Garcia to leave Mayweather's corner

September, 18, 2014
Sep 18
Rafael Garcia is no longer in charge of taping Floyd Mayweather Jr.'s fists and being his cutman, something he has done since 2001. The main reason: It's time to retire at 85 years of age.

Garcia's name is among those mentioned in possible changes that Mayweather will make to his team along with Maayweather Promotions CEO Leonard Ellerbe. Garcia did not wrap Mayweather's hands during Saturday's rematch against Marcos Maidana.

And Garcia said that before Mayweather notifies him regarding his future, he has already thanked him.

"Yes, it's true I didn't tape him, but he hasn't fired me," Garcia told "I thanked him after the fight because I retired from boxing, but I'm fine with him. Thanks to him I live how I live.

Garcia didn't find out that he had been relieved of his duties on Saturday until the last minute.

"Floyd told me to go with Mickey Bey for his fight against Miguel Vazquez," Garcia said. "When I came back they were already taping him. I didn't oppose to it, he's the one fighting, not me, and before they push me aside, I leave and thank him for everything."

With over 50 years in boxing and having worked with stars such as Lupe Pintor, Rafael "Bazooka" Limon, Alexis Arguello, Roberto Duran, Wilfredo Gomez and many more, Garcia will always have a special place for Mayweather.

"I know he went to Miami on vacation, when he comes back I'll talk to him and I will thank him [and] tell him it's been a pleasure to be with him," Garcia said. "But now I'm leaving.

"Maybe I'll go to the gym and watch him and the others, but I'm all grown up, I want to enjoy life."

Garcia would not comment whether he was upset at Bob Ware for wrapping Mayweather's hands before the Maidana rematch. He also said he wouldn't be surprised if unofficial camp member Alex Ariza continued working with Mayweather for other fights as a strength and conditioning coach.

He also declined to comment about Ellerbe, with whom he has a good relationship. Garcia said those are things that Mayweather and Ellerbe have to take care of and that getting involved in that issue would bring bad memories of the experiences he has had with both over the years.

Floyd Mayweather Jr.'s still got it

September, 14, 2014
Sep 14
videoLAS VEGAS -- It was an intense yet very different 12 rounds of action between pound-for-pound king Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Marcos Maidana in Saturday’s rematch at the MGM Grand Garden Arena.

But after Mayweather (47-0, 26 KOs) defended his welterweight and junior middleweight titles via unanimous decision to remain unbeaten, here are five things that we learned from the rematch:

1. Mayweather stuck to his strengths

After how close their first fight was in May, as Mayweather stood and traded with Maidana before making adjustments and hanging on by a slim margin, we figured Mayweather would go back to the basics and use his legs to create separation.

We were right.

Mayweather largely avoided confrontations and spent the whole night backpedaling and circling away from Maidana’s advancements. But that doesn’t mean Mayweather wasn’t brilliant in his execution.

Outside of a few dangerous situations early on, Mayweather stuck to the basics of hit and not be hit, never allowing himself to get pinned for too long against the ropes or in the corner. Mayweather sought preservation over retaliation and by doing so showcased the clear gap in ability between the two fighters.

2 Floyd had some help too

It was easy to predict that the change in referees from Tony Weeks in the first fight to veteran Kenny Bayless would have an impact on the rematch. And boy did it.

Weeks’ liberal stance on dirty tactics from both fighters in the first meeting clearly favored Maidana’s strategy and gave him a distinct advantage. In the rematch, Bayless’ conservative handling of clinches did exactly the opposite, and Mayweather was the beneficiary.

The fight was still plenty dirty, with Mayweather claiming he was bit on the left hand in Round 8 and Maidana losing a point in Round 10 for shoving Mayweather to the canvas. But the quickness with which Bayless separated the two fighters at even the first sign of a clinch had a major impact on how the fight played out. As did the blind eye he appeared to turn by failing to police -- or even warn -- Mayweather for his constant holding.

3. ‘Money’ was all business

Gone was Mayweather’s elaborate ring entrance from their first fight in May. There weren’t any dollar bills with Mayweather’s face on them falling from the sky or celebrity rappers performing by his side during the ring walk. We didn’t even see Justin Bieber.

Instead, Mayweather entered the ring with a stoic look and his head down. With two fights left on his lucrative Showtime/CBS deal and the potential of retiring undefeated, there was little room for error. Even though Mayweather helped build up the fight’s promotion by talking about wanting to stop Maidana in recent weeks, his mentality turned to that of surviving and advancing when he entered the ring.

Considering the dangerous and unpredictable nature of Maidana, it was a mindset he needed to have. But credit Mayweather for blocking out the many distractions that have followed him in recent months and removing any lingering doubt created by the first fight.

4. Mayweather showed his age in subtle ways

Checking the pulse of social media after the fight, it was clear Saturday’s rematch was deemed a disappointment by many looking for a repeat of the drama and uncertain ending from the first fight.

Mayweather took home a much wider decision in a fight mostly void of two-way exchanges. But that doesn’t mean the second fight lacked for intensity to those watching from ringside.

A case could be made that Mayweather, who largely avoided getting hit cleanly to head and face in the first fight, had to work much harder in the rematch, finding himself in specific situations that were much more dangerous and compromising.

Maidana landed a flush left hand at the bell in Round 3 that clearly appeared to hurt Mayweather. Maidana followed it up with a brilliant Round 4 in which he routinely backed Mayweather up to the ropes and landed clean and heavy shots from close range.

Although Maidana was never able to quite duplicate that level of success later in the fight, he created a real sense at times that Mayweather was one clean punch away from real trouble. It’s a feeling that is foreign to most fans of Mayweather fights and one that didn’t show up as much in their first fight despite the close nature of the scorecards.

Mayweather may have proved Saturday that, at 37, he’s still got it. In fact, he connected an astounding 51 percent of his punches overall and 58 percent of his power shots. But he appeared legitimately vulnerable to Maidana’s pressure and rarely put forth a posture that screamed of poise and control.

Clearly we hold Mayweather to a different standard than others due to his greatness. But there were times he appeared to be surviving as much as he was thriving in the later rounds.

5. Floyd is (somewhat) open to a Pacquiao fight

It was sure nice to hear Mayweather handle questions about a fight against Manny Pacquiao without instantly shooting the idea down. But does this mean the fight actually happens in 2015? Based on the history between the two (not to mention the ongoing beef between Al Haymon and Top Rank’s Bob Arum), I wouldn’t be so sure.

