“All the fights he’s taken since coming back have been tough guys which will lead to bigger opportunities. He knows the better the opponent the better the future opportunities will be for his family and he wants to have something to show for his boxing career,” relayed Garcia’s trainer Vince Parra.
The next stop in the sweet science renaissance of Aaron Garcia has him standing opposite 23-year-old Filipino two-time world title challenger Bernabe “The Real Deal” Concepcion (28-5-1, 15KOs), in a ten round main attraction for the vacant WBC Continental Americas Featherweight title at San Manuel Indian Bingo & Casino in San Bernardino, Ca., Thursday, October 27, presented by Manny Pacquiao’s MP Promotions and Top Rank.
The co-main event features an 8 round Flyweight scrap between 30-year-old Filipino Rodel “Kid Rapido” Mayol (29-5-2, 21KOs) of Los Angeles, CA., by way of Mandaue City, Cebu, PHIL., against 33-year-old Mexican Luis “Titi” Maldanado (36-7-1, 27KOs) of Mexicali, Baja California, MEX.
24-year-old southpaw Richie “Magnum” Mepranum (24-2-1, 5KOs) of Maasim, Sarangani, PHIL., locks horns with 26-year-old Rigoberto “Planchita” Casillas (2-5-1, KO) of Tijuana, Baja California, MEX., in a Super Flyweight 8.
Rounding out the card 21-year-old Alexander Flores (5-0, 3KOs) of Rowland Heights, CA., fights Phoenix, Arizona’s 32-year-old Chad Davis (4-9) in a 4 round Heavyweight tilt.
Aaron and Bernabe will need to bring forth their deepest intestinal fortitude as they are facing career defining moments on opposite ends of the spectrum. Aaron’s looking to brake into the big leagues while Bernabe’s on the verge of being demoted to the minor’s. With so much on the line the fight fans in Southern California can expect a high tempo encounter full of fistic fireworks as both these warriors apply a furious salvo.
Concepcion, of Binangonan, Rizal, PHIL., is a world class fighter who was beset with expectation’s of greatness akin to fellow countryman Manny Pacquiao. “The Real Deal” is far from filling those lofty expectations though as he’s unsuccessfully challenged for the WBO featherweight title twice. That said, Bernabe was a top ten featherweight for some time until he was ousted from the bracket when he lost for the second time in a row at the hands of journeyman Juan Carlos Martinez. Team Concepcion possibly perceive Garcia — with a young 10-2-2 record — as a safe fight to get their star back on track but a delve deeper into “El Gavilan’s” history as a fighter illustrates no easy task.
Garcia, who makes his home in Vista, CA., embarked on a professional boxing career in 2004 under Golden Boy Promotions and was expected to do great things after an exceptional amateur run where he picked up the National Golden Gloves title not once but twice. After a respectable 7-1 start Aaron ran into promotional difficulties and took some time away from the sport in 2006 but the ring was never far from his mind.
Garcia returned in 2008 winning two fights before finding himself less than happy about back-to-back draws in 2009 with Jesus Antonio Hernandez at the Doubletree Hotel in Ontario, CA., in fights Aaron knew he won. At the time Garcia was working with the Diaz brothers in Indio, CA., which is 70 miles from Aaron’s home in Vista. After making the dedicated drive time and time again to train with world class teachers and talent, the trips began to take their toll on the fighting family man and once again Garcia put his dreams on hold knowing that if it was meant to be it would be.
It wasn’t long after that that Garcia ran into up-and-coming trainer and friend Vince Parra, who also trains rising Filipino sensation Mercito “No Mercy” Gesta, and as they say the rest is history. Parra resides in San Diego and after talking a bit it only seemed fitting that the former boxing buddies unite for a run at the Featherweight strap and beyond.
In the trainer and fighter’s first bout together “El Gavilan” shocked many when he defeated highly respected prospect Alejandro Lopez (22-2, 7KOs), making the most of a golden opportunity and reminding the boxing community of his talents and desire to achieve what he believes to be his destiny. The scheduled 8 round tilt was on the under card of the Brandon Rios-Miguel Acosta WBA Lightweight title fight and due to time constraints the Garcia-Lopez contest was cut in-half to four rounds. Knowing he only had four rounds to show-and-prove Garcia unloaded with both talons in a monster of energy and took the young gun out with volume, pressure and accuracy.
