NEW YORK (August 27, 2009) – Undefeated world champions JUAN MANUEL “JuanMa” LOPEZ and YURIORKIS GAMBOA will be serving shots of tropical punch when they defend their titles, in separate fights, headlining “Island Warriors: Latin Fury 12,” Saturday, October 10, broadcast Live on Pay-Per-View from the WaMu Theater in the “Mecca of Boxing,” Madison Square Garden. Lopez will be defending his World Boxing Organization (WBO) junior featherweight title against top contender and Tanzania native ROGERS MTAGWA. Gamboa will be defending his World Boxing Association (WBA) featherweight belt against Panamanian strongman WHYBER GARCIA. The televised portion of this boxing extravaganza will begin at 9 p.m. ET / 6 p.m. PT with two exciting 10-round bouts – undefeated Top-10 heavyweight contenders ODLANIER SOLIS of Cuba against KEVIN JOHNSON of Asbury Park, NJ, and world-rated super welterweight contenders VANES MARTIROSYAN of Glendale, Calif. against CARLOS NASCIMENTO of Brazil. These eight sluggers boast a combined record of 174-19-3 (125 KOs), a winning percentage of 89% and a victory by knockout ratio of 72%. 2008 Russian Olympian MATT KOROBOV will also be featured, on the non-televised undercard in a six-round middleweight bout.
Promoted by Top Rank, in association with Arena Boxing U.S. and PR Best Boxing, tickets to “Island Warriors: Latin Fury 12,” priced at $250, $150, $75 and $50, go on sale Tomorrow! August 28, at Noon ET, and can be purchased at the Madison Square Garden box office, all Ticketmaster outlets, and online at www.thegarden.com.
“The Latin Fury series is taking the next big step as it makes its debut at the “Mecca of Boxing” featuring the next generation of Hispanic superstars in JuanMa and Yuriorkis,” said promoter Bob Arum. “Latin icons like Roberto Duran and Felix Trinidad in the past and now Miguel Cotto, who has sold more tickets to The Garden than any other fighter in this millennium, have solidified their international popularity by fighting before standing room only crowds of rabid fans at The Garden. The atmosphere will be incredible when JuanMa moves up and takes on Yuriorkis.”
Lopez (26-0, 24 KOs), from Caguas, Puerto Rico, is in the second year of his world title reign, which began on June 7, 2008 when he ended the three-year tenure of defending champion Daniel Ponce De Leon via a first-round knockout. Lopez, already a Top-10 pound for pound favorite, has successfully defended his title four times since, all by knockout, extending his victory by stoppage streak to 14. He was named Puerto Rico’s 2008 “Fighter of the Year” where he went 4-0, (4 KOs), including three first-round knockouts, all in world championship fights. Looking to repeat, he returns to the ring for the third time in 2009, having stopped two-time world champion Gerry Peñalosa and undefeated North American Boxing Association (NABA) super bantamweight champion Olivier Lontchi in 10 and 9 rounds, respectively this year.
Mtagwa (26-12-2, 18 KOs), a native of Dodoma, Tanzania has made Philadelphia, Penn., his base since moving to the U.S. in 2000. The former African Boxing Union super bantamweight champion has incrementally advanced his career by fighting and defeating some of the best competition at 122 and 126 pounds. Career highlights include winning the vacant U.S. Boxing Association (USBA) featherweight title in 2005 via a 10th-round TKO of Joe Morales. He successfully defended the title twice, knocking out Art Simonyan and Alvin Brown, both in the fourth round. His come-from-behind 10th-round TKO victory over Tomas Villas last year, ending Villa’s three-year, 12-bout unbeaten streak, was considered a 2008 Fight of the Year candidate.
Currently world-rated No. 6 by the International Boxing Federation (IBF) and No. 15 by the WBO, Mtagwa is trained by Bobby “Boogaloo” Watts, one of only three men to have beaten Marvelous Marvin Hagler.
Gamboa (15-0, 13 KOs), a native of Guantanamo who now hails from Miami, Fla., has been considered one of boxing’s brightest lights dating back to his amateur days, which included winning Olympic gold at the 2004 games. Since making his professional debut in 2007, Gamboa has sought – and defeated – the toughest and most experienced opposition available.
In only his second year as a professional he collected the NABF and WBC International super featherweight titles and then moved down in weight to collect the NABO featherweight title in three consecutive fights, with victories over Johnnie Edwards, Darling Jimenez and Al Seeger, respectively, destroying Edwards and Seeger in the first round while winning a 10-round unanimous decision over Jimenez. He captured the WBA featherweight title in his last fight knocking out four-time world title challenger Jose Rojas in the 10th round on April 17. The two-fisted Cuban KO artist boasts a lethal combination of power and speed, an amateur background second to none (he is a four-time Gold Medal winner in the Cuban National Championships) and a victory by knockout ratio that’s on par with JuanMa Lopez.
Garcia (22-6, 15 KOs), from Panama City, Panama, has an exciting and aggressive style as well as being a fan favorite. He enters this fight having won four of his last five fights. The lone blemish, a tough world title loss to WBA super featherweight champion Jorge Linares last year. He has won WBA Latin American titles at 126 and 130 pounds as well as the NABA featherweight title. He is currently world-rated No. 13 by the WBA.