But Mayweather didn’t dodge Pacquiao’s name when asked by Showtime’s Jim Gray after the fight, saying, “If the Pacquiao fight presents itself, let’s make it happen.” Moments later, when asked the same question by ESPN’s Bernardo Osuna, Mayweather said the fight would have to take place on Showtime PPV.

Later in the evening at the news conference when asked again, Mayweather said, “You can keep asking the same questions, and you can keep getting the same answers.”

So the results are somewhat inconclusive. But if the pay-per-view numbers from Saturday’s fight come back lower than expected for the third time in four fights since Mayweather signed the exclusive deal with Showtime, the hurdles that would need to be cleared to make the Pacquiao fight could have a better chance of actually happening.

A lot more red tape would need to be sorted out than even mentioned above, and considering the proven stubbornness of the parties in question, it’s hard to gain too much confidence. But it would appear we are a heck of a lot closer than we were in the recent past.

Sorting out controversy entering Mayhem

September, 10, 2014
Sep 10
Considering the controversies that happened during the first fight between Marcos Maidana and Floyd Mayweather Jr. in May, which ones should we keep in mind when they step inside the ring to face each other for the second time on Saturday in Las Vegas?

There are some people who believe that the worst storyline from the first fight was the judges’ scorecards. The opinions are split: some think Mayweather won easily at least eight out of the 12 rounds, while others take Maidana's side, claiming that the Argentinian should have pulled the upset (or at least, received a draw).

Controversy No. 2 for this fight involves the gloves. This controversy might be well remembered by the fans, since Maidana and his team have brought it up over and over again during the media tour.

Hours before the first fight back in May, Mayweather threatened not to step inside the ring if Maidana refused to switch gloves. Originally, the Argentinian wanted to use a pair of custom Everlast MX gloves, but Mayweather protested, arguing that the gloves were a threat to his health. In the end, the managers made a deal, and Maidana wore a pair of regular Everlast gloves. For Saturday's fight, it appears Maidana will wear the Everlast Powerlock gloves.

Or maybe, people should have a close look at controversy No. 3: Maidana's dirty tactics. In May, he had an aggressive approach, going after Mayweather head-first, throwing elbows and even trying to hit him with his knee.

All three controversies were factors that weighed on Mayweather's decision to give an immediate rematch to Maidana. On Saturday, both fighters will try to settle the score, only this time without any controversy.

Mayweather-Maidana by the numbers

September, 10, 2014
Sep 10

This Saturday, Floyd Mayweather Jr. will once again step in the ring with Marcos Maidana at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas. Mayweather won the first fight in May by unanimous decision, but many felt Maidana came the closest anyone has to becoming the first fighter to defeat Mayweather. He will try once again, while Mayweather looks to move to 47-0 and one step closer to retiring undefeated. Here are the numbers you need to know for Saturday’s fight:

2: This is the second rematch Floyd Mayweather has given in his illustrious career. After a controversial unanimous decision win in 2002 against Jose Luis Castillo, Mayweather defended his newly won WBC lightweight title almost eight months later in a rematch. Mayweather outlanded Castillo 162-137 en route to another unanimous decision victory.

221: Punches Maidana landed on Mayweather, the most of any Mayweather opponent in 37 tracked CompuBox fights. Maidana used an aggressive approach in the first six rounds of the fight. He attempted 78.5 punches per round and outlanded Mayweather 125-98 (110 power punches). The only other fighter to land more than 200 punches against Mayweather was Castillo in their first fight (203).

114: According to ESPN Stats & Information tracking, 114 of Maidana’s 221 punches were landed with Mayweather against the ropes (51 percent).

3: The fight in May marked the third time in Mayweather’s 46-fight career that he won by majority or split decision. Although some might argue the first Castillo decision, Mayweather’s only win by split decision came when he defeated Oscar De La Hoya in 2007. More recently, the Maidana fight and the previous bout against Canelo Alvarez were both victories by majority decision for the undefeated champion.

25: The plus/minus rating for Mayweather, the highest among active fighters. Plus/minus rating is determined by subtracting an opponent's connect percentage from a listed fighter's overall connect percentage. In his past three fights, Mayweather has plus/minus ratings of plus-28 (Maidana), plus-24 (Alvarez) and plus-22 (Robert Guerrero). Second on the plus/minus list is Erislandy Lara at plus-17.

54: Mayweather's connect percentage against Maidana. Mayweather was the less active fighter of the two, but he was by far the more effective. Mayweather landed between 50 and 59 percent in six of 12 rounds, 60 and 69 percent twice, and 14 of 20 punches in Round 4 for a 70 percent clip. Maidana's highest connect percentage in any round was 30 percent in the eighth round.

15: Million dollars gained from the live gate in the first Mayweather-Maidana fight, the third most in MGM Grand history. Mayweather has said MGM Grand is the place where "Money gets money," and that's proven in live gate sales. Mayweather has the three largest gates in MGM Grand boxing history, according to the Nevada State Athletic Commission, and has garnered $20 million from the Alvarez fight and $18.4 million from the De La Hoya fight.

12: The money helps Mayweather stay in Vegas, but the MGM Grand is also home to 12 Mayweather victories. Mayweather won at MGM Grand for the first time in 2000 against Gregorio Vargas and has defeated legends such as Castillo, De La Hoya, Ricky Hatton, Juan Manuel Marquez and Miguel Cotto. MGM Grand has hosted every Mayweather fight since 2007.

85: According to Westgate Las Vegas Superbook, Mayweather is an 8-1 favorite (minus-800), which gives him an 85 percent chance to win the rematch. In the previous bout, Mayweather was given an 87 percent chance to win the fight, with closing odds of minus-950 to Maidana’s plus-625 (13 percent to win).

5: Kenny Bayless will be the referee for Mayweather-Maidana, which marks the fifth time he has been in the ring as the referee for a Mayweather fight. Bayless was the referee for Mayweather's victories against Alvarez, Shane Mosley and De La Hoya and for Mayweather's pro debut against Roberto Apodaca.

3: Three of Mayweather's four titles will be on the line when he defends the WBA and WBC welterweight titles as well as the WBC junior middleweight title. The most recent time titles from multiple divisions were on the line in a fight was 1988, when Sugar Ray Leonard fought Donny Lalonde for belts in the super middleweight and light heavyweight divisions.

