After defeating James Stevenson in Chicago in late April, North Bergen resident Roberto “La Amenaza” Garcia is not waiting around for his next big chance in the boxing world.
The 35-year-old Garcia is climbing back into the ring next Saturday night at the MGM Grand Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, taking on undefeated Errol Spence, Jr. in a 10-round welterweight bout as part of the NBC’s Premier Boxing Champions, televised nationally on NBC Sports Net.
The Garcia-Spence bout is the prelim to the highly anticipated super lightweight showdown between Adrien Broner and Shawn Porter. The action begins on NBC Sports Net at 8:30 p.m.
Garcia, also nicknamed “AMZ,” knows that there was a short turnaround from his win over Stevenson, an eight-round unanimous decision for his ninth straight victory.
“It’s not too tough,” Garcia said about the quick return to the ring. “It’s just another fight and another way to get where I want to be. The last fight wasn’t a hard one on my body. It was a good win. I took off maybe five days at the most, then got back at it. I like to stay active. I knew that they [Gary Shaw Promotions] had some big plans for me, but I didn’t know when the next fight would be. I just came right back.”
Garcia has been training daily with Hoboken’s Butch Sanchez to prepare for the fight against Spence, Jr., who will take a 16-0 record into the ring against “AMZ,” who is now 37-3 in his storied career.
“I like being busy and going non-stop,” Garcia said. “The next step is important to me. I never look ahead to other fights. I concentrate on this one that is in front of me. It’s June 20 and nothing else.”
However, Garcia knows that a victory here could lead to major paychecks in the future. Already getting his second chance to fight on national television (the Stevenson fight was on Spike TV), Garcia is well on his way to possibly fighting for a championship if everything goes right.
“I feel good and that’s important,” Garcia said. “I’ve been working on some different things. I learned a couple of things from the last fight and picked up a couple of things that you need. It’s really a blessing to get this shot. The energy of it and the excitement is amazing. The reality of it is that I’m not supposed to be here.”
Garcia fought off the demons that nearly destroyed him and now he’s getting a chance to make up for all the time he lost over the years. Here’s that next step…
Three years ago, Kelvin Almonte might not have known what a hurdle actually was, but now, the Memorial senior is one of the most decorated hurdlers in Hudson County history.
Almonte took second last week in the 400-meter hurdles at the NJSIAA Meet of Champions, crossing the line in 53.15 seconds. It’s currently the seventh fastest time in the event in the entire country.
Almonte was once a baseball and basketball player who decided to give track a chance a few years ago.
“Coach [Julio] Lopez took one look at me and said, ‘You can be a hurdler,’” Almonte said. “I said, `What are hurdles?’ I didn’t know. I jumped the hurdle the first day and I wasn’t really good at it.”
But Almonte is certainly good at it now, as he prepares for the United States Track and Field High School Nationals at the University of North Carolina A&T next weekend.
“We’re working with him, because we found he was leaning too far forward,” Lopez said. “We fixed the problem and look what he’s done. I had coaches tell me [at the Meet of Champs] that he was the best hurdler they saw. It’s amazing.”
“I am really surprised and really excited,” Almonte said. “I really can’t believe it. I’m just getting ready for the nationals and see what happens. I’m still not satisfied. I can get better. I just want to break my time [53.15] once again.”
It truly is an amazing story…
There are two huge events taking place over the next two weekends involving North Bergen natives who have both had a chance to play at their respective professional pinnacle level.
First, North Bergen native Evan Rodriguez, the former Hudson Reporter Athlete of the Year who has spent time in the NFL with a handful of teams, is holding a free football clinic at the North Bergen Recreation Center and Stan Newman Field this Saturday (June 13) for boys and girls ages 6-15 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Registration for the camp begins at 9 a.m.
Rodriguez will head to training camp with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers next month. He spent two years with the Chicago Bears, then had stints with the Miami Dolphins and Buffalo Bills before hooking on with the Bucs late last season.
To register for the camp, log on to https://fundamentals2015.ezwaiver.com/Evan-Rodriguez-Youth-Football-Camp…
Then, North Bergen’s Kyle Anderson, the former St. Anthony All-American who played at UCLA and just completed his rookie season with the San Antonio Spurs of the NBA, is hosting the first “Celebrate Life Day” Basketball Clinic and Tournament in Cliffside Park at School No. 6.
Anderson is hosting the event to draw attention to suicide prevention. Anderson lost a good childhood friend, Paul Kim, last fall to suicide.
The day-long event begins at 9 a.m., with Anderson showing youngsters from sixth through eighth grades skills to enhance their shooting, dribbling and passing skills. There will also be a tournament for older players that will begin at 1 p.m.
For more information about fees and such for the event, log onto www.friendsofpaulkim.org. Proceeds from the event will go toward the establishment of mandatory high school seminars for students that focus on suicide prevention and awareness…
Congrats to Secaucus athletic director Charlie Voorhees for being selected as the New Jersey Interscholastic Conference Athletic Director of the Year. It’s a great honor for the hard-working and dedicated Voorhees, one that was certainly well deserved…
New Jersey City University presented former Marist basketball standout Ashley Vazquez with the Dennis Goodson Memorial Award at the school’s annual athletic banquet. Vazquez was a two-year standout for the Gothic Knights before injuries ended her playing days. The award is presented to the player who best displays team loyalty, dedication, competitive spirit, academic achievement and demonstration of leadership.
Vazquez joins other local standouts to receive the Goodson Award like former Academy of St. Aloysius standout and current local coach Erika Cubile (2005), current St. Peter’s Prep head coach Alex Mirabel (2007) and former St. Mary’s of Jersey City star Josh Lopez (2008). Goodson died tragically in 2002 at the age of 36 after developing a blood clot…
Final Hudson Reporter High School Baseball Top Five: 1. St. Peter’s Prep (26-3). 2. Memorial (16-8). 3. Weehawken (21-9). 4. Marist (17-12). 5. Hudson Catholic (14-11)…
Final Hudson Reporter High School Softball Top Five: 1. North Bergen (21-8). 2. Bayonne (18-5). 3. Hudson Catholic (16-5). 4. St. Dominic Academy (17-8). 5. Secaucus (16-11).–Jim Hague
Jim Hague can be reached at OGSMAR@aol.com.