Top ranked American prospect Miguel Angel ”Mikey” Garcia faces his toughest test yet when he takes on dangerous Filipino Bernabe Concepcion in the early hours of Sunday morning on the Juan Manuel Lopez v Orlando Salido WBO featherweight championship rematch undercard at the Coliseo Roberto Clemente in San Juan, Puerto Rico.
Garcia comes from one of the most famous Mexican-American boxing dynasty’s and his co-trained by his father Eduardo and brother Robert, himself a former IBF super featherweight champion. Concepcion is managed by Manny Pacquiao, and is a two-time world title challenger who is looking to get back into the world’s top-ten. 
24-year-old Garcia [27-0 23 KOs] is currently ranked no.1 contender by the WBA and no.2 by the WBC and WBO. A poised, balanced fighter with smooth boxing skills and knockout power, Garcia appears to have the tools to not only get to the top, but to stay there for a long time. 
The current featherweight division is ultra competitive and features exciting fighters like Juan Manuel Lopez, Orlando Salido, Jhonny Gonzalez and Chris John. Featherweight superstar Yuriorkis Gamboa has signed to fight Brandon Rios at lightweight but could yet make a return to the division.
Just below them at junior featherweight are the deadly duo of Nonito Donaire and Guillermo Rigondeaux, two fighters blessed with sublime talent and devastating power that look destined to join the featherweight division within the next 18 months. All in all, it’s an exciting time to be a top-level featherweight boxer, and Garcia is tipped by many to become the best of the bunch.
He will certainly have a fight on his hands tonight when he takes on 24-year-old Bernabe Concepcion [29-5-1, 15 KOs], who despite losing three of his last five fights remains one of the most exciting fighters coming out of the Philippines today.
Concepcion dropped a couple of majority decisions in his first two years as a pro in his native country. He then went on a 20 bout unbeaten streak that led to a crack at WBO featherweight champion Steve Luevano of the US in 2009. Concepcion boxed well and was actually ahead on one of the scorecards when he hit Luevano with a huge right hand a full second after the bell to end round seven. The American went down hard, and referee Jay Nady decided he had seen enough and disqualified Concepcion despite the protests of his trainer Freddie Roach, who claimed his fighter had not heard the bell.
Concepcion bounced back with a points win over contender Mario Santiago, and then faced Juan Manuel Lopez, who had defeated Luevano for the title. In a sensational fight, Lopez hurt Concepcion early in the first round, then knocked him down and was on the verge of a stoppage victory when the Filipino pulled out a huge right-hand of his own to put the champion down. Unfortunately, the bell ended the round before Concepcion could capitalize on his window of opportunity.
Lopez regrouped and was all efficiency in the second round, putting Concepcion down again and then battering him to the floor for a third time and forcing the stoppage victory. 
After a year out of the ring, Concepcion did his career no favors by dropping a split decision to journeyman Juan Carlos Martin in May 2011, and he wasn’t much better when he squeaked a split decision over comparative novice Aaron Garcia five months later. 
The truth is, despite his undoubted talent, the management of Manny Pacquiao and coaching of Freddie Roach, Concepcion just does not seem to have the concentration and focus needed to defeat the world’s best featherweights. He looked to be in the ascension versus Luevano, yet threw it all away with a punch that looked straight out of  ”How to Lose a Fight from a Winning Position” by Andrew Golota. 
He put Lopez down with a wild and lucky punch, but in reality was in dire straights both before and after that knockdown. His last two performances against average opposition have been inexcusable for someone of his caliber, and reflect upon a fighter who clearly is not taking his sport seriously.  
Having said all of that, Concepcion is still young, talented and dangerous, and Garcia will have to be on his A-game if he wants to come through unscathed. The difference is that while Garcia may not have the raw talent of Concepcion, he looks a far more disciplined and focused athlete, knows his own strengths and plays to them. 
I see this one going the distance, with the Garcia clan taking no chances against Concepcion. Garcia will keep the fight at a distance, and look to score with his jab and long, straight combinations. He will stick to this game plan all night long, and emerge with a one-sided unanimous decision. 


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