--Statistical support provided by CompuBox

Box Fan Expo good for boxing fans

September, 1, 2014
Sep 1
Mike Tyson Joe Klamar/AFP/Getty ImagesThe Box Fan Expo will give fans the chance to meet some of their favorite fighters.
In a sport as disorganized and politically controlled as boxing, it’s not uncommon to see the sport’s two most important entities -- the fighters and the fans -- get the short end of the stick.

Alonzo Benezra wants to see that change.

“It’s about the fighters and it’s about the fans,” said Benezra, the creator and organizer of the first annual Box Fan Expo. “That’s the primary things. All the rest is secondary.”

Modeled after a similar annual event put on by the UFC, the first Box Fan Expo will take place on Saturday, Sept. 13, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. PT at the Las Vegas Convention Center on the same day as Floyd Mayweather Jr.’s rematch against Marcos Maidana at the MGM Grand Arena (9 p.m. ET, Showtime PPV).

“It’s going to be quite an experience for the boxing industry, as well as the fans who deserve this and need this,” Benezra said. “Finally they get a chance to meet their boxing heroes and it’s a chance for the promoters to tap into the fans that never get to see the fighters face to face. We want the fighters to make money and brand whichever product they want to brand.”

Fans can expect to get a chance to meet some of boxing’s most popular names, past and present, including fighters, trainers, promoters and broadcasters. Some of the confirmed names include Mike Tyson, Roy Jones Jr., Riddick Bowe, Juan Manuel Marquez, Sergio Martinez, Robert Guerrero and Brandon Rios, with more constantly being added.

After watching the success of the UFC Fan Expo, Benezra had a vision of a similar event for boxing.

“When you watch the UFC, you see that they are branding their company so well and have really set the mark,” Benezra said. “I want to salute them as they are showing us how to do this.”

Benezra, however, was quick to point out an obvious hurdle between the potential success of his event and that of the UFC -- organization. Yet, despite the clear advantages of the UFC’s linear structure -- with all entities ultimately falling under one flag -- Benezra sees his event helping boxing get closer to a similar vision.

“Boxing is so fragmented, but because of that, it’s a chance to take all these fragmented pieces and come together under one roof and show the world we can come together when it’s for the fans,” Benezra said. “This event was only built for the fans. But it also gives the boxing industry an opportunity to network in between for those who haven’t had the chance to connect.

“I’m sure there are going to be deals made at the expo and we welcome every single angle. We just wanted to create a platform for the fighters to have a chance to promote themselves.”

Getting boxing’s biggest rivals, from a promotional sense, to come together under one roof would surely be a rare occurrence for the sport. But it’s all part of Benezra’s long-term vision for the event, which would annually take place on the weekend of the sport’s biggest fight.

The way Benezra sees it, boxing’s hard-core fan base will always be there to support the sport through thick and thin. But for the sport to truly cultivate new fans, there needs to be harmony, with its biggest players coming together to put the fans first.

“The message that I want to send to the boxing industry and to the top promoters is that they should support Box Fan Expo 100 percent because, in return, it will come back to them,” Benezra said. “Imagine if they have all of their fighters coming together under one roof. This is going to be the most powerful event of the year because you are having all of these fans and all of these countries and top celebrities together. How can anyone compete?”

Tickets for the event are $30 in advance online and $40 at the gate. Fans can visit the Box Fan Expo website for more information.

Broner needs to prove he's an elite fighter

August, 27, 2014
Aug 27

Searching for the truth has always been difficult when taking stock of former three-division titlist Adrien Broner.

As boxing’s undeniable clown prince, Broner is a rare fighter who sits on the fragile nest egg of holding real potential to become the sport’s biggest draw. But it’s never easy separating the fighter from the sideshow that comes with him, creating polarizing responses as to whether he’s really good enough to ever get there.

It’s clear that Broner (28-1, 22 KOs) is no longer the same monster he was at 135 pounds and below, able to overpower opponents by standing directly in front of them and breaking them down with menacing countershots.

But does that mean he’s necessarily as overrated and incapable of adjusting as he appeared to be while losing his welterweight title to Marcos Maidana in December?

That’s the question that will continue to follow Broner until he steps up and quiets the doubt by defeating a top-ranked opponent. Now competing at junior welterweight, he likely won’t have that opportunity Sept. 6 when he faces Emmanuel Taylor in Broner’s backyard of Cincinnati.

Adrien BronerEvery time I fought at home, I gave my fans a knockout. I spoiled my fan base in Cincinnati. So every time I fight here, that's what they want. I have to give them a knockout. I got to. And it's got to be pretty too.

-- Adrien Broner
Although Taylor (18-2, 12 KOs), 23, is a respected boxer, he isn’t in the same class as the division’s leading men of Danny Garcia, Lamont Peterson and Lucas Matthysse, with the latter joining Broner as co-headliners of the card in separate bouts.

Still, if Taylor is unable to outright answer the questions following Broner, he should be able to at least further the conversation by testing Broner’s commitment to the sport.

“Every time I fought at home, I gave my fans a knockout,” Broner said. “I spoiled my fan base in Cincinnati. So every time I fight here, that's what they want.

”I have to give them a knockout. I got to. And it's got to be pretty too. I think I'm going to hit him with the 30 piece and the biscuit.”

Although Broner said the right things in the aftermath of his humbling loss to Maidana, his next fight against Carlos Molina in May saw a return to both his tired in-ring antics and a one-dimensional style.

Broner not only failed to re-establish himself as a power puncher after dropping down in weight, but he was also hit repeatedly by a heavy underdog who lacked the power to make him pay. Just like in his loss to Maidana, Broner was far too stationary and repeatedly caught with his hands down by looping right hands, making for an unimpressive showcase victory.

Taylor has been keeping close tabs.

"I saw his fight against Maidana, and I saw a lot of weaknesses there. But that's not the only way he can be beaten,” Taylor said. “I definitely can take advantages of his weaknesses, but I have some other plans for fighting this guy.”

The good news for Broner is that he’s still so young, having turned 25 in July. The trash talk has returned in the buildup to the fight with Taylor, although a lot of that plays into his persona as a spoiled, flamboyant star who draws as many fans hoping to see him lose as simply see him.

It’s a marketing strategy that has done wonders for Broner’s “big bro” Floyd Mayweather Jr., who has the goods in the ring to back everything up. Broner simply isn’t that same level of fighter. But then again, who is?

In some ways, the loss to Maidana removed Broner from the pressures that come with living in Mayweather’s shadow, allowing him to start fresh and become the best Adrien Broner he’s capable of.

