Top featherweights to fight key bouts
One of the top featherweights of the present, titleholder Yuriorkis Gamboa, and perhaps one of the future, Miguel Angel "Mikey" Garcia, will both be in action March 26 on an HBO "Boxing After Dark" doubleheader at the Adrian Phillips Ballroom at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, N.J.
Gamboa will defend his 126-pound belts against Mexico's Jorge Solis, an interim junior lightweight titleholder who will drop down four pounds to challenge Gamboa, on the card that Top Rank is in the process of finalizing.
Garcia, already in a mandatory position for one of Gamboa's titles, will face Matt Remillard, who will be taking a big step up in competition on the card being hosted by Caesars Atlantic City.
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Gamboa (19-0, 15 KOs), the 29-year-old 2004 Cuban Olympic gold medalist who defected and is now based in Miami, will make his fifth title defense. He unified belts in September by outpointing Orlando Salido.
Gamboa has been on a collision course with fellow beltholder Juan Manuel Lopez, who is also with Top Rank. But Top Rank chief Bob Arum has kept them apart while continuing to build both of them.
Solis (40-2-2, 29 KOs), 31, has fought his last three bouts -- all interim title bouts -- at 130 pounds and should test Gamboa.
"He's a bigger guy, but he make 126 comfortably," Top Rank's Carl Moretti said. "Regardless of what people want to say, Gamboa is still in the learning stages. Just because Solis isn't the most well-recognized name, you will see a guy who can hang with Gamboa and a guy who has a chance to beat him."
Solis hasn't fought at featherweight since losing a decision challenging then-titlist Cristobal Cruz in July 2009.
American boxing fans probably know Solis best from an eighth-round knockout loss to Manny Pacquiao in a 2007 junior lightweight bout.
The 23-year-old Garcia (24-0, 20 KOs), of Oxnard, Calif., is on the verge of a title fight, but Remillard (23-0, 13 KOs), 24, of Manchester, Conn., stands in his way.
Top Rank signed Remillard to a promotional contract on Monday.
"It's a very, very solid fight," Cameron Dunkin, Garcia's manager, said. "It's a tough fight. The winner of this fight is really going to come out with big plans to become a champion. I talked to Mikey's trainer [and brother] Robert [Garcia], and he was fine with the fight. But he said, 'It's a really tough fight, but it's something Mikey has to do if he's going to be a world champion.' I agree with him about that."
Said Moretti: "I think it's a great opportunity for both guys. I don't know which guy is going to have his hand raised at the end of the fight, but they are both winners for taking this kind of risk, which is what happens when you match up two undefeated guys. I think regardless of what happens, both of their careers will move forward."
If Garcia wins, he could challenge for a title on June 11 on the undercard of a proposed Miguel Cotto-Antonio Margarito rematch, which is Top Rank's plan as long as Cotto defeats Ricardo Mayorga on March 12.
Another fight on the card, which won't be part of HBO's telecast, will feature a pair of junior featherweight prospects who have regional appeal and have fought numerous times in Atlantic City: Jorge Diaz (15-0, 9 KOs) of New Brunswick, N.J., against Philadelphia's Teon Kennedy (16-0-1, 7 KOs).
Moretti said HBO would likely show highlights of the fight.
Dan Rafael covers boxing for ESPN.com. Follow him on Twitter.