Walker Collides With Garcia on ShoBox
NEW YORK – Fresh off of an impressive decision over Jason Estrada on “ShoBox: The New Generation” in November 2006, the undefeated Travis Walker (22-0-1, 17 KOs) will make a triumphant return to Showtime when he faces fellow unbeaten George “El Torito” Garcia (13-0, 4 KOs) in the 10-round heavyweight main event on “ShoBox” Friday, April 6, 2007.
Opening the telecast will be an eight-round heavyweight battle pitting Raphael Butler (25-3, 1 ND, 20 KOs) against Teke Oruh (13-0-1, 6 KOs). Goossen Tutor Promotions will promote the event from The Target Center in Minneapolis, Minn. Both bouts will air on Showtime at 11 p.m. ET/PT (delayed on the west coast).
Walker, of Colorado Springs, Colo. by way of Tallahassee, Fla., is coming off of his most important pro victory. On Nov. 17, 2006, he handed longtime amateur nemesis Estrada his first pro loss in an eight-round bout on “ShoBox” from San Jacinto, Calif. Although the bout went into the books as a majority decision, many felt Walker had done enough to win unanimously.
“I have seen myself at my best and that was not close to my best,” Walker said. “You have yet to see me at my best.’’
Prior to their “ShoBox’ meeting, Walker had gone winless in three amateur starts against Estrada. The last defeat cost Walker a shot at making the 2004 United States Olympic team.
This time around it was a different story as the big, strong and willing 27-year-old performed with great heart and determination. Game and well-conditioned, Walker entered the ring weighing a career-low 235 pounds and landed the more effective punches throughout.
“It did not really insult me that Estrada beat me three times before,” said Walker after winning a hard-fought affair by the scores 78-74, 76-75 and 76 apiece. “In the amateurs, I did not have a lot of experience and was very raw. I knew the pro game would be a different story.
“Still, it feels great to finally beat Estrada. All of the hard work finally paid off. I know I am at another level, and all my fights are going to get tougher and tougher, so I have to work harder and harder.
“It was the hunger that drove me to finally get to the top.’’
The six-foot-four-inch Walker only had 32 amateur fights, but has made up for lost time since turning professional in July 2004. Despite being brought along slowly, he fought eight times in 2006 and sparred against International Boxing Federation (IBF) Heavyweight Champion Wladimir Klitschko.
“I am truly ready to step up and fight a lot harder,” Walker said. “I am the new look at heavyweight, and I am going to make it look like that. Anyone that has been watching my career since I turned pro knows that I have advanced a lot in a short amount of time.”
Despite a high-profile victory on SHOWTIME, Walker will continue to take it a step at a time.
“I have a lot of things I need to work on,” said Walker, whose lone blemish on his record came when he boxed to an eight-round draw against once-beaten Jason Gavern on Sept. 30, 2005 in Brooks, Calif. “I am still very green. I need to work on my technique, get behind my jab more.”
Trying to derail “The Freight Train” is Garcia, of Salinas, Calif., by way of Glendale, Ariz. The five-foot-nine-and-one-half inch boxer is not built like a stereotypical boxer. However, Garcia has proven time and again that he is a tricky, creative heavyweight who is rarely hit by clean punches or hurt by his opponents.
Garcia, who also possesses tremendous determination, a fine chin, craftiness and a knack for effective counterpunching, has won eight straight contests by decision.
A terrific amateur who once was ranked No. 1 in the United States, Garcia was a member of the USA Boxing team from 2001-04. However, Garcia’s options were not limited to this country. After applying for dual citizenship, he made the Mexican national team and came within points of going to the
Olympics due to qualifiers.
Garcia, who turned pro at age 22 on July 30, 2004, won his initial three starts by first-round TKO.
“They see this fat kid (and think) this is not what a boxer is supposed to look like,” Garcia said. “It has probably hindered me from making any extra money besides fight purses because promoters don’t want to take any chances because they think I am out of shape.’’
Garcia, who has tipped the scales as high as 267½ pounds, weighed 260 in his last outing when he recorded an eight-round unanimous decision (79-72 and 77-74 twice) over Charles Davis on Oct. 28, 2006, in Phoenix.
To achieve his goal of becoming the first Mexican heavyweight champion, Garcia knows that he will have to continue winning and slim down.
“It is up to me,” Garcia said. “If you want to be up there with the best, you have to look better.
“I know I have to do what it takes. I have so many critics. I want to prove the world wrong. That is what makes this fight on SHOWTIME so important. “It is my opportunity to prove that it is not always all about looks, but that I am a fighter.’’
In between training, Garcia serves as a teacher’s assistant at a Phoenix school where he works with alternative-education children. His path took him to college, but due to the rigors of traveling and training with the national boxing team, he had to drop out.
Now, Garcia supports his wife, Valerie, and their two children.
“Boxing is just not about the money,” Garcia said. “It would help though if I got a little bit.”
Butler, of Rochester, Minn., by way of Chicago, Ill., has won eight consecutive bouts, including seven by knockout. Since turning pro at age 20 in June 2004, the hard-hitting heavyweight has knocked out half of his opponents (14) in the first round.
After averaging more than eight fights a year during his first three pro campaigns, Butler already has fought twice in 2007, including a victory over Louis Monaco at The Target Center on Jan. 12. In his last outing, Butler scored a first-round TKO over Brad Bowers on Feb. 24 in Superior, Wis.
Oruh, of Las Vegas, Nev., by way of Port Harcourt, Nigeria, has defeated 11 straight opponents since fighting to a four-round draw in February 2002. After battling nine of his past 11 bouts in California, Oruh will make only his second pro start outside of the west coast.
In his only other contest outside of Arizona, California or Nevada, Oruh scored a first-round knockout in his pro debut over Gustavo Robleto on July 28, 2001, in Fort Myers, Fla. In his last contest, Oruh recorded a hard-fought six-round majority decision (58-56 twice and 57 apiece) over John Clark on Feb. 22, 2007, in Lemoore, Calif.
Broadcasters • Showtime • KO Corner News • Promoters • Goossen Tutor Promotions • Weight Classes • Heavyweight • George Garcia • Travis Walker