Step 2 of that journey begins Sept. 6 against Taylor where, regardless of the reasons why we watch, Broner remains a lightning rod who forces us to tune in. Yet, only “The Problem” can answer whether his nickname is a greater reflection on the issues he provides for his opponents or to himself.

Best fights to make at welterweight

August, 19, 2014
Aug 19

There was a certain refreshing nature to the way England’s Kell Brook soundly defeated Shawn Porter on Saturday to capture his welterweight title.

It wasn’t just the convincing nature of Brook’s performance or the fact that his victory announced -- somewhat unexpectedly -- a new player at 147 pounds in boxing’s undisputed glamour division.

The victory by Brook, 28, was extra sweet because it came within the grounds of a disturbingly rare meeting between unbeaten titlist and unbeaten challenger.

Brook (33-0, 22 KOs), who saw his shot against then-titleholder Devon Alexander fall apart three times due to injuries sustained to both fighters in the past two years, was able to challenge for the belt held by Porter (24-1-1, 15 KOs) because he was the mandatory. Without that distinction, it’s fair to question whether Brook would have had that chance in this spot.

After an almost dream-like 2013 for boxing, the first eight months of 2014 has seen the sport devolve back into a state of slow-play matchmaking and promoters not working together. Outside of an unforeseen surprise like Bernard Hopkins-Sergey Kovalev, fights like Porter-Brook have been few and far between in a year dominated by high-profile mismatches and too many pay-per-views.

Brook’s victory over Porter, however, reminded us of how important it is to get the kind of fights whose sole purpose are to give us answers regarding which fighter is truly for real.

With that thought in mind, here are the top five fights that can realistically be made in the welterweight division. Forget the idea of a Floyd Mayweather Jr.-Manny Pacquiao bout or anything else directly blocked by network exclusive deals or promoters and advisers who don’t play nicely. If those restrictions weren’t already painfully in place, one could quickly concoct 10 matchups better than any you will see below.

But these are the five best matchups at 147 pounds that not only could happen in the next 12 months but really should. So let the involuntary shadowboxing begin:

5. Kell Brook-Keith Thurman

While an all-England showdown between Brook and Amir Khan would be a major superfight across the pond, this pairing would do a better job definitively answering which fighter truly is “next” in the welterweight division. Both fighters are unbeaten, poised and well-rounded. Where do I sign up?

4. Ruslan Provodnikov-Brandon Rios

There’s certainly a bit of guilty pleasure associated with this fight between the two most unapologetically fearsome brawlers in the game. Yes, there would be blood. This would be one of those fights that you would tell three friends to tell three friends to tune in for. Violence and dramatic entertainment wouldn’t just be a hopeful expectation in this case but a guarantee.

3. Danny Garcia-Amir Khan II

Garcia, the unbeaten recognized champion at 140 pounds, has plenty of big fight possibilities in front of him at junior welterweight against the likes of Lamont Peterson, Adrien Broner and a possible rematch with Lucas Matthysse. But with the weight cut becoming increasingly harder for him, a move up to welterweight is inevitable. What better way to make a debut than in a high-profile rematch against the exciting and vulnerable Khan, who had plenty of success in the early parts of their first meeting before eating a flush left hook from Garcia that he never recovered from.

2. Floyd Mayweather Jr.-Keith Thurman

The obvious reactions regarding whether Thurman is ready for a fight of this nature or if his résumé deserves it quickly fade when you look at Mayweather’s current pool of prospective opponents within the division. We know we aren’t going to see “Money” against the likes of Pacquiao or Timothy Bradley Jr., so when you factor in Thurman’s game-changing power, balanced skill and bustling personality, the unbeaten interim titlist’s unanswered questions only add to the prospective intrigue of the fight. While you are much more likely to see Mayweather, should he defeat Marcos Maidana in their Sept. 13 rematch, in lower-risk/higher-reward fights, a showdown with Thurman is not only easy to make but also the most interesting for Floyd on paper at 147.

1. Manny Pacquiao vs. Juan Manuel Marquez V

I don’t want to hear about customer fatigue or the fact that the two fighters would be a combined age of 77 by the time this fight would be makeable again in 2015. This pairing, between top-five pound-for-pound fighters, still means something. Not only would the victor have a legitimate claim to having won this generation’s greatest rivalry, but all four fights have been dramatic, action classics. In fact, their most recent bout -- Marquez’s vicious one-punch knockout of Pacquiao in December 2012 -- was the best fight the sport has produced since Diego Corrales-Jose Luis Castillo I in 2005. This fight doesn’t just make sense because, thanks to boxing politics, both fighters are without a better or more lucrative opponent in waiting. It’s the best fight you could currently make in the division because it involves two all-time great fighters who bring out the best in each other like no one else can.

Things we learned on Saturday

August, 17, 2014
Aug 17

For a split second, Kell Brook must have felt like he was in the ring with Sakio Bika. Moments after his majority decision over Shawn Porter was announced, his promoter, Eddie Hearn, wrapped him in a joyous embrace as both rolled around on the canvas. But Brook survived his post-fight spill and will return to England a conquering hero, a nick over his left eye the only visible sign he’d been in a fight.

The Brook-Porter bout capped a long evening at the StubHub Center that also featured Anthony Dirrell’s ugly decision over Bika and Omar Figueroa's sizzling TKO of Daniel Estrada. Brook’s win was the most significant, Figueroa’s shootout with Estrada the most exciting and Dirrell’s MMA-style rumble with Bika the one we’d like to forget. Each bout told us something about the combatants. Let’s see if we can figure out what.

1.Brook is almost ready: Brook is now a player in the talent-rich welterweight division, and seems eager to take on all comers. A match with Keith Thurman would be excellent, but Kell is not yet ready for the likes of Floyd Mayweather Jr., Manny Pacquiao or Juan Manuel Marquez.

The logical next step would be a bout with fellow Brit Amir Khan, which would surely be a box-office bonanza in the U.K. Khan, of course, is still hoping for a fight with Mayweather, and has also expressed an interest in taking on Pacquiao. But it doesn’t seem that either of those are going to happen anytime soon, and Brook is clearly his best alternative.

2. Porter enthusiasm wasn't enough: Porter was as hyper as a kid who had overdosed on Halloween candy, while Brook was cool, composed and focused, just like an unflappable Englishman is supposed to be. His savvy movement, spearing jab, straight-as-an-arrow rights and judicious clinching blunted Porter’s flailing attacks. And although he never stopped trying, Porter’s enthusiasm and one-dimensional approach just weren’t enough. Maybe he’ll learn from his first defeat, but don’t count on it.

