Photos by Sumio Yamada
MIGUEL ANGEL GARCIA vs MATT REMILLARD
Unbeaten featherweights meet on HBO tonight in the biggest test for either of them when Miguel Angel Garcia, of Oxnard, CA, faces Matt Remillard, of Connecticut, in a 12-round NABF title bout.
Garcia, trained by his ex-champ brother, Robert, has been steadily progressing, with the calibre of his opposition getting slightly higher. He blew out Tomas Villa in a striking 67-second victory over a fighter known for toughness, overwhelmed capable southpaw Cornelius Lock in the 11th round and, in his last fight, easily rolled over Olivier Lontchi in five rounds. Lontchi had, in his last fight, managed to get through nine rounds against heavy-handed Juan Manuel Lopez in a 122-pound title bout, but Garcia was too big and too strong.
Remillard, a year older than Garcia at 24, is a classy, quick boxer who really hasn’t been tested in 23 bouts. He has been boxing professionally for six years and he has been looking stronger and punching harder in the past year, with his body punching being particularly impressive.
Yet while Remillard is probably the faster and flashier of the two men, Garcia has the look of the stronger, more solid all-around fighter and he is punching with considerable authority, having stopped eight of his last nine opponents.
I can picture Remillard doing well in the early rounds, but Garcia is the type of fighter who brings steady, calculated pressure. Remillard’s movement around the ring is speedier, but Garcia has good hand speed and timing and I feel that Garcia is going to start forcing his way into control of the contest by the middle rounds. Indeed, Remillard might have trouble keeping Garcia off of him for 12 rounds (I have seen the bout listed as a 10-rounder, but the promoter, Top Rank, gives the distance as 12 rounds in publicist Lee Samuel’s media schedule).
The fight should be entertaining and I’m not writing off Remillard — he can box and he can fight, and we don’t know the level he can reach. It’s just that, to me, Garcia has more of the potential-champion look about him. I’m expecting a Garcia win and I think he can stop Remillard around the ninth or 10th round.
• This bout will mark a special occasion, with much-loved broadcaster Nick Charles due to join the commentary team. As most of you will know, Nick has been battling cancer and does not have a huge amount of time left on this earth. Yet Nick, 64, has remained incredibly upbeat during the long, difficult months of his treatment. Reporter Kevin Iole of Yahoo! Sports wrote a story on Nick that does justice to a great man. Here is the link
Nick Charles has been involved in boxing commentary for years and was a popular partner with Steve Farhood on the Showtime ShoBox series until his illness obliged him to step down. I am not sure whether he knows it, but Nick has been an inspiration to me. Whenever I’m feeling a bit down, or find myself getting stressed over what usually is a matter of small importance, I often think of all Nick has been through and how nobly he has conducted himself in the time of crisis, and it helps me to put things into perspective. I might even say the words: “Sorry, Nick,” if I have let one of life’s minor letdowns get the better of me momentarily, because I know it is as nothing compared to Nick’s literally life and death struggle.