By: Hector Franco
This upcoming weekend two Super Featherweight titles will be on the line in the state of California. Further cementing the new era’s boxing divide amongst promoters, networks and now streaming services WBA “Super” 130-pound champion Gervonta Davis (20-0, 19 KOs) will be defending his title against Hugo Ruiz in Carson, California and “Regular” WBA 130-pound champion Alberto Machado (21-0, 17 KOs) will be defending his title against Andrew Cancio (19-4-2, 14 KOs).
The fact is that Machado and Davis should be fighting each other to determine who is the real WBA 130-pound champion. Regardless, Machado will be attempting to make his third straight title defense. Machado who hails from Rios Piedras, Puerto Rico is one of the three current male Puerto Rican boxing champions. The list includes WBO Light Flyweight champion Angel Acosta and IBF Bantamweight champion Emmanuel Rodriguez. The man known as “El Explosivo” is one of the tallest 130-pounders in the sport standing at 5’10 with a 72-inch reach to accompany his southpaw stance. In his previous title defense, he was able to showcase his tremendous punching power by scoring a first-round knockout against Yuandale Evans on the undercard of Daniel Jacobs’ IBF middleweight title win over Sergiy Derevyanchenko.
Machado’s opponent Cancio has struggled with consistently staying active for large portions of his career. Cancio is a single father who currently works full-time for the Southern California Gas Company. Cancio did not fight in all of 2010 and 2017 including fighting just once in 2013, 2014 and 2015. At this point of his career, Cancio has faced tougher competition than Machado including facing the likes of Rocky Juarez, Jerry Belmontes, Ronny Rios, and Joseph Diaz.
Following Cancio’s stoppage loss to Diaz in September 2016, he made his return in April 2018. The California native took on highly touted prospect and decorated amateur Aidar Sharibayev in a bout that not many gave him a chance to win. In one of the most significant upsets of that year, Cancio was able to drop the Kazakhstani fighter in the third and fifth rounds in route to a 10th round stoppage victory. Cancio followed his victory over Sharibayev with a ten-round unanimous decision over Albania’s Dardan Zenunaj last August.
The fighter known as “El Chango” was not expecting to return to boxing and get a title opportunity as quickly as he did. Looking at how much trouble and determination he has shown in his bouts in the past, Machado will have his hands full on Saturday night.
Observing the Puerto Rican’s physical dimensions, it is unclear as to how long he will remain in the Super Featherweight division. Should Machado move up to the Lightweight division, he will have fighters such as Vasyl Lomachenko, Richard Commey and fellow countrymen Jose Pedraza awaiting him. It will be interesting to see how Machado fairs against the other champions at Super Featherweight such as Miguel Berchelt, Tevin Farmer and Masayuki Ito.
The main supporting bout for the card will feature another championship bout as WBC Super Bantamweight champion Rey Vargas (32-0, 22 KOs) will be attempting to make his fourth successful title defense against Venezuela’s Franklin Manzanilla. Vargas won his title in February 2017 when he traveled to the United Kingdom to take on Gavin McDonnell. The Mexico native was able to pull off the upset victory with a majority decision. Since winning the title, Vargas has gone one to score three dominant victories including wins over Ronny Rios, Oscar Negrete, and Azat Hovhannisyan.
Vargas’ opponent, Manzanilla earned his title opportunity by defeating Mexico’s Julio Ceja in May 2018 after four rounds of action. The Venezuelan puncher was brought in for Ceja to get some rounds and stay sharp while he awaited a title fight. At 30 years of age, Manzanilla will be making his United States debut against the best opponent of his career.
As we have seen throughout boxing history upsets can happen on any night. We saw earlier this year when Manzanilla’s fellow Venezuelan countryman Jorge Linares was upset with a first-round stoppage at the hands of Pablo Cesar Cano. While not much is known about Manzanilla, he at the very least has a punchers chance against Vargas.
The card will take place at the Fantasy Springs Casino in Indio, California. The show will be streamed on DAZN at 9 PM ET/6 PM PT