3. Porter is not special: We have at tendency to jump to conclusions and prematurely anoint a fighter as the next big thing, which is what happened with Porter, a likeable jumping bean of a slugger with a big smile and an aggressive attitude. His victories over Paulie Malignaggi and Devon Alexander -- a faded veteran and a reluctant dragon -- fooled a lot of people into thinking he was something special. But after the thumping he took from Brook, we know better. But that doesn’t mean we won’t make the same mistake again the next time a young fighter comes along and scores a couple of good wins. We believe because we want to believe.

[+] EnlargeAnthony Dirrell
AP Photo/Chris CarlsonAnthony Dirrell won a super middleweight title by outslugging Sakio Bika.
4. Who knew Dirrell could fight dirty? That’s exactly what he did in his rematch with notorious brawler Bika. In their first bout, the slick-boxing Dirrell allowed “The Scorpion” to bully him just enough for the Australian tough guy to hold onto his super middleweight belt with a draw. But this time Dirrell almost matched Bika foul-for-foul in a rough and tumble affair, winning a unanimous decision in a fight that had harried referee Jack Reiss running around like the Mad Hatter.

5. Omar Figueroa is fun to watch, but for how long? It wasn’t quite as sensational as Figueroa’s amazing decision over Nihito Arakawa in July 2013, but the way the Texas lightweight produced a thunderous right hand in the ninth round that ended Daniel Estrada’s brave bid to take the title was reminiscent of some of Arturo Gatti’s spectacular finishes. Figueroa’s dramatic victory underlined his status as a must-see fighter, but how long he can keep winning vicious slugging matches remains to be seen. Let’s appreciate him while we can.

Things we learned on Saturday

August, 10, 2014
Aug 10
Danny Garcia, Rod SalkaEd Mulholland/Getty ImagesUnbeaten Danny Garcia made quick work of Rod Salka in a brutal second-round knockout on Saturday.
NEW YORK -- After a tripleheader of action at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, here are five things we learned about victories from Danny Garcia, Lamont Peterson and Danny Jacobs on Saturday night.

1. Absolutely nothing

In one of the most one-sided premium cable fight cards on paper in recent history, the favorites dominated in a way that validated the overwhelming negative response from fans the day the fights were announced.

Stay-busy or showcase fights involving big names are fine when packaged with compelling content. But Saturday’s card, headlined by junior welterweight titlists Garcia and Peterson in separate bouts, failed to answer any questions boxing fans had coming in, including the most important one: What's the point of seeing Garcia and Peterson in a pair of noncompetitive fights when they should have been facing each other?

2. Danny Garcia was right

Garcia, the recognized champion at 140 pounds, admitted during fight week he was in a no-win situation against such a heavy underdog in unranked lightweight Rod Salka.

He was right.

Not only did the unheralded Salka enter the ring with just three knockouts in 22 pro fights, he was as a 50-1 underdog for a fight so ill matched that even the much-maligned sanctioning bodies refused to clear it as a title fight. To make matters worse, the fight was Garcia's second straight of the showcase variety; he struggled to a debated majority-decision win over Mauricio Herrera in March.

If Garcia, who took home a purse of $700,000, had looked bad in any way against Salka, his critics would have had a field day. Instead, the opposite took place in the ring. Only the criticism still came immediately after on social media. And it was justified.

Garcia demolished the smaller, light-hitting Salka to the tune of three knockdowns in a second-round knockout win. The final knockdown was the most brutal of all, as Salka trainer Paul Spadafora tried unsuccessfully to get the referee's attention in order to stop the bout just before Garcia followed through on a flush left hook that violently ended the bout.

It's a highlight-reel knockout that exhilarated the crowd of 7,012 and will likely run in sizzle reels previewing Garcia's fights for years to come. But it came against an opponent clearly not fit to face a fighter the class of Garcia, who sits on the outskirts of most pound-for-pound lists. Garcia pounded his chest to the crowd after the fight and provided quotes like, "No matter who I fought tonight, they were going to get beat. I was going to purge. I was out for the kill." But this was a fight that ultimately did nothing for the unbeaten champion, or the sport.

3. Don't hold your breath on a payoff

Even though the card was set up as a possible preview toward a future title unification bout between Garcia and Peterson, a major criticism leading up to Saturday was that it wasn't a matchup that deserved this level of marinating.

Even though Peterson is a titlist and a skilled fighter with a flair for action, he was knocked out in a 2013 nontitle bout against Lucas Matthysse, the man whom Garcia defeated four months later. While getting the payoff of a Garcia-Peterson fight later this year could help ease the lingering discomfort caused by the card, the noncommittal comments from both fighters in the aftermath of their victories was far from reassuring.

Both Peterson, who defended his title by stopping Edgar Santana in Round 10, and Garcia said during fight week they would have preferred facing each other this weekend. But both fighters are at the mercy of the man who holds all of the cards, powerful advisor Al Haymon. And while 2013 was a great year for fans getting a chance to see big-name Haymon fighters in the ring against each other, 2014 hasn't been so kind, making a Garcia-Peterson fight far from a guarantee.

4. Good things do happen to good people

Middleweight Danny Jacobs is simply one of the nicest people in and around the sport of boxing. Coming back so heroically from a 2012 battle with osteosarcoma (a rare form of bone cancer) that nearly killed him, Jacobs' story has become an inspiration to many.

It's hard not to cheer for a guy so humble and passionate, and one you almost never see without a smile on his face. Jacobs, who floored and nearly finished Jarrod Fletcher in the opening round on Saturday, rebounded from a poor start in Round 5 to rally and stop him moments later, becoming the first cancer survivor in boxing history to win a world title.

Appropriately nicknamed "The Miracle Man," Jacobs addressed his hometown fans by saying, "The journey is a long one but I am blessed to have had the opportunity to perform in front of Brooklyn. We did it."

In a sport often overrun by negative headlines, this was a great story. And it couldn't have happened to a more deserving guy.

5. But let's not get too carried away

Jacobs' storybook victory is more than deserving of praise. But the full story, however, does need to be told.

Jacobs is not the middleweight champion of the world, despite what a ring announcer or fight poster might tell you. In fact, he's not even one of the four fully accredited titlists recognized by the major sanctioning bodies. With the WBA's insistence on creating as many as three titles per division, Jacobs captured its vacant "regular" title.

