HBO’s first boxing show of 2013 certainly did not disappoint.
Promoted by Top Rank and K2, with no conflicting fight card from Golden Boy Promotion’s and Showtime for what seemed like the first time in ages, had three world title bouts on the card.
The opening bout was a classic Puerto Rico vs. Mexico matchup for Rocky Martinez’s WBO super featherweight title.
Throughout the fight, Mexico’s Juan Carlos Burgos (30-1, 20KOs) and Puerto Rico’s Martinez (26-1-1, 16KOs) fought the way that you’d expect warriors from the two boxing-crazed countries would until the final bell.
Fight’s like Martinez vs. Burgos are what HBO's Boxing After Dark is all about, evenly matched fights that could go either way depending on what you like and how you score fights.
Although the fight ultimately ended in a draw, which drew a ton of boo’s from the pro-Puerto Rico crowd at Madison Square Garden, it wasn’t as bad as the HBO announce team made it out to be.
In what could have been the main event of the evening, Gennady Golovkin (24-0, 21KOs), who was the best kept secret in boxing, defended his WBA middleweight title against Philly tough guy Gabriel Rosado (21-5, 13KOs).
On paper, and in the eyes of many boxing observers, the fight was a mismatch when it was announced. But Rosado is a true throwback fighter and believed he could win whether or not anyone else did.
The fight was better than expected.
Rosado showed the fighting spirit that Philly fighters are known for. His face showed the effects of the heavy-handed Golovkin when he was cut around the left eye.
When his corner threw in the towel Rosado’s face was a bloody mess, but there was no shame in losing to Golovkin, a fighter who is surely going to be a pound-for-pound stalwart for years to come.
The main event of the evening pitted Mexican-American Miguel “Mikey” Garcia against WBO featherweight titleholder Orlando Salido.
Garcia (30-0, 26KOs) dropped his much more experienced foe twice in the opening round with left hands and seemed as though it would be an early night.
In Round 3, Garcia was credited with a third knockdown when a left hand caused Salido’s glove to touch the canvass. Round 4 saw Salido taste the canvass for the fourth time.
Garcia dominated the fight until the bout was stopped in Round 8.
Even though the fight ended in a bizarre fashion, an accidental headbutt broke Garcia's nose and caused the fight to go to the scorecards, it was still fun to watch the coming-out party of the future of the featherweight division.
Tonight had blood, knockdowns and strange scorecards—it was boxing.
If the rest of the boxing on HBO is half as good as what I saw tonight, I think that we are in for a great year as fight fans.