By Mike Bernier
Photos: Chris Farina/Top Rank
Boxing returns to Madison Square Garden on Saturday night with what promises to be an action packed card featuring two young guns in WBO/WBC bantamweight world champion Nonito ‘The Filipino Flash’ Donaire (26-1, 18 KOs) of San Leandro, CA. by way of General Santos City, Philippines and undefeated featherweight prospect Mikey Garcia (26-0, 22 KOs) of Oxnard, CA. The venue of the fight has been closed for renovations since the end of April after the Knicks were swept by the Celtics in the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals. MSG is excited to open the Garden on Saturday for the first event since the renovations have been completed. Ticket sales for the card are going well.
In the main event of the evening, making his American debut, unbeaten WBO super flyweight champ Omar Narvaez (35-0-2, 19 KOs) of Argentina will move up in weight as the challenger for the WBO/WBC bantamweight belt. At Thursday’s press conference, Narvaez said he worked very hard with his team and is excited to show the world his boxing skills against Donaire.
Donaire is also excited to be given the opportunity to fight at MSG and make history. “Narvaez is a tremendous fighter and he’s very experienced,” said Donaire. “He has great heart and knows how to win…I plan on being faster, stronger and smarter than Narvarez on Saturday…I sparred about 100 rounds during this camp with some work coming against super bantamweight Roman Morales (7-0).”
Trainer Robert Garcia said Donaire had great training camp and promised that “The Filipino Flash” will go all out in this fight. “He doesn’t plan on dancing around and is ready to KO Narvaez at the first opportunity he has.”
Donaire said “I plan on weighing 127/128lbs the day of the fight. My dinner on Friday will be my favorite food, lasagna!”
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In the co-feature Mikey Garcia will take on Mexico’s Juan Carlos Martinez (19-12-1). Garcia is a young, hungry, confident fighter who like Donaire, is trained by his brother, former super featherweight champion Robert Garcia. “I’m confident that my team and I did everything that we needed to do to prepare for this fight on October 22nd,” Garcia said. He sparred with WBA lightweight champ Brandon Rios during this camp to help motivate him. Garcia trains at the Robert Garcia Boxing Academy, in Oxnard, CA. “I enjoy it because we have a good time training and we don’t experience any stress.”
When asked what his plans are for the star studded featherweight division Garcia said, “My plan first is to become world champion. If I’m able to accomplish that dream I plan staying in my division and defending my title and hopefully fighting the big names in the division. I’d like to clean out the division. I’d like to fight [Juanma] Lopez and maybe Gamboa if he decides to stay in the division. They don’t hold titles right now, if I’m able to capture a world title before they leave I’ll offer them an opportunity. I want to fight everybody, hold all the belts, keep defending the belts and stay in the division as long as I can.” Garcia said he had a great camp and can’t wait to step into the ring on Saturday night.
Garcia is very excited to be here in NYC for the first time and to have a opportunity to fight at MSG. “It’s a big honor to fight at this venue,” Garcia said. “I want people to come in early to see the undercard fights.” He’s ready for a tough fight but plans on coming away with the win in a speculator fashion for the fans in attendance.
At the start of the “Boxing After Dark” telecast HBO will revisit last weekend’s PPV event with highlights from Dewey Bozella vs. Larry Hopkins, selected rounds from Antonio DeMarco vs. Jorge Linares and the controversial main event, Bernard Hopkins vs. Chad Dawson.
The Theater at MSG
Nonito Donaire vs. Omar Narvaez, 12 rounds, for Donaire’s WBC/WBO bantamweight titles
Miguel Angel “Mikey” Garcia vs. Juan Carlos Martinez, 10 rounds, featherweights
Tommy Rainone vs. Brad Jackson, 6 rounds, welterweights
Jonathan Gonzalez vs. Jose Rivera, 4 rounds, junior bantamweights
Seanie Monaghan vs. Anthony Pietantonio, 6 rounds, light heavyweights
Mike Brooks vs. Eddie Ramirez, 6 rounds, lightweights
Mikael Zewski vs. Keuntray Henson, 6 rounds, welterweights
Cletus Seldin vs. Jose Segura, 4 rounds, welterweights