It's a belt not to be confused with the real WBA title owned by unbeaten Gennady Golovkin, or the WBA interim belt held by Dmitry Chudinov. Sound confused? You should be. The premise behind it is absurd. And even though Jacobs appears to have a bright future, which could include a showdown with unbeaten WBO titlist Peter Quillin, whom Jacobs called out after Saturday's victory, his new "world title" is merely a secondary one for now.

Nelson squares off with Grajeda on FNF

August, 7, 2014
Aug 7
Exciting junior middleweight Willie Nelson makes his return to ESPN's "Friday Night Fights" when he headlines a card from Fallon, Nevada.

Nelson (22-1-1, 13 KOs) will face Mexico's Luis Grajeda (17-2-2, 13 KOs) in a 10-round bout (ESPN2, 9 p.m. ET) at the Churchill County Fairgrounds.

Out of action for nearly a year because of left elbow surgery, Nelson, of Cleveland, Ohio, returned in June on the Miguel Cotto-Sergio Martinez undercard at Madison Square Garden in New York to drill Darryl Cunningham in the first round.

The victory over Cunningham was Nelson's sixth straight dating back to the lone loss of his career, in 2011 by majority decision against Vincent Arroyo. Nelson rebounded from that loss to score victories over name fighters such as Cuba's Yudel Johnson, John Jackson, Michael Medina and Luciano Cuello of Argentina.

"Willie [Nelson] is knocking on the door to a world title opportunity and an impressive performance against the hard-punching Grajeda moves him in that direction," promoter Lou DiBella said.

With a victory on Friday, a title fight could be in Nelson's future in the second half of 2014.

Nelson was forced to pull out of a December HBO date against Matthew Macklin due to his injured elbow. He also missed an opportunity to face James Kirkland.

Grajeda represents a hard-hitting and dangerous opponent for Nelson. Grajeda has good size and wingspan and has never been down in his career despite two defeats, including a 2010 loss to unbeaten Jermell Charlo.

He usually sets the distance with his jab and fights behind a high guard. While attacking, Grajeda looks to exploit his long wingspan and launch combinations with long hooks.

But if Grajeda has good height and wingspan for the division, Nelson surpasses him in both areas. At 6-foot-3 with a wingspan of 81 inches, Nelson gives off comparisons to Paul Williams for his size and fighting style as a junior middleweight.

Nelson's style of constant pressure makes the most of natural advantages by constantly using jabs and overhand rights from a distance. But when he enters close range, he often doubles up his hooks with both hands. Nelson has power, but he sometimes gets in trouble when quicker opponents close the distance.

In the co-feature battle, unbeaten Hungarian super middleweight Norbert Nemesapati (14-0, 13 KOs), 18, makes his U.S. debut against dangerous puncher Jason Escalera (14-2-1, 12 KOs) of Union City, New Jersey.

The opening bout of the card will showcase the professional debut of touted Chinese heavyweight Zhang Zhilei, an Olympic silver medalist in 2008, who will face American Curtis Lee Tate (7-4, 6 KOs) in a four-round bout.

Things we learned this weekend

August, 3, 2014
Aug 3

After a wild, split-site telecast of boxing Saturday featuring a light heavyweight title bout in Atlantic City and a pair of controversial endings in Las Vegas, here are five things we learned.

1. If you try, sometimes, you get what you need

Boxing hasn’t been kind to fans when it comes to consistently finding competitive match-ups on pay cable in 2014. Light heavyweight titlist Sergey Kovalev’s bout with unbeaten yet unheralded Australian Blake Caparello was, on paper, par for the course. But a stunning announcement the day before the fight drastically changed the bout’s meaning. With a victory guaranteeing “Krusher” a November title unification bout against Bernard Hopkins, Kovalev carried out his end of the bargain at the Revel Resort in Atlantic City, New Jersey, with a second-round TKO of Caparello. Not only does this guarantee an interesting fight no one saw coming, but it also provides fans with an intriguing style matchup for Kovalev when his opponent pool appeared all but dried up. Hopkins, the ageless wonder whose story doesn’t get the credit it deserves on a mainstream level, surely doesn’t need to go out of his way to make a fight against arguably the sport's most dangerous puncher. But his willingness to dare to be great -- while pushing 50 -- is a credit to his truly special makeup and a gift to fight fans.

2. Kovalev aims to please

The reaction of promoter Kathy Duva of Main Events from ringside as her star fighter, Kovalev, fell to the canvas in the opening round on a flash knockdown was priceless. With her hands separated on either side of her face like Macauley Culkin in “Home Alone,” Duva wasn’t alone, considering what the impact of a Kovalev upset loss would have been. But with the super-fight against Hopkins hanging in the balance for a matter of seconds, Kovalev never wavered. The Russian native dusted himself off and stalked his opponent with the same fury that has led him to to a frightening 88 percent knockout rate. One round later, after a vicious trio of knockdowns led referee Sparkle Lee to mercifully save Caparello from any more punishment, Kovalev added another victim to his growing list of exciting finishes. He’s about as honest, inside the ring and out, as fans could hope for and a knockout fighter who truly wants to test himself against the very best. Following the disaster of seeing his 175-pound summit with recognized champion Adonis Stevenson fall apart in such a back-breaking manner, it’s only right that one of boxing’s most exciting fighters -- and the perfect candidate to be avoided -- finds himself on the doorstep of such a major fight.

3. Referee to blame in Rios-Chaves

The bizarre ending in the welterweight bout between Brandon Rios and Diego Chaves at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas ruined what had the potential to be a memorable action bout. With Chaves ahead on two of three scorecards in Round 9, referee Vic Drakulich, who took away a total of three points to both fighters (including two from Chaves) disqualified Chaves at 1:26 after roughhousing from both. The fight opened with enough toe-to-toe action in a rousing first round that caused an instant stir on Twitter, but it came unraveled round by round thanks to a constant stream of fouling as Drakulich simply lost control and was inconsistent in his policing. He set a bad precedent by taking a point away from Chaves after very little warning for holding in Round 3 while ignoring a steady stream of head-first spearing attempts by Rios. He also began to lose his cool and wasn’t clear or consistent in his addressing of the constant violations. But the timing in which he called the fight off and gave the decision to Rios was the most questionable. Both fighters were dirty throughout, but to single out just Chaves instead of both (or, preferably, none at all) when it came to a disqualification didn’t seem justified. By doing so, Drakulich inserted himself into the storyline and overshadowed what could have been a great fight.

