NEW YORK — The patience, the power and killer instinct necessary to be a champion were all on display on Saturday night in unbeaten featherweight contender Miguel “Mikey” Garcia, who dropped Juan Carlos Martinez three times before finishing him at 2 minutes, 46 seconds of the fourth round before a crowd of 4,425 at WaMu Theater inside Madison Square Garden.
The 23-year-old Garcia rose to 27-0 with his 23rd stoppage, dropping Martinez to 18-13-1, with 6 KOs. The knockout was the sixth straight for Garcia and his 12th in his past 13 fights.
Garcia-Martinez took place on the undercard of a main event featuring THE RING’s No. 4 pound-for-pound WBO/WBC bantamweight titleholder Nonito Donaire (26-1, 18 KOs) defending against WBO junior bantamweight beltholder Omar Narvaez (35-0-2, 19 KOs) of Argentina.
Even before the bout, Garcia had declared himself ready for any of the division’s best, including titleholders Orlando Salido, Johnny Gonzalez, Chris John and Billy Dib of the WBO, the WBC, the WBA and the IBF, respectively.
John is considered the WBA’s super champion, and Celestino Caballero, the organization’s regular titleholder. There are also former beltholders such as Juan Manuel Lopez and unbeaten former Cuban Olympic gold medalist Yuriorkis Gamboa.
“I think that my style would cause a lot of problems for the other champions. I can fight coming forward if I have to, I can also fight moving away,” said Garcia, whose long arms and height at nearly 5-foot-8 could also be troublesome.
“I can box, I can punch, and at 5-foot-7, I think that I have good range and distance to give most of my opponents trouble. So I’m ready for anybody out there. It’s all up to my manager and my promoters.”
Garcia’s promoter, Top Rank Inc. CEO, Bob Arum, is in agreement that the fighter is ready.
“Mikey Garcia is one of the best featherweights out there, and, maybe, the best. I would put him in there with anybody. And we’re going to look at a really big fight for him right after Jan. 1 of 2012,” said Arum.
“He’s going to be fighting right after Jan. 1. He’s one of the brightest lights of the division, and a sensational fighter I could see him fighting any of the champions, absolutely.”
Garcia’s manager, Cameron Dunkin, appears to have targeted Caballero.
“There’s some good names out there. Johnny Gonzalez is one of them, but Caballero is another one. That’s who Cameron mentioned, that it’s possible that Mikey could fight Caballero during the first part of next year or so. Hopefully, Arum can work that out and make that happen,” said older brother, Robert Garcia, who trains Mikey along with their father, Eduardo Garcia.
“The highlights showed Mikey’s power punches. So he was accurate with the right hand. What I was told by Cameron, by [Top Rank Inc. President] Todd duBoef and Bob Arum is that Mikey looked sensational. That’s what they were saying. That Arum was very, very pleased by Mikey’s performance, so that’s all that matters.”
Garcia was coming off of an impressive fourth-round stoppage of Rafael Guzman, who entered the bout with a mark of 28-2 that included 20 knockouts, and had won four consecutive bouts, including three straight stoppages.
Prior to that, Garcia made his East Coast debut at Atlantic City’s Boardwalk Hall, where he finished previously unbeaten Matt Remillard in the 10th, flooring him in both the ninth and final rounds.
Photo by Chris Farina, Top Rank Inc.
Lem Satterfield can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org