FRISCO, Tx. (FNN SPORTS) – This Saturday night at the Ford Center in Frisco Texas, Mikey Garcia will return to the ring facing yet another dangerous opponent and former two-time World Champion Jesse Vargas (29-2-2, 11 KO’s) for the WBC Diamond belt, a belt made for notoriety and special attraction fights.
A little Boxing History
On February 5,1943, Jake LaMotta (83-19-4, 30 KO’s) upset the then undefeated Middleweight Champion of the World “Sugar” Ray Robinson (175-19-6, 108 KO’s) in a 15-round bout to claim the Middleweight crown. At that point Ray Robinson had been undefeated in 40 fights. On February 26, 1943, just three weeks apart, these two men met again. Robinson bested his now rival LaMotta, regaining the middleweight title. Sound bizarre? Here’s a fun fact: in between those two fights, Ray Robinson fought a 10-round fight and won, fighting three times in the course of four weeks.
Also, to better understand Robinson’s burning will, desire, and gamesmanship, he was a true welterweight at the time of these fights, giving up at least 14 pounds to both men. The fight with LaMotta took place simply because these were the two hottest fighters in boxing at that time, and both men wanted to prove who was the best. Winners always do. Robinson and LaMotta fought five times in one of the most iconic rivalries in boxing history. Robinson nabbed 91 more consecutive wins, setting the longest win streak in boxing history, before he ever tasted defeat again.
Mikey Garcia’s boxing history
For boxing fans, Mikey Garcia (39-1, 30 KOs) needs no introduction. For everyone else, Garcia has been one of the hottest boxers in the sport and is a world class champion that has captured titles in four different weight classes from featherweight to light welterweight. Despite Mikey’s small size, he fights fierce, with great determination, heart, and boxing I.Q. He has all the tools and has fought all the top opposition in his respective weight divisions throughout his career.
On March 16, 2019, Garcia moved up to the primer class in boxing, the welterweight division. Against his manager’s, trainer’s, and family’s best wishes he attempted to collect yet another world title in his 5th weight division, cementing his legacy in boxing history with the likes of only five other fighters to accomplish this feat: Thomas Hearns (61-5-1, 48 KOs), Ray Leonard (36-3-1, 25 KO’s), Oscar De La Hoya (39-6, 30 KO’s), Floyd Mayweather Jr. (50-0, 27 KO’s) and Manny Pacquiao (62-7-2, 39 KO’s). Garcia faced one the hottest fighters in the sport, then 3rd-ranked world class champion Errol Spence Jr. (26-0, 21 KO’s). He was a huge underdog, but much like the fighters of the past, Garcia wanted to prove his greatness. Winners always do.
Unfortunately for Garcia, Spence Jr. proved to be too much for him, beating Mikey up, down, and every which way but loose and handing the fighter his first defeat in a crushing manner, leaving us all questioning what this 32-year old has left to take, or give to the sport of boxing after such a celebrated 14-year career.
Will History Repeat Itself?
This Saturday night, Garcia will fight for the second time in the welterweight division against the advice of his managers, trainers, and family. A win for Vargas gives him the validation he’s been longing for in a career that’s been very good, but not great, placing him on a path to better position himself for significant fights in the future. At the age of 32, Garcia still wants to compete at a high level, because that’s what winners do. A convincing win Saturday night can help reinsert Garcia into the boxing limelight and at least put his name back on the table against some of top world class talent in this division.
Antonio Campana is a Florida National News sports contributor. | email@example.com