Early plans may be in the works for newly-crowned WBO junior lightweight titleholder Mikey Garcia to make his first defense against Juan Carlos Burgos. Garcia won the belt on Saturday with an eighth-round knockout over Roman “Rocky” Martinez, who many felt was fortunate to walk away with a draw in his January bout against Burgos.
Top Rank CEO Bob Arum, who handles Garcia, and Banner Promotions CEO Artie Pelullo, who has Burgos, have each said that HBO is interested in the bout.
Coming off July’s draw with Yakubu Amidu, Burgos could face Garcia “In March or April,” according to Pelullo.
“That is correct,” said Arum. “There aren’t a lot of guys who can even be thought of as being competitive with Mikey in the 130-pound division, but Burgos is a tough customer, and could give him a really good fight. That’s one of the things that we’ve been discussing with HBO, because Mikey is considered by them to be one of their stars and Burgos would be a good opponent, particularly if Yuriorkis Gamboa were for any reason unavailable.
“Other than Gamboa, who has the bigger name, I don’t know who else we can put Mikey in the ring with at 130. The ultimate plan is for Mikey to move up to 135, and at that point there will be a lot of guys he can fight.”
Garcia-Burgos would be the latest in a series of recent bouts between fighters handled by Arum and Pelullo.
In March, Pelullo’s fighter, Ruslan Provodnikov, lost by unanimous decision to Arum’s WBO welterweight beltholder Tim Bradley, but came through against Arum’s Mike Alvarado with a 10th-round knockout for the WBO’s junior welterweight title in October.
The Arum-Pelullo rivalry is likely to continue on March 1 with a super middleweight rematch between Julio Cesar Chavez Jr., promoted by Arum, and Bryan Vera, handled by Pelullo.
“Obviously, Artie Pelullo is a professional, and we’re trying to do it in the best possible way. Even though we root for our respective fighters, we’re courteous to each other and we’ll go out and have a meal together. It’s a good relationship that you should have with a colleague,” said Arum.
“Again, he doesn’t fight in the ring, and I don’t fight in the ring. The fighters fight in the ring. We have just made the fights, and the fights have all been successful and, by and large, very crowd-pleasing and they’ve been competitive, which is good for the fans and good for the business.”
“Now these young kids that I developed on ESPN have all come to the front,” said Pelullo. “Provodnikov got an opportunity against Bradley, and even though he lost, he looked great. Then, he knocked out Alvarado, and he won the world title. Demetrius, we’ve been building for five years and we took our time with him. We made sure that we went at the right pace with him, and now, he’s won a world title. Bryan Vera, we’ve had on ESPN, and he knocked out [Sergei] Dzinziruk, the former WBO 154-pound champion, and he gets an opportunity to fight Chavez, and clearly he won the fight and got a raw decision. He gets another opportunity in March.
“And now, Burgos will be fighting somebody very shortly and then I think he’s in line for Mikey Garcia. When Mikey Garcia got the opportunity to fight Martinez, we were told that we would be next. So we’re the next fight. I don’t know when that will happen, but probably in March or April. I think that Bob will make the fight, you know, because he doesn’t think he can lose the fight. Why wouldn’t he want to make it? It’s a good fight because Juan only has one loss, and one draw, and he fought twice for the title. I thought that he beat Martinez at Madison Square Garden. So did everybody else. So him and Mikey Garcia will be a very good fight, and I think that we have a great opportunity to win the fight.”
Photo by Chris Farina-Top Rank
Lem Satterfield can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org