Solis (14-0, 10 KOs), a native of Havana, Cuba, now based in Miami, Fla., was a teammate of Gamboa when he won the 2004 Olympic Gold Medal and followed that feat with the super heavyweight gold mead at the 2005 World Championships. He was known as the successor to the legendary Cuban heavyweight Felix Savon after defeating Savon two of the three times they fought each other. Other notable amateur victories for Solis include a third-round stoppage of David Haye in the finals of the 2001 World Championships. He enters this fight having won his last four bouts by knockout, including two for the WBC International title, with victories over Chauncy Welliver and Kevin Burnett in October and January, respectively. He is currently world-rated No. 7 by the WBC.
Johnson (22-0-1, 9 KOs), of Asbury Park, NJ, is considered on of the top U.S. heavyweight prospects. He enters this fight off his most impressive victory, a sixth-round stoppage of previous undefeated contender Devin Vargas, the 2004 U.S. Olympic boxing team captain, in May. After dropping Vargas twice and dictating the fight with his powerful jab, Johnson finished the job in the sixth round when his corner threw in the towel. It was Johnson’s third consecutive knockout victory, seen nationally on ESPN Friday Night Fights, propelling him up the world ratings where he is currently ranked No. 6 by the WBC and WBA and No. 9 by the WBO.
Martirosyan (25-0, 16 KOs), a native of Armenia now living in Glendale, Calif., returns to the ring reunited with Hall of Fame trainer Freddie Roach. Known as “The Nightmare,” the 2004 U.S. Olympian, whose amateur resume boasts victories over world champions Andre Berto and Timothy Bradley, is on the verge of breaking through professionally in the competitive super welterweight division, where he is currently word-rated No. 10 by the IBF and No. 13 by the World Boxing Council (WBC).
He returns to the ring fresh from a sixth-round TKO of Andrey Tsurkan in June, an impressive victory considering Tsurkan had won seven of his previous nine bouts including two NABF super welterweight title fight knockouts of Hector Camacho, Jr. and Sammy Sparkman.
Nascimento (22-1, 18 KOs), of Sao Paulo, Brazil, enters this fight riding a six-fight winning streak, five by knockout. A trophy case that displays Brazilian, WBO Latino and WBC Latino junior middleweight titles, his only professional blemish is a 2007 world title loss to undefeated WBO junior middleweight champion Sergiiy Dzinziruk. Nascimento is currently world-rated No. 18 by the WBC.
Korobov (7-0, 6 KOs), a native or Orotukan, Russia, now based in Lantana, Fla., is trained by former world champion Robert Garcia, who also trains world champions Steven Luevano and Brian Villoria. A two-time World Amateur Champion and a member of Russia’s 2008 Olympic team, Korobov will be making his third appearance at The Garden where he has developed a strong fan base from his countrymen living in nearby Brighton Beach. He will be fighting in a six-round middleweight bout against an opponent to be named soon.
The “Island Warriors: Latin Fury 12” pay-per-view telecast, beginning at 9 p.m. ET / 6 p.m. PT, has a suggested retail price of $39.95. The telecast will be available in HD-TV for those viewers who can receive HD. For “Island Warriors: Latin Fury 12” fight week updates, log on to www.toprank.com.
JUAN MANUEL LOPEZ
“I would love to develop the following here in New York that I have in Puerto Rico.
Regarding a future Gamboa fight and fighting on the same card…”I think it’s important for people to get to know both of us and we both get bigger. We sparred in France before the Olympics. It wasn’t friendly sparring, we went at it pretty good. I got to watch him in a lot of amateur tournaments also. We never fought each other in those but we got to see each other often. I know there are other fights that people talk about but I only concentrate on my next opponent in my next fight.”
Gaining experience? “You can always learn something new in boxing but I am a professional and will fight anyone in the world.”
Tinidad…”I am honored to be compared to Felix Trinidad. He was my idol growing up and I would love to achieve the things he did. I spoke tot Tito last week and he was telling me, ‘you win your fights in the gym. If you don’t train hard, you can’t expect to win the fight.’”
“On October 10 I will realize my dream of fighting at Madison Square Garden, and it is sooner than I planned. I am very excited to be fighting here. Even though Mtagwa doesn’t have the great record I know he is dangerous. I not only promise that I win on the 10th, but I will knock him out.”
“This is what I’ve been working for my whole career – a chance to fight for the world title and to be able to fight at Madison Square Garden. I am going to do everything possible to win this fight.”
“Given that Madison Square Garden has great history it is an honor to fight here and it is great that they bring in young champions to let us be a part of that history. I am going to come in at my best and I promise everyone will see a great show on October 10.”
“I have seen and fought against different fighters from all over the world and can adapt to any style. (My greatest asset is) My combination of speed, quick reflexes and my intelligence in the ring. My job is not to knockout my opponent but to win by exhibiting my skills. Yes, I have had obstacles along the way since turing pro, but I have been able to overcome them and be successful.”
Cuban boxing…”It is a great tradition and a lot of confidence in the system. The torch keeps getting passed along. We get to meet the great fighters that we have look up to our whole lives, and we get to train with them also.”
“On October 10 I plan to win then make some noise in this division. I will be coming in tip-top shape and with the help of my trainers will be using everything at mu disposal to get the win.”