This weekend, three-weight-class world champion Mikey Garcia will lace up the gloves and face Sergey Lipinets for yet another world title in another weight class. If Garcia was in MMA he would probably be the face of the sport due to his consistent, pressure cooker, technical brilliance.
It's the equivalent of a vintage UFC welterweight champion Matt Hughes style takedown every time, except Garcia achieves the effect with his gloves.
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As the direct protege of his champion-making trainer/father and trainer/brother Robert Garcia, the family from Oxnard and now nestled in California's Inland Empire has been advancing the culture for decades. They are a part of a new generation molded from knowledge passed down and utilized across the board for Mexico's new boxing leaders.
Today's boxing has a lot to thank Mexico for, and here are the athletes that are extending a legacy of bravery and honor unmatched by most in the sport.
On October 14, 2017 featherweight champion Abner Mares steps in the ring to face veteran Andres Gutierrez in a scheduled 12-round championship fight. Mares controls the fight from the beginning using his jab to work on the inside of Gutierrez. Mares found success with the right hand which eventually opened up a cut under Gutierrez's left eye.
Abner Mares (30-2-1) is the quintessential Mexican athlete and advocate for the underserved and underprivileged. He is a four-division champion, Olympian and tenacious fighter known for strategy, heart, and execution.
As the second youngest fighter to be a three-time World Champion, Abner’s ring work speaks for itself and continues to grow. He won his fourth title on December 10, 2016 - the WBA Featherweight crown – when he defeated Argentina’s Jesus Cuellar in an electric fight that ended in a split decision for Abner. He also held the IBF Bantamweight, WBC Super bantamweight and WBC Featherweight titles as well as being a member of the 2004 Athens games Mexican Olympic Boxing team.
Born in Guadalajara, he was raised in both Mexico and in the United States in Hawaiian Gardens, CA with his parents working multiple jobs to provide for their 11 children. Abner’s father introduced him to boxing at a young age. The story of his family’s struggles both in Mexico and the U.S. has been well documented, as he came to the U.S. at seven years old, immigrating to the U.S. via Tijuana. The journey and challenges he and his family faced as new immigrants, not knowing English, were real and he credits boxing’s core tenants of strength, focus and dedication in helping him change his life.
“Boxing has meant everything to me,” he said. “It’s allowed me the financial opportunities to rise out of poverty as a child, and through commitment and determination I’ve set a statement for hard work and educating yourself in the sport.”
August 29, 2015 - PBC on ESPN: After 12 rounds and over 2,000 punches thrown, Leo Santa Cruz scores the majority decision victory over Abner Mares. Visit PremierBoxingChampions.com for info. FOLLOW US: https://twitter.com/premierboxing https://instagram.com/premierboxingchamps https://www.facebook.com/premierboxingchampions
Leo Santa Cruz (33-1-1, 18 KOs) established himself as one of the top featherweights in the world in matches against Mares and Carl Frampton. Cruz lost a close decision to Frampton in 2016 and avenged the loss with a decision victory on Jan. 28 in Las Vegas. The 29 year old was unbeaten in his first 33 pro fights on his way to world titles at 118, 122 and 126-pounds.
Currently, Santa Cruz is the WBA (Super) featherweight champion and will face Mares again in June 2018 for another epic Southern California battle.
"This has been another very hard training camp for me and my team," said Santa Cruz. "No matter who the opponent is, we work hard every day and build each other up."
Oscar Valdez came back from an early KD to successfully defend his title against Genesis Servania last Friday on ESPN.
Oscar Valdez (23-0, 19 KO's) has been the WBO featherweight champion since 2016. Valdez qualified for the 2008 Olympics at the age of 17 and became the first Mexican Youth World Champion. As one of Mexico's brightest young stars this undefeated champ will face Scott Quigg this weekend live on ESPN as part of Top Rank's free cable TV offerings.
With boxing's politics being what they are it is unlikely that we will see Valdez fight Santa Cruz, Mares, or Gary Russell, Jr., anytime soon. However, Valdez has been dominating and will continue to the tradition of aggressive Mexican warriors in the ring.
Mikey Garcia is now a 3-division world champion, as he takes down Dejan Zlaticanin with a devastating knockout in round 3 of their WBC Lightweight World Title fight.
Mikey Garcia (37-0, 30 KOs) is a 29-year-old phenom that returned to the pound-for-pound lists in 2017 by scoring a highlight reel knockout over Dejan Zlaticanin to win the WBC Lightweight World Championship in January. He then dominated four-division champion Adrien "The Problem" Broner on his way to a unanimous decision in July. Garcia is a member of a renowned boxing family and is noted for his technical genius and his mental presence in the ring, fine-tuned by his brother and acclaimed trainer Robert Garcia.
Garcia returned to the ring after a two-and-half-year layoff in July 2016 due to a dispute with a former promoter without missing a beat by stopping former champion Elio Rojas. Garcia, who has held world titles at 126, 130 and 135 pounds, has stopped 19 of his last 22 opponents including Roman “Rocky” Martinez, Juan Manuel Lopez and Orlando Salido.
Now fighting IBF 140-pound world champion Sergey Lipinets on Saturday, a win would make Garcia only the third fighter in modern history to become champion at 126, 130, 135 and 140-pounds, joining future Hall of Famers Juan Manuel Marquez and Manny Pacquiao.
Pacquiao won lineal championships at 126 and 140-pounds, although he did not win alphabet titles. With talks to possibly fight UFC champion Max Holloway in boxing and moving up to the welterweight limit of 147lbs, Garcia is blazing a new path.
Relive this year's middleweight war between Canelo Alvarez and Gennady Golovkin. HBO celebrates boxing's best of 2017 by featuring the year's most unforgettable fights, with different bouts airing every night from Dec. 26-29, 2017.
You cannot mention today's Mexican boxing without Saul "Canelo" Alvarez.
The cinnamon-colored boxing star is Mexico's ambassador of boxing and their pay-per-view and box office star. Now facing his middleweight equal in Gennady "GGG" Golovkin for part two of Middleweight Supremacy, Alvarez has shown why he is one of the most feared men in boxing time and time again.
There have been two times that Canelo vulnerable. That is when he couldn't catch Floyd Mayweather, Jr. in their matchup, and his last match against GGG that showed his ability to take power punches though it was scary to watch.
For Mexico, Alvarez provides a glimpse into the dream of every Mexican, to be loved for bravery and honor. It is why he always walks out to mariachi music, owns a ranch in Mexico, and prefers to stay to his roots in his homeland.
Alvarez knows the Canelo brand and its power resonates through the pride he instills in the Mexican people themselves. When he demolished Julio Cesar Chavez, Jr. it was like the official crowning of Mexico's next great boxing legacy.
Now with his fight against GGG already being historic, the rematch this Cinco de Mayo, Mexican Independence Day, will be even bigger and better and carried by the love and loyalty of an entire country to the south of the U.S. border.
Mexico is the heart and soul of boxing and they more than most have contributed to the honor, the moments, and the battles that allowed the world to understand what true grit really means.