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Garcia seeks redemption, 2nd title vs. Martinez

November 8, 2013

Although Mikey Garcia has the talent and the pedigree for multi-division stardom, he’s not assuming he’ll be the next 130-pound champion until he actually takes the belt away from Rocky Martinez.

Garcia learned all about assumptions in his last fight, when he lost his featherweight title on the scales.

Garcia (32-0, 27 KOs) goes after a world title in his second weight class Saturday night when he faces Puerto Rico’s Martinez (27-1-2, 16 KOs), who will attempt his third defense against one of boxing’s rising stars.

Not many unbeaten fighters find themselves in need of redemption, but Garcia could use an impressive win. After he trounced Orlando Salido in January to claim a 126-pound title, Garcia couldn’t make weight for his defense against Juan Manuel Lopez in June.

Although he still beat Lopez handily, Garcia couldn’t feel good about it. He’s hoping to bury those regrets under another win.

“I feel very happy to have this opportunity after what happened in the last fight,” Garcia said. “To lose the title on the scale and to be given the opportunity to fight for a world title is great, and I’m really happy for that.”

Garcia will face Martinez after Nonito Donaire’s comeback fight against Vic Darchinyan in the HBO show at the American Bank Center in Corpus Christi, Texas. Demetrius Andrade also takes on Vanes Martirosyan for a vacant 154-pound belt in the first major title shot for two former U.S. Olympic boxers with spotless pro records.

Although the fight is his 130-pound debut, Garcia is favored against Martinez. The Southern California native is trained by his older brother, Robert, one of the sport’s most respected cornermen.

Garcia is imposing, but he doesn’t scare Martinez, the only current champion from Puerto Rico.

“You shouldn’t be a champion if you’re not going to fight the best,” Martinez said.

Martinez has never been knocked down, but Garcia floored Salido and Lopez in his recent fights, demonstrating punching power and technique that give other fighters pause. He also managed to make the junior lightweight limit Friday, coming in at 129.75 pounds.

Donaire (31-2, 20 KOs) hasn’t fought since losing a decision and his junior featherweight title to Guillermo Rigondeaux in April. The one-sided defeat derailed the momentum built by the Filipino-born, Bay Area-raised fighter during an outstanding 2012, so Donaire is looking to reclaim it against a familiar opponent.

“I have been just trying to recall how I became world champion and the process of it,” said Donaire, who had won 30 straight fights. “The mentality and the desire, we are trying to bring all that out. Trying to bring youth back into my boxing style. Trying to change the whole thing, but it starts with the mental part, to be excited.”

Donaire began his rise to stardom six years ago with a stunning left hook, knocking out Darchinyan (39-5-1, 28 KOs) to claim a flyweight belt.

Donaire prepared for a new start by getting shoulder surgery and reuniting with his father, who will be back in his corner after a lengthy estrangement.

The 37-year-old Darchinyan has lost four more times since that defeat, but he’s been advocating for a revenge fight for years.

“I think he was exposed in his loss to Rigondeaux,” Darchinyan said. “He had a good year (in 2012), but inside me, I know he should not be pound-for-pound (champion). I have more skills, and I have more power.”

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