4. The jury is still out on Rios

In his first fight since he dropped a near-shutout decision to Manny Pacquiao this past November in Macau, Rios entered his second fight at welterweight in need of snapping a two-fight skid. While he was able to pull out the much-needed win in unusual fashion, Rios failed to fight off fears that his best days are well behind him. Possessing possibly the sport’s best chin, Rios was able to take Chaves’ best shots while continuing to come forward. But in what has become a recurring theme throughout his all-action run in recent years, Rios continues to take far too many clean punches. It’s a result of his exciting style that was less dangerous at 135 pounds. But now, as a welterweight and a veteran of one memorable brawl after another, lingering doubt remains whether Rios has a bright future ahead of him.

5. Judges way off on Vargas-Novikov

Unbeaten Jessie Vargas seems to have a knack for pulling out contentious decisions in his hometown of Las Vegas, and Saturday was no different. One fight after winning a secondary 140-pound title from Khabib Allakhverdiev in a unanimous decision many felt should have gone the other way, Vargas edged Russian southpaw Anton Novikov in similar fashion. The fight, with Vargas getting out to a quick start and Novikov rallying late as Vargas slowly faded, gave the feeling that it could go either way after 12 rounds. But unlike the relatively close decision he got against Allakhverdiev, this time Vargas took home a much wider one against Novikov by scores of 118-111 (twice) and 117-111. The scores, without question, failed to match the reality of what most fans and media on social media saw at home. It has become almost cliché to expect a bad decision in these spots of late, and more often than not our cynicism is rewarded.

Rios: Fight 'is do-or-die for me'

August, 1, 2014
Aug 1
After a stunning loss to Manny Pacquiao in November, Brandon Rios is ready to get back on the horse Saturday against Argentina's Diego Chaves in Las Vegas.

Rios (31-2-1, 23 KOs), a former lightweight titlist who is coming from two tough losses in 2013 --to Pacquiao and Mike Alvarado in March -- faces Chaves (23-1, 19 KOs) at The Cosmopolitan Casino in Las Vegas (HBO, 9:45 p.m. ET).

Looking to be reborn with his longtime trainer Robert Garcia, Rios, 28, feels that this is the right time -- and the right opponent -- to start his comeback.

In his own words, Rios talks about returning to the ring and looking for a much-needed victory.

"When you are on top of the world, there are people who always want to be with you. I didn't really know some of them, but they wanted to be close to me. But when you are at the lowest point in [your] career, no one comes around. No one seems to care.

"This is why my fight against Diego Chaves is do-or-die for me. And I want to make it a 'do' and not the 'die' part.

"I promised Robert [Garcia, chief trainer] I would follow his instructions in the gym and do whatever it takes. I told Robert I want to be the old 'Bam Bam' again.

"I don't need that strength and conditioning stuff. It drained me, actually. I am naturally a strong person, and I won a lot of fights before without it.

"They tell me Chaves is real rough and strong. That he can punch hard. That's OK with me. I want to come back and against a strong, tough fighter.

"The old Bam Bam -- the one who everyone knows -- will be back in the ring on Aug. 2."

Robert Garcia

"After the Pacquiao fight, Brandon got rid of a lot of people. He was quiet and doing family stuff. We traded texts, and that was about it for a long time.

"When Brandon got back to the gym, we went back to old-school training. Rough stuff. Brandon is much more dedicated and, more importantly, is listening to everything I say and executing my instructions.

"Brandon is ready to fight. Bam Bam is back."

Unbeaten Williams faces Campillo on FNF

July, 30, 2014
Jul 30
WilliamsAl Bello/Getty ImagesUnbeaten light heavyweight Thomas Williams Jr. looks to move closer toward a shot at a world title.
Unbeaten light heavyweight Thomas Williams Jr. steps up to face veteran Gabriel Campillo in a 12-round main event headlining ESPN's "Friday Night Fights."

Williams (17-0, 12 KOs), nicknamed "Top Dog," enters the fight from the Little Creek Casino Resort in Shelton, Washington, (ESPN2, 9 p.m. ET) as a highly ranked prospect. Meanwhile, his opponent Campillo (23-6-1, 10 KOs) is a former titlist looking to get back on track after losing three of his last five.

A native of Fort Washington, Maryland, Williams will undoubtedly be the fighter to watch closely considering the great expectations his career has drawn and his position in the rankings of three major sanctioning bodies. At 26, Williams enters the bout coming off two spectacular performances in 2014.

On Jan. 24, he got up off the canvas in the first round to finish Cornelius White before the round ended. In his most recent bout on April 24, he stopped Enrique Ornelas in the third round.

Campillo, 35, a native of Spain, who is managed by former world middleweight champion Sergio Martinez, held a light heavyweight title from 2009 until losing it the following year by split decision in his rematch with Beibut Shumenov. He lost another controversial title bout by split decision against then-titlist Tavoris Cloud in 2012.

In 2013, Campillo suffered a pair of stoppage losses to future titlist Sergey Kovalev and Andrzej Fonfara. He bounced back in May with a stoppage win against Ricky Dennis Pow in Spain.

The co-main event offers a second pairing of southpaws as former world title challenger Andre Dirrell (21-1, 14 KOs) returns to action after 18 months in a 10-round super middleweight bout against Vladine Biosse (15-4-2, 7 KOs).

Dirrell, 30, hasn't fought since a unanimous-decision win over Michael Gbenga in February 2013 in Texas. He is best remembered for his participation in the Super Six super middleweight tournament, where he suffered his lone career defeat at the hands of Carl Froch by split decision in 2009.

Biosse, 32, a former football player from the University of Rhode Island, enters the bout fresh off a pair of defeats. He lost to Britain's Callum Smith in Liverpool, England, on July 12 after a February defeat against J'Leon Love.

Things we learned from Golovkin-Geale

July, 27, 2014
Jul 27

NEW YORK -- After another thrilling middleweight title defense for unbeaten Gennady Golovkin ends in -- what else? -- another devastating knockout, here are five things we learned from his triumph over Daniel Geale on Saturday night at Madison Square Garden.

1. Golovkin is everything we thought he was (and more)

The only conceivable knock against Golovkin throughout his devastating run of 10 straight title defenses and 16 consecutive knockouts entering Saturday’s bout was a lack of proof he could do the same thing against elite competition.

Enter former titlist Geale of Australia, a volume puncher with a backbone who, along with being awkward, has showed a history of versatility as both a boxer and puncher.

Golovkin (30-0, 27 KOs) didn’t just answer the questions his few remaining critics had about him, he punched a hole in them the same way he did to Geale in a pulverizing third-round TKO.

