Heights, weighed 125 1/2 pounds. Frampton, of Northern Ireland, weighed 125 1/4. The featherweight limit is 126.

Santa Cruz, 27, is 32-0-1 with 18 knockouts. He’ll be looking to make the second successful defense of his belt. Frampton, 29, is 22-0 with 14 knockouts. The former super bantamweight champion is moving up in weight for this bout.

 

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Mikey Garcia brimming with confidence ahead of first fight in 2 1/2 years

Mikey Garcia speaks at Thursday’s final news conference/Photo by Ed Diller, Dibella Entertainment

 

Some fighters might be a bit worried about having a fight for the first time in 2 1/2 years. Not Mikey Garcia. He’s brimming with as much confidence as ever.

“I have better skills than any fighter put in front of me,” said Garcia, who Saturday will take on Elio Rojas in a junior welterweight bout at Barclays Center in Brooklyn (on Showtime). “This will be the beginning of the next stage of my career, the most memorable part of my career.

Garcia, who was speaking at Thursday’s final news conference, has not fought since January 2014, when he defended his super featherweight title with a wide decision over Juan Carlos Burgos at Madison Square Garden.

Garcia (34-0, 28 KOs) then got into a contract hassle with his then-promoter, Bob Arum, and has not fought since. Garcia, who has won titles at featherweight and super featherweight, is now a free agent.

Rojas (24-2, 14 KOs), of the Dominican Republic, is expecting to beat Garcia.

“In this fight, I know I’m being brought in as an opponent,” said Rojas, a former featherweight champion. “But I’m going to let the fans know that I’m not just an opponent.

“I know who Mikey Garcia is. I have all the abilities to win on July 30. I’ve always been a boxer who was never protected. I always prepare to win the fight and this will be no exception.”

Rojas has had a layoff of 23 months.

Garcia-Rojas will fight underneath the featherweight world-title fight between champion Leo Santa Cruz of Lincoln Heights and Carl Frampton of Northern Ireland.

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Carl Frampton confident he can leave ring with Leo Santa Cruz’s title

Carl Frampton/Photo by Ed Diller, DiBella Entertainment

 

Carl Frampton will have his hands full Saturday night at Barclays Center in Brooklyn when he challenges Leo Santa Cruz (32-0-1, 18 KOs) of Lincoln Heights for his featherweight world title (on Showtime). But the former super bantamweight champion from Northern Ireland who is moving  up in weight has no doubt he can emerge with Santa Cruz’s belt.

“Leo is a great fighter,” Frampton said. “He’s world class. Easily the toughest opponent that I’ve faced so far. But I think I’m Leo’s best opponent as well. I think this has all the ingredients to be a top quality fight. I’ve had a hard training camp and I’m ready to leave everything in the ring.
“I’ve got a game plan. I’m not going to blink. We’re hoping that game-plan ‘A’ will work. But if not, I’ve got a few tricks up my sleeve.”
The way Frampton (22-0, 14 KOs) sees it, he has nothing to lose in this one.
“All the pressure is on Santa Cruz,” he said. “Everyone is expecting him to win. I’m going to come in there and upset him. I’m here to put on a great performance and bring the belt back home.”

 

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