NEW YORK– Héctor Luis García, the 31-year old Dominican Republic southpaw will have the reach when he opposes Gervonta Davis for his WBA Lightweight title on Showtime Pay-Per-View Saturday evening. Undefeated in 16 fights, Garcia is up against all odds.
He is the underdog, no surprise there. García, though, highlighted as a main event challenger in the first major fight card of the year, realizes the Davis hometown crowd at the Capital One Arena in Washington D.C. will be another obstacle.
Baltimore Maryland born and raised, Davis will have a packed hometown crowd take the 35-mile drive to Washington D.C.
But as Garcia says, this is also a fight for the Dominican Republic. He fights for the representation and significance if his hands are raised as a new champion in a lightweight division stacked with talent.
Devin Haney, also a young superstar in the world of boxing politics is considered the unified and undefeated champion and took the titles last year with a win and defense against George Kambosos Jr.
“This fight is not only important to me, but to the whole Dominican Republic,” García said Wednesday through an interpreter. “I’m going up against one of the best pound-for-pound fighters in the world and I know that I have to be ready for that challenge. I’m coming to show the world that superstars can fall too.”
Regardless of the obstacles, García is ready for the challenge and opportunity to dethrone Davis, one of the rising and young superstars who continues to overcome obstacles outside the ring.
Two weeks ago, there were questions and speculation if this fight would occur. Davis was confronted with another domestic violence assault, detained, and released as a $1,000 bond was posted. A day later the incident was retracted into denials and Davis was back in the gym preparing for his title defense.
So for now there are no distractions. García not looking at the crowd or that Davis has fought in the D.C. district four times. He is not distracted about the 13th title defense for Davis, a champion who is looking at this as a tuneup fight before an agreed upon blockbuster encounter with undefeated star Ryan Garcia in mid April.
So this is one unbeaten fighter against another. And García, coming off a successful year with three unanimous decisions, is taking on a difficult task as that underrated opponent. But, he is classified as a fighter that has always taken on a challenge and no better than this one.
“I’ve been fighting since I was 14-years old and I come from a very small province in the Dominican Republic,” García said. “I’ve had to earn everything I’ve ever gotten. This is a great opportunity and I’m ready to capitalize. I know that I have an advantage with my reach. It definitely could be a factor in this fight. But at the same time, I have to take the fight moment by moment and be attentive to every detail.”
He said being attentive in the ring is a priority all the time, Davis, though, and despite his distractions never seems to lose focus and García is well aware to be more attentive of every move and punch.
Davis has foot speed, a lethal jab, and when the timing is right knows how and when to throw the knockout punch giving his smaller height as compared to García.
“This means a lot,” Davis said about his title defense and opposing García, an opponent he chose because of his success ratio. “I’m happy to be home in front of a great crowd. I know that Héctor Luis García is going to come to fight and we’re going to give the fans what they want to see. García did what he had to do to earn this fight. He beat a top contender and then won the belt. Giving him the shot was the perfect timing for everyone. He earned his stripes.”
Davis referred to García defeating top contender Chris Colbert and then defeating Roger Gutiérrez in August for the WBA Super Featherweight title, the steps to gain this title opportunity.
“I can guarantee that the Dominican Republic will be proud of me,” García says. “Our flag will be raised up high. Everyone will expect a great performance from me Saturday night.”
The pay-per-view telecast presented by Premier Boxing Champions, begins at 9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT and features unbeaten rising star Jaron “Boots” Ennis returning to action to take on the IBF No.4-rated welterweight Karen Chukhadzhian for the Interim IBF Welterweight Title in the co-main event, while unbeaten welterweight contender Rashidi Ellis faces the hard-hitting Roiman Villa in a high-octane 12-round duel.
Kicking off the pay-per-view telecast is undefeated two-division world champion Demetrius “Boo Boo” Andrade stepping into the ring for a 10-round super middleweight clash against Laurel, Maryland-native Demond Nicholson.
Passing Of Hector Roca: He wasn’t a household name but 82-year old Hector Roca was instrumental in the corner for many champions and fighters aspiring to be champions.
Roca this week passed away after a long illness and will be missed. The native of Panama made his second home at Gleason’s Gym in New York City and at their later location in Brooklyn. He was instrumental in the careers of world champions including Iran Barkley, Arturo Gatti, Buddy McGirt, and a ton of other fighters.
Roca also trained actor Hilary Swank in her acclaimed role as the female fighter in the movie “Million Dollar Baby.” She said often, Roca made her the real fighter that played out in her action training and in the ring.
From this perspective, I will always recall the gracious welcome that Roca provided. As a rookie reporter covering the boxing beat, a new kid on the block, Roca accepted me in the gym and always provided insights I needed about his fighter.
It is always intimidating and even now even more so when approaching a boxing trainer in their territory of a gym, their second home as it was for Roca.
But from that first day, many years ago, as the fighters have said, Hector Roca gave you the chance. He never denied me the opportunity for that important interview and information about his fighters or the strategy. He became that second father to many fighters that is known as the trainer.
A GoFundMe page has been organized by Rebecca Brown to go towards repatriating his body to Panama to lay alongside his mother.
Rest in Peace Hector.
Rich Mancuso is Co-Editor and senior writer @Latinosports.com Twitter@Ring786 Facebook.com/Rich Mancuso. Watch “Sports With Rich” with Rich and co-host Robert Rizzo Tuesday evening live 8pmET on the SLG Network and YouTube
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