Fight Week: Mike Garcia returns after 20 months to face obscure foe

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FIGHT WEEK

MIKEY GARCIA RETURNS AFTER A 20-MONTH LAYOFF TO FACE SANDOR MARTIN OF SPAIN ON SATURDAY. ALSO, ON FRIDAY, EMANUEL NAVARRETE WILL DEFEND HIS TITLE AGAINST JOET GONZALEZ.

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EMANUEL NAVARRETE (34-1, 29 KOs) VS. JOET GONZALEZ (24-1, 14 KOs)

  • When: Friday, Oct. 15

  • Where: Pechanga Arena, San Diego

  • TV/Stream: ESPN+

  • Division: Featherweights

  • At stake: No titles

  • Pound-for-pound ranking: None

  • Odds: NA

  • Also on the card: Giovani Santillan vs. Angel Ruiz, welterweights

  • Prediction: Navarrete UD

  • Background: Navarrete is a two-division titleholder who will be making the second defense of his 126-pound belt, which he won by outpointing Ruben Villa when the title was vacant. The swarming volume puncher from Mexico City, who gradually wears his opponents down, established himself as an elite fighter by defeating Isaac Dogboe in consecutive fights in 2018 (UD) and 2019 (TKO 12). The first one was for the WBO 122-pound title. He successfully defended that belt five times before moving up to featherweight. The 26-year-old is coming off a 12th-round TKO of Christopher Diaz in April, a fight he was winning by a large margin at the time of the stoppage. Navarrete’s only loss came in his sixth pro fight, more than nine years ago. Gonzalez, a 27-year-old product of Los Angeles, might be best known for losing a wide decision to talented Shakur Stevenson in a fight for the vacant WBO 126-pound title, which Stevenson immediately vacated. However, Gonzalez is a good all-around fighter. He rebounded from the loss to Stevenson by easily outpoint veteran Miguel Marriaga and has other victories over solid opponents.

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MIKEY GARCIA (40-1, 30 KOs) VS. SANDOR MARTIN (38-2, 13 KOs)

  • When: Saturday, Oct. 16

  • Where: Chukchansi Park, Fresno

  • TV/Stream: DAZN

  • Division: Welterweights

  • At stake: No titles

  • Pound-for-pound ranking: Garcia No. 11

  • Odds: NA

  • Also on the card: Elwin Soto vs. Jonathan Gonzalez, junior flyweights (for Soto’s WBO title); Esteban Bermudez vs. Jesse Rodriguez, junior flyweights

  • Prediction: Garcia KO 7

  • Background: Garcia was a prime candidate to face Manny Pacquiao but the Filipino star ended up fighting Yordenis Ugas. Then the former four-division titleholder was in talks to face Regis Prograis in what would’ve been a major fight but it didn’t happen. So now, just to keep busy, he’ll face a relatively unknown Spaniard and seek bigger and better challenges afterward. Garcia, 33, bounced back from his one-sided loss to Errol Spence Jr. in March 2019 to defeat veteran Jessie Vargas by a convincing decision in February of last year. That was his most-recent fight, meaning he will have been out of the ring for almost 20 months. He is ranked No. 3 by the WBO and No. 4 by the WBC. Martin, a 28-year-old from Barcelona, has a lot working against him. He has never faced anyone near Garcia’s ability, he’ll be fighting outside of Europe for the first time and he’s moving up in weight for the fight. He has won nine consecutive fights since losing a decision to Anthony Yigit in 2017 – including a decision over Kay Prospere in April, his last fight – but the streak figures to end in Fresno. On the undercard, Elwin Soto (19-1, 13 KOs) of Mexico will make the fourth defense of his WBO junior flyweight title against Puerto Rican resident Jonathan Gonzalez (24-3-1, 14 KOs).

Also fighting this weekend:

THURSDAY

  • Manuel Gallegos (18-1, 15 KOs) of Mexico will face countryman Gabriel Lopez (10-5-1, 7 KOs) in a scheduled 10-round super middleweight fight in Los Mochis, Mexico (UFC Fight Pass).

FRIDAY

  • Santiago Dominguez (24-0, 18 KOs) of Mexico will take on Jesus Antonio Rubio (13-4-1, 7 KOs), also of Mexico, in a scheduled 10-round welterweight bout in Los Mochis (UFC Fight Pass).

SATURDAY

  • IBF cruiserweight titleholder Mairis Briedis (27-1, 19 KOs) will defend his belt against Artur Mann (17-1, 9 KOs) of Kazakhstan in Riga, Latvia, Briedis’ home country.

  • Hughie Fury (25-3, 14 KOs) of England will face Christian Hammer (26-7, 16 KOs) of Romania in a scheduled 10-round heavyweight bout in Newcastle, England (Sky Sports in the U.K.). Also on that card, WBO middleweight titleholder Savannah Marshall (10-0, 8 KOs) of England will defend her belt against Lolita Muzeya (16-0, 8 KOs) of Zambia. And Chris Eubank Jr. (30-2, 22 KOs) of England will face Wanik Awdijan (28-1, 11 KOs) of Armenia in a scheduled 10-round middleweight bout.

  • New Yorker Cletus Seldin (25-1, 21 KOs) will fight William Silva (28-3, 16 KOs) of Brazil in a scheduled 10-round junior welterweight bout at Barclays Center in Brooklyn (FITE).