Danny Garcia, Marco Antonio Periban headline San Diego Boxing Card

(l to r) Philadelphia Danny Garcia

(l to r) The pride of Philadelphia “Swift” Danny Garcia and the pride of Mexico City light heavyweight Marco Antonio Periban.

Thursday evening at the Four Points by Sheraton Hotel in San Diego the boxers assembled for their weigh-ins for Friday night’s Solo Boxeo Tecate Boxing Show to be aired the same night on the Telefutura Channel. Not unlike HBO Boxing’s 24/7 series which introduces the boxers to us boxing fans, here’s a snapshot of the combatants involved in Friday’s contests.


Headlining the show presented by Golden Boy Promotions in association with Jorge Marron Productions will be the exciting “Swift” Danny Garcia (19-0-0, 13 KOs). Six of his last seven bouts ended in either a knockout or a TKO. Garcia is from the City of Brotherly Love. Nineteen years ago, Garcia (now 22) and his family moved to Philadelphia from Puerto Rico and settled in the Kensington neighborhood, a low-income area composed of Polish, Irish, Puerto Ricans, Dominicans, and African-Americans.

Why would Kensington ring a bell? If you ask the residents of that area they’ll likely remind you of its sordid past. In 2010, three victims were found strangled in good old Kensington. The media referred to the killer as “The Kensington Strangler.” In 2007, the Philadelphia Weekly Magazine listed the intersection of Kensington Avenue and Somerset Street as the number one corner in the city for appropriating recreational drugs; this being a city that’s immense, the nation’s fourth-largest urban area by population. The fictional character Rocky Balboa lived in Kensington, thereby making it the main backdrop to be used in the original movie. In other words, Danny Garcia has grown up in a rough neighborhood. On Friday, Garcia will have John Figueroa in his sites.

Oddly enough Figueroa (7-8-3), who is eight years older than Garcia, is coming all the way from Salinas, Puerto Rico to fight Garcia. To his credit, Figueroa, who has lost six of his last seven bouts, has faced some really tough hombres: losing unanimous decisions to both Carlos Molina and Luis Ramos, Jr., a mixed decision to Fernando Torres and getting knocked out by Stalinn Lopez. 

Here’s a photo of a playground in the Philadelphia neighborhood of Kensington. Note the vacant factory in the background. Like other major metropolitan areas, Philadelphia, the centerpiece of early American history, has fallen on hard times.

Featured in the Co-main event are light-heavyweights Marco Antonio Periban, 26 years-old, from Venustiano, Carranza, Mexico City, Distrito Federal, Mexico, ranked #2 in Mexico, going against Dion Savage of Flint, Michigan, who turned 24 on February 15th and now fights out of Las Vegas, Nevada under the tutelage of Roger Mayweather.

Great things are expected of Marco Antonio Periban (10-0-0, 7 KOs)

Periban (10-0-0, 7 KO’s), who is ranked #2 south of the border, is another of Mexico’s great prospects. What makes him so unique is his size; he stands 6’2 1/2” tall and has an unbelievable reach. Golden Boy rushed to sign Periban after learning of his amazing amateur credentials. Like Savage, Periban has a top notch trainer in Al Stankie. The same Stankie who has worked 15 years with Erik “El Terrible” Morales. For the last three weeks, Periban has been training at the Technique Training Center in Indio, CA.

Dion Savage (10-0-0, 6 KOs) will be up against his toughest opponent to date. Photo: Jim Wyatt

Savage has a reputation for being a big hitter but he gets out of the gate slow and is content to be a counter puncher. Periban has faced tougher competition than Savage, who is yet to defeat a boxer with a winning record. This will be Savage’s fourth fight in Southern California; he fought twice at Club Nokia and back on July 23, 2010, at Pechanga he put a whooping on Demetrius Davis. According to Savage, his toughest opponent to date was Tommie “Big Poppa” Speller who he fought last May.

Frankie Martinez of Las Vegas via Costa Rica is hoping to even his record with a win over San Diego’s Adrian Vargas. Photo: Jim Wyatt

On the undercard, 21-year-old Adrian Vargas, who is trained by his brother, Juan Vargas, at the Undisputed Fitness and Training Center in Downtown San Diego is making his pro-debut against 28-year-old Frankie Martinez (0-1-0) now training in Las Vegas. After having 38 amateur bouts in his homeland of Costa Rica, Martinez is now trained by Johnny Occos. He came north for the better paydays.

At Thursday’s weigh-in, Adrian Vargas poses for photos. Photo: Jim Wyatt

Even though I was asked to temper my remarks; keep Adrian Vargas under the radar, how can I? Vargas is special and if you ask anybody who knows boxing in San Diego, they’re going to tell you the same thing. After an outstanding amateur career, both here and in Mexico, Vargas is living his dream. When it comes to the sport, no boxer I know has such an imposing lineage. The list of relatives in the sport include, referee Joe Cortez (an uncle), Gaspar “Indio” Ortega who won 131 fights and was inducted into the Hall of Fame (uncle), boxing judge and referee Mike Ortega (cousin), all three brothers fought, Francesco Vargas, etc.

Last but not least, the fight with the most interesting storyline involves light-heavyweight Gene Olverson who is making his pro debut at 42 years of age. Having the livelier legs, exhibiting the sharper and more powerful punches and demonstrating a command of pace will get you the win every time, but how is this going to happen when the other boxer is 19 years younger?

Olverson’s opponent is a fierce Mixed Martial Artist by the name of A. J. Matthews who lives in Carlsbad but now trains at the Alliance Training Center in Chula Vista. Like Olverson, Matthews is making his pro boxing debut. In the cage, his record is 4-0. In the boxing ring, it’s 2-0. When asked about competing in both Boxing and MMA, Matthews replied: “What the heck, let’s do everything!”

Olverson, who stands 6’3” tall, is just as whimsical. More than 20 years ago, he fought seven amateur bouts, winning four, losing three. The three he lost were to the same guy, Michael Sims, a National Golden Gloves Champion who later qualified as an alternate on the U. S. Olympic Team. Ever since that time, he’s wondered, what if.

Gene Olverson of the Wild Card Gym in Los Angeles has waited 20 plus years for this day. Photo: Jim Wyatt

Three years ago, after going through a difficult divorce, he made his return to boxing. When he went for his physical the woman testing him erred and claimed he had a bad ticker. To prove that the lady was mistaken, he had to spend a ton of money and go through a lot of red tape. Then for Friday’s bout, his debut, the promoter wanted him to come down from 190 pounds to make the catch weight of 175 pounds. In order to lose the 15 pounds, he went two solid days without any food or water. Thursday, looking quite drained, Olverson made that catch weight.

“I’ll be ready,” said Olverson. “I know all the tricks. Like, ‘Hey buddy, your shoes are untied.’ I’ll be living out my dream.”

Two other local boxers, Pablo Armenta of the Gutierrez Gym and Emmanuel Robles of Old School Boxing, showed up at the weigh-in but their scheduled opponents didn’t. They will have to wait until tomorrow to see if the matchmaker can come through with an alternate opponent.

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