Lem’s Corner: Mikey Garcia eager to end lengthy ring absence next month

Former two-division champion Mikey Garcia will make his long-awaited return to the ring July 30 when he faces former 126-pound titleholder Elio Rojas.

Mikey Garcia

Former 126- and 130-pound world champion Mikey Garcia is returning to the ring against Elio Rojas on July 30 in his first fight since January 2014.

The fight at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York, will be the first for Garcia (34-0, 28 KOs) since January 2014, when he won a unanimous decision over Juan Carlos Burgos at Madison Square Garden. Since that bout, Garcia—a past champion at 126 and 130 pounds—has been on the sidelines because of a legal battle with his promoter.

Rojas (24-2, 14 KOs) is also returning from a lengthy layoff, having last fought in August 2014 when he won a unanimous decision over Robert Osiobe. That’s Rojas’ only action since April 2012, when he dropped a unanimous decision to then 126-pound champion Jhonny Gonzalez.

Garcia and Rojas will do battle on the undercard of 126-pound champion Leo Santa Cruz’s title defense against ex-122-pound titleholder Carl Frampton on Showtime (9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. ET).

“New York’s always shown a lot of love, support and treated me well,” said Mikey Garcia, a 28-year-old lifelong Southern California resident. “This is the next stage of my career, and I’ll be remembered for what I do from this point forward as opposed to the past.

“For this fight, we’ll be at somewhere around 135 [pounds], 136, no higher than 140. I do want to fight for the title at 135, maybe against [England’s] Terry Flanagan, then fight for a title at 140. I want this one fight before going after a title. I’m ready.”

Adonis Stevenson

Adonis Stevenson has been working on his mobility as he prepares to defend his 175-pound world title against Thomas Williams Jr. on July 29. (Dave Nadkarni/Premier Boxing Champions)

STEVENSON PLANS TO STICK AND MOVE AGAINST WILLIAMS

Adonis Stevenson (27-1, 22 KOs) will be less than two months away from his 39th birthday when he defends his 175-pound title on July 29 against fellow southpaw Thomas Williams Jr. (20-1, 14 KOs) in Quebec City.

But age isn’t about to stop Stevenson from displaying a lot of mobility in the ring against Williams.

“My legs are in shape. I can box and move,” said Stevenson, who will be making the seventh defense of his title. “I’ll be able to bang or box, whatever it takes to win.”

Williams, 28, is coming off his biggest win to date, a sensational second-round knockout of Edwin Rodriguez (28-2, 19 KOs) on April 30, a finish that flattened a man whose only other loss was by unanimous decision to then-world champion Andre Ward in a 168-pound title fight in November 2013.

Meanwhile, Stevenson has won 14 straight fights, 12 by knockout, since suffering his only defeat, a second-round stoppage against Darnell Boone in April 2010.

Stevenson’s string of recent victories includes a sixth-round knockout of Boone in March 2013, as well as unanimous decisions over Andrzej Fonfara in May 2014 and former 168-pound champion Sakio Bika in April 2015.

Stevenson has been out of action since September, when he knocked out southpaw Tommy Karpency in the third round.

“The ring absence won’t affect me, because I’ve been training constantly,” Stevenson said. “I know [Williams is] going to come hard like he did in his last fight. I’m taking him very seriously.”

Jarrett Hurd and Oscar Molina

Jarrett Hurd dominated undefeated Oscar Molina on Saturday en route to a 10th-round TKO victory. Now 18-0, Hurd is rapidly rising in the loaded 154-pound division. (Ryane Greene/Premier Boxing Champions)

JARRETT HURD: ‘I SHOWED I COULD DO IT ALL’

Unbeaten 154-pound contender Jarrett Hurd already was in the spotlight in his nationally televised match with Oscar Molina on Saturday’s undercard of the Keith Thurman-Shawn Porter title clash at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York.

That spotlight got a little brighter when division rivals Erickson Lubin (15-0, 11 KOs) and Demetrius Andrade (23-0, 16 KOs) took their seats ringside, where they watched the 25-year-old Hurd put on a masterful performance.

Hurd (18-0, 12 KOs) dropped the 26-year-old Molina (13-1-1, 10 KOs) with a right uppercut in the first round, and was pummeling the undefeated 2012 Olympian when referee Ricky Gonzalez halted the bout at the 2:02 mark of the 10th and final round. It was Hurd’s fourth consecutive TKO win and his sixth stoppage victory in his last seven outings.

“I knew they were in the building,” Hurd said of Lubin and Andrade, who also posted stoppage victories earlier this month. “I wanted to show that I don’t have just one style. I showed I could do it all.”

What did the 20-year-old Lubin make of Hurd’s efforts?

“He has a good uppercut,” Lubin said. “He should use his feet a bit more and throw in combinations.”

Hurd said he hopes his impressive showing will vault him into the title conversation in a loaded division featuring champions Jermall Charlo (24-0, 18 KOs), Jermell Charlo (28-0, 13 KOs) and Erislandy Lara (23-2-2, 13 KOs), as well as top-ranked challengers Lubin, Andrade and Julian Williams (20-0-1, 14 KOs).

“People wanted to know how I would react with someone pressuring and in [my] chest, and I wanted to show that I could get rough, take a punch and go to toe-to-toe,” Hurd said. “I also showed I could stay on the outside and jab, that I could counterpunch and that I’m a multi-dimensional fighter. I answered a lot of questions on Saturday.”

Daniel Jacobs

Daniel Jacobs, who is coming off a swift first-round knockout of unbeaten Peter Quillin in December, is hoping to secure a title unification match against fellow 160-pound champion Gennady Golovkin. (Lucas Noonan/Premier Boxing Champions)

JACOBS WANTS A PIECE OF GGG

Daniel Jacobs (31-1, 28 KOs) longs for a career-defining 160-pound title unification bout against Gennady Golovkin (35-0, 32 KOs).

Golovkin, who is widely regarded as the top pound-for-pound fighter in boxing, has stopped his past 22 opponents and made 16 title defenses of his 160-pound crown, four of those at New York’s Madison Square Garden.

A native of Brownsville in Brooklyn, Jacobs has made three title defenses and scored 12 straight knockouts, the last being an 85-second stoppage of previously unbeaten former titleholder Peter Quillin (32-1-1, 23 KOs) at Barclays Center in December.

“I would like to fight Gennady in Brooklyn, but no matter where, it’s the biggest match of skillful middleweights that can happen,” said the 29-year-old Jacobs, whose lone blemish is a fifth-round TKO loss to Dmitry Pirog in July 2010.

“I know there are questions about some people doing business together, but I think it’s a situation that’s workable for the greater good of boxing.”

Lem’s Corner is published each Wednesday at PremierBoxingChampions.com.

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