NEW YORK (December 16, 2013) — Undefeated two-division world champion and Ventura County Police and Sheriff’s Reserve Officer Academy graduate MIKEY GARCIA returns to the stage where he won his first world title 12 months earlier — The Theater at Madison Square Garden — only this time he’ll be defending his second world championship belt in as many weight classes. Garcia will put his World Boxing Organization (WBO) junior lightweight title on the line against two-time world title challenger and current No. 1 contender JUAN CARLOS “Mini” BURGOS. Garcia vs. Burgos will be televised live on HBO Boxing After Dark®, Saturday, January 25, beginning at 9:45 p.m. ET/PT. The telecast will open with a 10-round battle between undefeated heavyweight contenders BRYANT JENNINGS and ARTUR SZPILKA.
These four warriors have a combined record of 96-1-2 (69 KOs) — a winning percentage of 97% and a victory by knockout ratio of 72%.
Promoted by Top Rank, in association with Banner Promotions, Thompson Boxing Promotions, Gary Shaw Productions, Warriors Boxing Promotions, Madison Square Garden and Tecate, tickets, priced at $200, $100, $50 and $25, go on sale This Friday! December 20 atNoon ET — THE perfect holiday gift for boxing fans. Tickets can be purchased at the Madison Square Garden Box Office, all Ticketmaster outlets, Ticketmaster charge by phone (866-858-0008), and online at www.ticketmaster.com and www.thegarden.com. .
The non-televised undercard will feature New York’s favorite light heavyweight, undefeated Top-10 contender “Irish” SEANIE MONAGHAN, 2012 Puerto Rican Olympian and undefeated lightweight contender FELIX VERDEJO and undefeated super middleweight contender JESSE HART, the son of Philadelphia boxing legend Eugene “Cyclone” Hart. The trio of young contenders boast a perfect record of 39-0 (29 KOs).
“We are proud to be presenting Mike Garcia once again,” said Hall of Fame promoter Bob Arum. “We believe Mikey is the next big superstar in boxing and in 2014 that will become evident.”
“We are really excited for Juan Carlos Burgos and his opportunity to win the world title that he should have already had,” said Arthur Pelullo, president of Banner Promotions, who co promotes Burgos with Thompson Boxing Promotions . “Juan was given that very questionable draw against Rocky Martinez last January 25th at The Garden that robbed him of the title. Mikey Garcia is a tremendous fighter, but we feel that Juan has the tools and the experience to get the win and become the new Junior Lightweight Champion of the World.”
“Burgos is primed for a big year in 2014,” said Ken Thompson, president of Thompson Boxing. “He’s one of the more talented boxers in his division and he’ll prove that against Mikey Garcia.”
“I’m happy to be returning to the ring,” said Garcia. ” Burgos is a very good fighter. He did very well against Rocky Martinez at The Garden last January and I think he is deserving of this title shot. There is no question we will give the fans a very exciting fight.”
“I’ve been looking forward to getting back in the ring,” Burgos said. “We’ve had a strong training camp with excellent sparring sessions. I know Mikey is a tough boxer, but I’ve been putting in the work and I expect a win on January 25.”
“With his two titles won in three victories on Boxing After Dark in 2013,” said Peter Nelson, director of programming, HBO Sports, “Mikey Garcia joined an elite class of fighters who emerged throughout the past season as boxing’s rising stars. Now, we’ll see if he can keep up that momentum or if his challenger Juan Carlos Burgos can steal it for himself. Opening the show, two undefeated heavyweights, Bryant Jennings and Artur Szpilka, face off in their HBO debuts, a compelling addition to the season premiere.”
“Madison Square Garden is excited to welcome back one of the top pound-for-pound fighters in the world — Mikey Garcia — for another great night of world championship boxing,” said Joel Fisher, executive vice president, MSG Sports. “Garcia versus Juan Carlos Burgos along with Seanie Monaghan and Felix Verdejo will be a thrilling night for fight fans and a great way to kick off another exciting year of boxing at The Garden.”
Garcia (33-0, 28 KOs), of Oxnard, Calif., returns to the ring having won 16 of his past 18 bouts by knockout and has not gone the distance in over three years. He became a two-division world champion in his last fight, stopping defending WBO junior lightweight champion Roman “Rocky” Martinez in the eighth round with a vicious body shot to the liver on November 9, in Corpus Christi, TX. Garcia won his first world title — the WBO featherweight championship — on January 19, at The Theater at Madison Square Garden, dethroning two-time featherweight champion Orlando Salido via an eighth-round technical win that had Garcia winning virtually every round against the seasoned veteran. He was forced to vacate the title in his first defense, for not being able to make the 126-pound weight limit. Though drained, he was still able to rise to the occasion and knock out former two-division world champion Juan Manuel “Juanma” Lopez in the fourth round last June 15. Garcia, 26, had a great year in 2012 too, knocking out one-time world title challenger Bernabe Concepcion and former world champion Mauricio Pastrana, in the seventh and second rounds, respectively. He ended his 2012 campaign by knocking out former World Boxing Association (WBA) featherweight champion Jonathan Barros in the eighth round. Garcia is trained by his father Eduardo Garcia and co-managed and trained by his brother, 2012 Trainer of the Year Robert Garcia, the former International Boxing Federation (IBF) junior lightweight champion.
