Boxing returns to the Fantasy Springs Casino in Indio next Thursday, Feb. 6, on DAZN. The Golden Boy Promotions main event will feature Ricard “El Nino” Sandoval (17-1) going up against Raymond “Tornado” Tabugon (22-11-1).
The co-main is the one that has the interest of the hard-core fans, as Oscar “El Jaguar” Negrete (18-2-2) goes up against Alberto “Impacto” Melian (6-1) for the vacant WBA International Bantamweight title.
Alberto Melian is from Argentina and some have made mention that he was one of the greatest amateurs to come out of the country in quite some years. That type of hype led to some calling him the “Argentinean Lomachenko” and he was fast tracked once he turned pro in Dec. 2017 after such an extensive amateur career.
Last July, he faced a very game Leonardo Baez (15-2), and lost by unanimous decision. Baez was clearly the bigger and stronger fighter. Melian came back in November with a knockout victory over Juan Canton (21-8-3), but it looks as though a move down to bantamweight was the direction him and his team decided to go as fighters in the super bantamweight division were going to be too big for him moving forward.
Melian is a guy who tends to fight on the inside and going up against Negrete will almost guarantee it leading to a “phone booth” type of fight.
Check out Melian's power in this excerpt from a January 2019 win over 10-1 Edgar Ortega:
I checked in with Alberto Melian while he is in training camp to see how things are going and his thoughts on his upcoming battle with Oscar Negrete.
Abe Gonzalez: Your fight against Oscar Negrete is coming up next week. Where did you hold your training camp and what’s your assessment of Oscar Negrete coming into this fight?
Alberto Melian: Training camp was held at the Churchill Boxing Gym in Santa Monica, L.A. I have had time to see Oscar Negrete fight both live and on tv. Oscar is a strong fighter who fights wars and is also a “name” in the sport, which is important to me at this stage. He is a colleague and someone who I’ve had a friendship with after fighting each other in the amateurs.
AG: You mentioned that you fought Negrete in the amateurs, specifically the South American Games in 2010. What can you tell us about that time and did that spark any type of rivalry between you both?
AM: I faced him in the South American Games and he beat me that day but after the fight, we would periodically see each other at events and we were always cordial to each other. I am glad I was able to secure this fight with him and have the opportunity to win the vacant title for Argentina.
AG: Do you feel added pressure given that you are thirty years old and that you’re leveling up in competition quickly with the hopes of possibly getting a shot at a world title by the end of the year?
AM: There is a saying in Argentina “Viejos son los trappos” aka “old are the rags,” and when I debuted, I wanted nothing but complicated fights in an effort to be moved up quickly. This fight is going to tell me where I am at in my career, whether it’s good or bad. I can fight with the best of them and this is the type of fight I like.
AG: What message do you have for fans that will be tuning into your fight next week?
AM: I always tell fans, if you’re going to bet on anyone, bet on me each time as I will not let you down.
Alberto Melian knows how important this fight is and what it can mean if he has a big showing Feb. 6 in Indio. Will he have the type of performance that will catapult him into serious conversations at bantamweight or is the savvy veteran Negrete going to stop the hype train and maybe set himself up for a title fight later this year? Tune into DAZN on Thursday to see the man whose nickname is “Impacto” display his talents in an effort to push his profile to the next level.