The Ford Center in Frisco, Texas will have a stacked card headlined by Mikey Garcia against Jessie Vargas for the WBC diamond welterweight title. This is a pivotal fight for both men as they can’t afford a loss or they will be on the outside looking in on contending for one of the top spots in a division filled with great fighters.
Garcia (39-1) has not been in the boxing ring since his loss to now unified champion Errol Spence, Jr. in AT&T Stadium last year. He wants to make a statement that he can compete in the welterweight division, as he was a champion at lightweight and super lightweight.
“I’m here to do one thing…I’m here to take over and show everybody that there is a lot more to Mikey Garcia,” he told the people in attendance at the press conference. “I’m going to display all my skills and be a contender in the welterweight division.”
The task ahead of him on Saturday is defeating Jessie Vargas, who he feels is a tough opponent that will make him work for the victory.
“We landed on Vargas because he’s a two-weight champion, solid career, big size, and has height. He’s everything that people have been telling me I shouldn’t be fighting, but I’m going to do everything I can to win this fight. I expect the best Jessie Vargas and that will allow to me display all my skills.”
Vargas wants to become world champion again in the welterweight division. He captured the WBO title with a KO victory over Sadam Ali, but then lost it in his first defense against Manny Pacquiao. He has a record of 2-0-2 since, but some people are disappointed in the performances against Adrien Broner and Thomas Dulorme. On Saturday, he feels that he is well prepared for his fight against Garcia.
“I’m very much prepared. I trained very hard the last two months,” Vargas said at the press conference today. “It’s the best training camp I’ve had to date. I know what’s ahead of me and I know the opportunity in front of me.”
The confidence within Vargas has him feeling that he will have his hand raised and put his name back in the hat of top contenders in the division.
“I’ve never looked this good in the ring. I’m feeling good, I know Mikey is a good fighter. The moment the bell rings it’s fight time. I plan on giving a fantastic performance so you acknowledge that I’m the best in the division.”
Before that fight takes place, a bout featuring an undefeated champion and a former top pound-for-pound fighter will occur. Khalid Yafai (26-0, 15 KOs) will defend the WBA super flyweight title against Roman “Chocolatito” Gonzalez (48-2, 40 KOs). Gonzalez had been regarded as one of the most exciting fighters in the sport, winning up to 46 consecutive fights and being a champion in four weight divisions before suffering his first loss against Srisaket Sor Rungvisai. A knockout loss in the rematch had some doubting that he could return to form, but after two wins he has a chance to become champion once again.
“I’m in the best condition for this fight,” Gonzalez stated in his speech at the press conference. “I have taken advantage of this opportunity a lot, and I come with good blessings that I will win on Saturday night.”
Yafai will be making his sixth defense of the belt and is coming off defeating Norbelto Jimenez in Providence last June. He has a lot of respect for Gonzalez and what he has done over the course of his professional career. However, he knows that this is a big fight for him to show that he is among the best in the super flyweight division.
“I look up to Roman, so it’s going to be hard to fight him,” Yafai remarked. “I’m gonna have to do what I gotta do. I will do everything I can to come out with a win to remain Britain’s longest reigning world champion.”
One other fight to keep an eye on is the heavyweight bout between Joseph Parker and Shawndell Winters. Parker (26-2, 20 KOs) is the former WBO champion who had lost the belt to Anthony Joshua and then received a close decision loss to Dillian Whyte in 2018. Before the year ended he scored a stoppage win over Alexander Flores, then followed that up with a victory over Alex Leapai. His objective is to become a contender for a world title once again, and Winters is in his way. He feels that he hasn’t been that active recently so he is thankful that he will be back in the ring on Saturday.
“Last time I fought was June 2019, so I’m very excited to fight this weekend,” Parker said. “I’ve put in a lot of hard work in camp, I’ve come ready for this fight. I will not take this fight for granted.”
There are a lot of people that favor Parker over Winters (13-2, 12 KOs), who hasn’t fought anyone the caliber of the opponent that he will face at the Ford Center. Winters is aware of this, and he is not taking this fight for granted either.
“I’m not coming here to just take pictures of Joseph Parker, I ain’t coming here to be a fan of Joseph Parker…it’s actually very nice for y’all to finally meet me,” Winters said to the crowd. “To be real with you, I’m coming to fight. I come to win, and I believe that this is my opportunity. I’m very confident, and I look forward to Saturday night.”
There will be a lot to look forward to as this card shapes to be a good one.
Cover photo by Ed Mulholland of Matchroom Boxing USA