Few of Golovkin’s fights have failed to entertain or provide at least one shake-your-head moment of surprise. His finish of Geale fit that category completely as Golovkin ate his opponent’s best shot flush on the chin and followed through simultaneously on a heinous counter right hand that floored Geale and led to his exit.

With a frightening level of poise and craft to match his other-worldly power, Golovkin isn’t just the class of the middleweight division (Geale’s promoter, Gary Shaw, called Golovin the best 160-pounder he has ever seen after the fight); he has stamped his spot among the sport’s pound-for-pound best.

The only remaining question about Golovkin, who hasn’t seen a fight go the distance since 2008, is simple: Who is going to be able to stand up to that kind of heat?

2. GGG’s becoming a big draw, too

Along with being such a dangerous opponent due to his power and amateur pedigree, a major reason Golovkin was one of boxing’s most avoided fighters was due to his small fan base in America.

The tide, however, is beginning to turn in a big way, as evidenced by Golovkin's drawing an attendance of 8,572 for his first appearance at the big arena at Madison Square Garden.

Golovkin’s star is growing quickly due to the combination of his aggressive style, humble demeanor and boyish charm. He’s also taking to English at a much more rapid pace and is willing to fight anyone over the span of three different weight classes, which is almost unheard of for an elite fighter.

But what separates Golovkin from just about any other fighter with crossover potential is the game-changing power he possesses in both hands. GGG’s power is not only the great equalizer in the ring, it’s the unquestioned key to the hearts of the casual fan.

And that’s where the true money is in the sport.

3. Don’t hold your breath on a middleweight summit

By virtue of his June stoppage over longtime lineal champion Sergio Martinez in the same building as Golovkin’s 11th straight title defense on Saturday, Puerto Rican star Miguel Cotto grabbed the mantle as the division’s king.

But that doesn’t mean most would regard Cotto as the best middleweight in the world. And as optimistic as fans might want to be regarding a potential showdown between the division’s top two fighters to close 2014, the smart money would be against holding out too much hope.

While Cotto-Golovkin would be one of the biggest fights you could make in the sport, and in some ways, a crossroads meeting between MSG’s highest-profile tenants, logic would likely lead Cotto toward more lucrative -- and less dangerous -- options.

There was some thought that if Golovkin looked relatively human against Geale it might help him draw a big opponent. Instead he looked like a superhero.

Cotto’s history of daring to be great and taking on the toughest challenges available might be enough for some to hold out partial hope. But Cotto’s status as a promotional free agent allow him too much flexibility to make the richest fight available to him.

As much as a middleweight summit against Golovkin makes a ton of sense, a fight with Mexican star Canelo Alvarez, for example, makes a lot more cents (and many more dollars) for Cotto. And money always talks.

4. Jennings-Perez fails to impress

With a mandatory heavyweight title shot at stake and the opportunity for the winner to announce himself as the next big thing in the division, the co-main event between unbeaten Bryant Jennings and Mike Perez had tremendous potential for an all-action affair.

But the fight failed to live up to expectations -- both in terms of entertainment, and in the sense that neither fighter came out of it with their stock elevated thanks to how the fight played out.

Jennings (19-0, 10 KOs) claimed a split-decision victory thanks in part to a 12th-round point deduction against Perez for hitting on the break by referee Harvey Dock. Without the deduction, the fight would have been a draw.

Perez (20-1-1, 12 KOs), a native of Cuba who fights out of Ireland, saw most of his success countering Jennings in the early rounds go to waste thanks to poor conditioning (he weighed in 11 pounds heavier than his last fight in January).

What Perez’s late fade also did was lower the shine on Jennings’ comeback over the second half of the fight, when he stepped up the pace considerably.

The victory puts Jennings in position to face the winner of a fall meeting between titlist Bermane Stiverne and unbeaten challenger Deontay Wilder. Yet the fight failed in its purpose of giving fans of the often dormant division something to be excited over.

5. New York is back

There was a time in the not-so-distant past when New York City, and specifically The Garden, was the center of the universe for big-time boxing

And even though the majority of major fights still consistently finds a comfortable home at the major casinos in Las Vegas, the city that never sleeps is making a noted comeback.

Cotto saw his brand rejuvenated with his victory over Martinez and Golovkin has made an effort to follow in his footsteps by becoming a house fighter at MSG. But the emergence of the Barclays Center in Brooklyn has also helped New York grab a strong run of high-profile fights over the past two years.

Attending a major fight in Las Vegas is an experience unto itself. But nothing quite compares to the buzz in the streets before and after a blockbuster fight in the Big Apple.

Garcia, Prescott set for showdown on FNF

July, 24, 2014
Jul 24
videoExpect plenty of action when Roberto Garcia puts his seven-fight win streak on the line against rugged veteran Breidis Prescott in the main event of ESPN's "Friday Night Fights" from Chicago's UIC Pavilion.

Garcia (35-3, 23 KOs) enters the 10-round welterweight bout (ESPN2, 9 p.m. ET) unbeaten since his 2010 decision loss to Antonio Margarito at junior middleweight. A native of Mexico who fights out of Texas, Garcia enters just his second fight at welterweight in the last seven years.

He enters Friday's bout fresh off an impressive sixth-round TKO win over Victor Cayo in May on FNF. Before that, Garcia, 34, claimed a split decision over Norberto Gonzalez despite taking the fight on short notice.

Prescott (27-5, 20 KOs), a native of Colombia based in Miami, first made a name for himself in the elite of professional boxing when he knocked out then-unbeaten Amir Khan in the first round of their 2008 bout. Prescott also owns a 2008 victory over current lightweight titlist Richar Abril and came up empty in a fight-of-the-year candidate against Mike Alvarado in 2011.

Friday night's fight features two veterans who appear to be going in different directions in their careers, yet both are desperate for a big win. For Garcia, it would be his ticket to a title shot. For Prescott, who has lost three of his last six bouts, a victory would be the boost he needs to land another big fight.

Garcia will surely be the more aggressive fighter, looking to apply pressure from the start of the fight. Look for him to set the pace by using lateral movements and a high volume of punches with both hands.

Prescott is quicker and more elusive, relying on his jab to establish control. He's also not adverse to trading power shots with either hand.

This has the potential to be an emotional fight with a high volume of punches, and it isn't likely to go the distance. Both boxers have knockout power, although Garcia, given his impressive win streak, is without question the favorite coming in.

In the co-main event, middleweight contender Caleb Truax (23-1-2, 14 KOs) faces Derek Ennis (24-4-1, 13 KOs).