Miami residents Hairon Socarras and Neslan Machado won’t need to pack suitcases or board a flight for their next bouts.
Accustomed to fighting at distant locations, Socarras and Machado will be two of the featured fighters in the second local card of the year Saturday night.
Socarras will fight Mexico’s Hanzel Martinez for a regional junior-featherweight belt in the main event that headlines an announced nine-bout show at Manna Production Village in Wynwood.
“It’s been a long time, so fighting at home is always special,” Socarras said. “My family and fans are here, and that is a source of motivation. But this fight comes with added responsibility because I will be fighting in the main event.”
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Soccaras (14-0-1, 10 KOs) has made six local ring appearances since turning professional four years ago, but his last four bouts were in Spain, Kentucky, West Virginia and the Dominican Republic. And, despite a busy five-bout schedule in 2014, Socarras, 22, only has fought once this year.
“We have reached a point that we want to find quality opponents to move up in the rankings,” Socarras said of his lighter fight schedule in 2015. “We didn’t want to fight someone for the sake of building the record. Thank God we have an opportunity and found a higher level opponent who will provide a true test.”
For Machado (9-0, seven KOs), Saturday’s bout will be his first in his hometown since turning professional two years ago. Machado, whose first five bouts were in the Dominican Republic, will face Mexico’s Christian Esquivel in a scheduled 10-round, junior-featherweight bout.
“I’m super happy, can’t wait until [Saturday],” Machado said. “All my family is crazy to see me fight here. I’m preparing so hard that I think I’m going to give my best show.”
Machado, 19, enjoyed a successful amateur career, highlighted by national titles at multiple age levels. Although the accomplishments seemed valid for Machado to pursue Olympic aspirations in 2016, he opted for the professional route before adulthood.
“I decided to make the jump to the pros because my style is better for the pros than the amateurs,” Machado said. “If I would have stayed in the amateurs, the only thing you can shoot for is the Olympics, and that would have taken me to age 20. I felt that 17 was the best age for me to jump to the pros.”
Socarras and Machado, who were born in Cuba but moved to the United States at young ages, have become close friends. Both work out in the same gym in Doral and are trained by Jorge Rubio, who currently guides super-bantamweight champion Guillermo Rigondeaux. Socarras, a South Miami High graduate, also has become a mentor to Machado through his early professional phase.
“Neslan always is looking at how I handle things and considers me an example,” Socarras said. “I have to set that positive example, and in doing so, it motivates the both of us. We have a very strong friendship.”
Rubio anticipates lengthy and successful careers for both his fighters.
“I am honored to work with Hairon and Neslan because they are two prospects with tremendous futures,” Rubio said. “I believe they have all the qualities not only to become world champions but stay and excel at a top level.”
Saturday’s card also will feature a bout featuring Miami resident and former light-heavyweight champion Glen Johnson. Johnson (54-20-2, 37 KOs) will fight Turkey’s Avni Yildinirin (5-0, four KOs) in a scheduled 10-round light-heavyweight bout.
Around the ring
▪ Pembroke Pines resident and former heavyweight champion Shannon Briggs is scheduled to appear in the first card of the year at Seminole Hard Rock Live Arena on Sept. 5. The show’s promoter, Heavyweight Factory, will host a news conference Tuesday at the Hard Rock Resort to officially announce the event.
▪ Late Saturday, Manuel Avila scored a technical-knockout victory against Miami resident Yoandris Salinas after Salinas couldn’t answer the bell for the seventh round of their regional super-bantamweight title bout in Indio, California.
Salinas (21-2-2) injured his right hand earlier in the match and by the end of the sixth round the injury worsened, forcing his cornermen to stop the bout.
Friday (9 p.m., Spike TV): Antonio Tarver vs. Steve Cunningham, 12, heavyweights.
Saturday (7 p.m., at Mana Wynwood Production Village, 318 NW 23 St., Miami): announced nine-bout card, headlined by Hairon Socarras vs. Hanzel Martinez, 10, junior-featherweights and Glen Johnson vs. Avni Yildinirin, 10, light-heavyweights; $25 general admission; call 305-988-2178.