The revival’s second stop saw Aaron and Vince make an aplomb but risky move traveling to Ontario, CA., to throw hands with unbeaten prospect and Ken Thompson boxer Abraham Lopez (15-0, 11KOs), on Abe’s home turf and under his promotional umbrella. Serving to confirm the trust Garcia and Parra have in one another’s abilities the fight had them returning to the scene of a crime, the earlier mentioned Doubletree Hotel where Aaron controversially drew twice with Jesus Antonio Hernandez in 2009, in another Thompson Boxing Promoted event.
Immediately the undefeated local fighter was under siege as Aaron dispersed more crosses than the Catholic church and had Abe Lopez back on his heels, separating him from his game plan and introducing the prospect to non-stop adversity. In a bona-fide thriller Lopez showed mettle and fought back but “El Gavilan” had him uncharacteristically fighting backwards much of the night. The back-and-forth was plentiful but it was Garcia whose non-stop bombs did more damage and had Lopez’s head on a swivel. Many ringside observers thought Aaron won the heated affair but the judges disagreed and Abe Lopez won a controversial majority decision. Though Aaron was defeated on that night sometimes you win when you lose and his efforts didn’t go unnoticed as Garcia was awarded an opportunity at an even more established prospect in the East Coast’s Matt “Sharp Shooter” Remillard (23-1, 13KOs), to be televised on FOX Sports.
Due to unfortunate personal issues Remillard had to pull out of the fight and some of the wind was taken out of Aaron’s sailing resurgence but not for long.
“It got me a little frustrated but not upset because I know how the game is, I was training hard and ready to crush this guy [Remillard]. I was so ready and my confidence was up prepared to go get victory in Jersey. It didn’t happen and I was like, ‘ah man,’ it bummed me out but it’s part of the game and understandable,” intoned Garcia adding, “They offered us a few fights from guys that we didn’t know anything about and we want to be ready for everything and train for it. Opportunities come and opportunities go, I just want to be ready for everything at this stage of my career.”
A short time thereafter the wave of good fortune persist when “El Gavilan” was presented with the biggest opportunity of his career in Bernabe “The Real Deal” Concepcion.
Aaron was enthusiastic when speaking on the fortunate event, “I’m very happy with this opportunity, Vince [trainer] is coming through like always and we’re excited and ready. I can’t wait until October 27th to have fun.”
Concepcion on the other hand desperately needs a victory and has to look good in doing so as he tries to preserve himself from the boxing pit of obscurity. As spoken of earlier Bernabe was routed in Puerto Rico by WBC featherweight champion [at the time] Juan Manuel Lopez in under six minutes. Concepcion did drop Lopez in the opening frame but it was neither here nor there as Lopez came thumping back to punish Bernabe with a second round knockout. On that night in July, 2010 Bernabe came to fight and was simply beat by a better man but what happened next makes you wonder if Concepcion has the heart to fulfill those once lofty expectations.
Nearly a year later on the eve of Pacquiao-Mosley in Las Vegas on the 6th of May, 2011, Bernabe fought stepping stone Juan Carlos Martinez (19-12-1, 12KOs) at the Mandalay Bay Events Center on ESPN’s “Friday Night Fights” and put forth what amounted to a non-effort. Though the scores presented a split decision loss for Bernabe that was being kind as Juan Carlos beat him easily. The sluggish, slow and out-of-sync Concepcion appeared present only to collect a check and now has the boxing community wondering if he is what we thought he was.
No matter his recent struggles Concepcion is a young, hard hitting world class talent whose back is against the wall and men in that position are hazardous.
Garcia knows this and expects Concepcion to come prepared stating, “I’m expecting the best Bernabe, he’s in a desperate situation. For sure I’m coming with my best so I know it will be a great fight.”
Concepcion will be a considerable step up in competition for Garcia and I asked Vince Parra what made him so confident his charge would come through triumphant on the 27th and the San Diego trainer’s explanation was as follows, “Aaron has vast amateur experience and is a very hungry fighter. I think he’s come into his own as a professional and he’s ready to take this step. He should be able to beat Bernabe based on his hunger and abilities, especially with some of the new tricks he’s picked up.”
When I touched on the subject of Bernabe’s punching power with Garcia and whether there was need for concern his reply was self assured, “I’m not worried, this is part of the game and boxing is what we do, so no, I’m not worried, not one bit. I’m in the best shape of my life and it will show on fight night when I’m victorious.”
Aaron Garcia is flush with confidence and always brings a spirited effort as he looks to use Bernabe Concepcion as a spring board to a Featherweight world title shot. If Concepcion enters the ring rigid and taut on Oct. 27 — with the skills and determination that diamond-chinned Aaron Garcia brings to the ring — the Pinoy pugilist could be in for a long night as the Mexican will look to make his hands heavy on Bernabe, taking him right back to a nightmarish May 6.