By Rich Mancuso
Mikey Garcia makes a return to the ring Saturday evening at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn New York having been idle after a contract dispute with promoters. His opponent, Elio Rojas of the Dominican Republic is also returning after a two-year hiatus because of a managerial dispute.
So this super lightweight bout, a co-feature to the anticipated showdown between featherweight champion Leo Santa Cruz and Carl Frampton will be viewed as significant because Garcia has a lot to gain and so does Rojas. And there is always that speculation as to ring rust that may have an impact on the outcome.
However, Garcia has stated there will be no rust. Rojas, 24-2, 14 KO’s, who has always had the power punch is just as confident there will be no signs of a long hiatus from the ring and intends to show that he is not just another opponent for Garcia, a fighter who has stated that a return win will begin the process of moving up in weight to 135.
“We’re both coming off of long layoffs,” Rojas said this week through a translator. “”I see the fight pretty even. Garcia might have some advantages of being the bigger guy but I’m not worried about that.”
That is the confidence that Rojas brings, and now that the hiatus is over he intends to show the world that boxing is a business in the ring, There are disputes with managers and promoters as Rojas has experienced, and Garcia had his issues splitting with his former promoters at Top Rank.
“I also haven’t fought in like two years,” said Rojas. “So both of us have the same thing. It’s the same thing as Mikey because of a contract dispute. So it will be a good fight.”
And this is a fight that can go either way. A decision is likely, but that depends again on who throws the better punch. Garcia is known to go at his opponent, as does the 26-year old Rojas who was last seen in the ring in August of 2014 in New York City. He won a unanimous decision over Robert Osiobe at the BB King Blues Club & Grill in the heart of Times Square.
“I feel like I can beat Mikey Garcia,” he said. “I have some things that I think will give Mikey Garcia a lot of trouble. I have the tools. We know that Mikey is the favorite Everyone thought LeBron James was going to lose in the finals when he was down 3-1m but this is a sport and anything can happen.”
Yes, this is a sport where anything is possible, and a comparison to what LeBron did in the NBA Finals perhaps takes this to another extreme, because boxing is the individual sport and the mentality of two athletes in the ring. LeBron and the NBA is a totally different situation as a team game.
This is also the Showtime Network debut for the undefeated, 34-0, Garcia. Rojas is aware of the implications. He wants to make a statement and the past is history because prior to the layoff, the boxing world was getting to know a possible rising star from the Dominican Republic.
“I expect to win a decision because I will boxing him,” Rojas says about the strategy he will use. The training has been intense, as expected. This by no means will be a fight that will be ignored and bypassed before the main event. It is about two fighters in the spotlight that will determine where the future holds.
Rojas has that type of impact to make things happen. Before his last fight, there was a loss to Jhonny Gonzalez for the WBC featherweight title by decision. Prior to that, Rojas stringed four straight wins by decision and TKO. He had the stardom coming and then, as boxing is a business, wanted to make some changes.
Now, with a new weight and positive attitude, Rojas says the confidence could not be better. “I’ve been doing everything right in training camp,” Rojas said. “My specialty is moving my hands and excellent footwork.”
Confidence, for sure. All that awaits fight fans Saturday night is the outcome and two fighters looking for something better.