BY ANSON WAINWRIGHT
European junior middleweight champion Sergio Garcia puts his title on the line for the second time when he faces the usually sturdy former titleholder Siarhei Rabchanka at the Polideportivo Vicente Trueba, Torrelavega, Spain, on Saturday.
Garcia (29-0, 13 knockouts) won the vacant belt last September when he outpointed Maxime Beaussire before making his first defense earlier this year when he traveled to England to best previously unbeaten Ted Cheeseman.
Now “El Nino” is back at home and looking forward to performing for his fans.
“I am very happy because this is a very big fight in front of my people,” Garcia told The Ring through Oscar Zardain. “This is very important for me to box in front of my people. I have a lot of fans supporting me. After the London fight, I am very happy and grateful with Maravillabox Promotions for this chance.
“I need to know if I am at the top level or not and Rabchanka is the perfect test. I have a lot of respect for him.”
The 26-year-old Spaniard is well aware of what Rabchanka brings to the table.
“He has a very good technique and he is more experienced than me at this level,” he said. “He was a solid European champion also. But I feel stronger than him and I think that my physical condition and my handspeed will be the keys to bring the victory.”
Rabchanka (29-4, 22 KOs) turned professional in 2006. The Belarus-born boxer won his first 25 fights, claiming the EBU crown before dropping a controversial decision to Anthony Mundine for a WBC regional belt in Australia in 2014. Since then, his activity level has dropped and he’s gone a spotty 4-3, losing when he’s stepped up to current WBC kingpin Tony Harrison and more recently Kell Brook and Ismail Iliev. Rabchanka, 33, last won two years ago, beating a fighter with an 8-14-2 mark.
Garcia feels fighting away from home has been good for him going forward.
“It was a big experience,” he said. “I am used to boxing in front a big crowd here in my city of Torrelavega, but against Cheeseman it was different. He was very brave and we made a big fight. I hope to come back soon to the UK.”
He is firmly focused on the task in hand, spending eight weeks preparing in Torrelavega, but has hopes of fighting for the world title in the future. He is currently ranked No. 2 by the WBC and No. 10 by the WBO.
“I would like to fight against [WBO champion Jaime] Munguia, he is young and strong like me,” Garcia said. “I want to fight against [WBC titlist] Tony Harrison, too. I think that I will be ready after the Rabchanka fight.”
Former two-division world champion-turned-promoter Sergio Martinez, who hails from Argentina, but is actively involved as a promoter in Spain, held world titles at 154 and 160 pounds. He knows that victory could set Garcia on a similar path.
“[Garcia] is a very good kid, we are very happy with him,” said Martinez. “He is skilled and against Cheeseman he showed that he can beat anybody outside of Spain.
“He is very professional and we hope that he can fight for the world title soon.”