Burgos (30-1-2, 20 KOs), of Tijuana, México, will be making his third attempt at a world title. After unsuccessfully challenging Hozumi Hasagawa for the vacant World Boxing Council (WBC) featherweight title in 2010, he moved up to the junior lightweight division stringing together a two-year, five-bout winning streak, including victories over Luis Cruz for the NABO title in 2011, and former world champion Cristobal Cruz for the WBC Silver championship belt in February 2012. In July 2012 Burgos stopped undefeated Cesar Vazquez in the third round to catapult himself into the No. 1 contender position. Burgos challenged defending WBO junior lightweight champion Rocky Martinez on the same card that saw Mikey Garcia stop Orlando Salido. Unfortunately Burgos’ efforts were not rewarded the same way as both fighters walked away with a disputed draw despite Burgos landing 93 more punches than Martinez, according to CompuBox statistics, including 70 more power punches, and his 36% connect rate was 13% higher than Martinez. Burgos, who turns 26 on December 26 — Boxing Day — returns to ring world-rated No. 1 by the WBO.
Jennings (17-0, 9 KOs), of Philadelphia, PA, is picking up steam, winning four of his last five bouts by knockout. One of the brightest lights among U.S. heavyweight contenders, Jennings, 29, captured the USBA heavyweight title in June of 2012, winning a 10-round decision over Steve Collins. He successfully defended that title in December 2012, knocking out Bowie Tupou in the fifth round. He only had one fight in 2013 — a sixth-round stoppage victory of Andrey Fedosov in June. Collins, Tupou and Fedosov had a combined record of 71-5-1 when they faced Jennings, who enters this fight with a new managerial and promotional team. He is currently world-rated No. 4 by the WBC and No. 5 by the WBA.
Szpilka (16-0, 12 KOs), of Krakow, Poiland, enters this fight having won 10 of his previous 12 fights by knockout, including three of the four bouts he fought in 2013. He has picked up an American following thanks to his two nationally-televised knockout victories over Mike Mollo in 2013, where both men hit the deck in each of their action-packed fights. Another highlight for Szpilka was his 10-round unanimous decision victory over Brian Minto for the interim WBC Baltic heavyweight title. He enters this fight world-rated No. 14 by the WBC.
One of New York’s top boxing attractions, Monaghan (19-0, 12 KOs), of Long Beach, NY, is the reigning WBC Continental Americas light heavyweight champion. He captured that title in June 2012, knocking out Romaro Johnson in the eighth round, and has successfully defended it twice — via a 10-round unanimous decision in October 2012 and in his pay-per-view debut, on the Timothy Bradley vs. Juan Manuel Márquez welterweight champion card, by stopping Anthony Caputo-Smith in the third round. Monaghan enters this fight having won four of his last six fights by stoppage and world-rated No. 6 by the IBF and No. 10 by the WBA. He will be facing Fabio Garrido (19-4, 15 KOs), of Säo Paulo, Brazil, in a 10-round light heavyweight battle. Garrido, who has won his last three fights by knockout, captured the vacant Brazilian light heavyweight title on December 7, knocking out Ernesto Gonzalez in the first round.
Verdejo (9-0, 6 KOs), of San Juan, Puerto Rico, has not only transitioned from a stellar amateur, where he fought on Puerto Rico’s 2012 Olympic team, to an exciting professional, he has also ignited the passions of his island’s boxing fans who currently have no world champions representing them. In short, he is showing the potential for being Puerto Rico’s next big boxing star, following the lineage of Felix Trinidad and Miguel Cotto in attracting legions of fans to his all-action fights not only in Puerto Rico, but in New York, Las Vegas and Florida. Verdejo, 20, fought eight times in 2013 and only went the distance twice. He will be facing Lauro Alcantar (8-0, 1 KO), of Agua Prieta, México, in a six-round battle of undefeated lightweight contenders.
Hart (11-0, 10 KOs), of Philadelphia, PA , won all six of his 2013 fights by knockout, with only one of those bouts reaching the third round. Trained by his father, the highly-rated middleweight contender of the late ’60s and early ’70s Eugene “Cyclone” Hart, the younger Hart, 24, will be taking on durable veteran Derrick Findley (20-11-1, 13 KOs), of Gary IN. Findley, who scored a second-round TKO of contender Ronald Hearns in 2012, has gone the distance against undefeated contenders Matt Korobov, Gilberto Ramirez and J’Leon Love.