Graham's Odds: 
Garcia -350; Villa +250
Over 9.5 +100; under 9.5 -110

Two decades ago a fighter from New Mexico named Tommy Cordova was a staple on ESPN. He fought as a featherweight and junior lightweight and his many wars included a split decision win over Freddie Roach in 1984.

To me, the Texas-Mexican featherweight Tomas Villa is a latter-day Tommy Cordova — a tough, dead-game, come-forward fighter who unfailingly provides action and excitement.

Villa tops the bill on Fox Sports Espanol on Saturday night, and although boxing in his home state he starts the underdog against unbeaten Miguel Angel “Mikey” Garcia, from Oxnard, CA.

The 12-rounder, for the vacant USBA title, should be one of the most entertaining so far in the Top Rank Live! series. Villa simply cannot be in a bad fight, while Garcia — who is trained by his brother, ex-champ Robert Garcia — is starting to show improved technique and punching power, having stopped his last five opponents.

I had my doubts about Garcia after his struggle with the veteran Walter Estrada in October 2008. Although Garcia won, it was a close fight on the judges’ cards and he suffered a knockdown in the fourth round when Estrada sat him down with a left hand from the Colombian’s southpaw stance.

Perhaps that was one of those fights where an up-and-coming boxer meets an opponent whose style proves puzzling for him. Garcia just couldn’t seem to figure out Estrada.

Since then, though, Garcia has been blowing through everyone. Last August, Garcia stopped Carlos Rivera, a boxer from Florida who had won seven fights in a row, in the seventh round, and in his last fight, in January, he halted the seasoned Arturo Gomez in five rounds, which was a good result as Gomez had not been stopped in three years and had taken Victor Cayo and Oscar Larios the 12-round distance (and he nearly beat Larios).

Villa, though, is clearly Garcia’s stiffest test. His only loss in the last five years came when he was knocked out in the last round by Rogers Mtagwa — but Villa was just a few punches from victory when he had his man down and almost out in the ninth round of a ferociously exciting fight. Villa has won two bouts since then, and he showed his customary high-pressure, fists-pumping style in his last fight when winning by DQ over Juan Ruiz.

Garcia, 22, is the more polished and probably the sharper hitter but Villa, 26, is busier and will be bringing relentless pressure. This fight could be on the lines of the war between Antonio Escalante and Miguel Roman in February. Villa has been in so many hard fights, though, that one would think they must eventually catch up with him. Garcia has a fight on his hands but Villa will be right in front of him and this should allow the younger man to land hard, accurate punches. I think that Garcia can make a statement in this fight by wearing down the durable Villa and perhaps stopping him some time after the start of the ninth round.

Last Updated: 
April 2, 2010 - 7:34am