Local boxer ends hiatus, returns to Parx June 15

Philly flyweight Miguel Cartagena will take on Jesus Soler during Joe Hand Promotions’ Xcite Fight Night 4

By Samantha Bambino

The Times

Source: Darryl Cobb Jr.

It was supposed to be his big comeback.

After four and a half years of fighting in rings around the world, Northeast Philadelphia flyweight Miguel Cartagena returned to his hometown roots in 2018 to take on Los Angeles’ Carlos Maldonado in Joe Hand Promotions’ Xcite Fight Night 2.

On the evening of Friday, June 29, Parx Casino’s Xcite Center buzzed with anticipated excitement as the boxer’s friends and family packed into the venue.

There was simply no way “No Fear” Cartagena could lose.

But things don’t always go as planned, and Cartagena dropped an eight-round split decision to Maldonado. A knockdown suffered in the last round cost Cartagena (15–5–1, 6 KOs) the decision.

The loss was a major blow both physically and mentally for Cartagena, 26, who has been on hiatus ever since. Over the past 12 months, he has worked tirelessly to better himself and reignite that fire, signing with Rising Star Promotions and finding a new trainer.

Now, Cartagena’s one-year layoff is finally coming to an end. On Saturday, June 15, he is once again entering the ring to headline a seven-bout card against Jesus Soler, of Arecibo, Puerto Rico, in an eight-round flyweight contest as part of Xcite Fight Night 4.

“I’m excited to be fighting at home again. I’m working on staying focused in the ring and sticking to the game plan. I’m going to go out and deliver a main event performance for the fight,” Cartagena said. “I was trying to get back into the ring a lot sooner, but me being with a new trainer and manager and all, I figured I should get more adapted to their training style.”

According to Cartagena, his new team has shown him higher levels of attention at the gym, located at 4000 N. 9th St., Philadelphia. This has helped Cartagena rediscover not only his confidence, but his longtime passion for the sport.

Cartagena first put on boxing gloves at the age of 7, and progressed like lightning speed. In 2008, he won a number of national tournaments as an amateur and in 2009, at 16, became one of the youngest fighters to earn the coveted titles of both U.S. National Light Flyweight Champion and U.S. Golden Gloves.

“I want to get back into the ring and pretty much show off, show what I’ve been working for,” Cartagena said.

At Xcite Fight Night 4, Cartagena is looking to change his luck, but he will again have his work cut out for him as he battles the 30-year-old Soler (10–1–1, 5 KOs), who is fighting stateside for the second time in his career. Soler’s only loss was in 2013 and since then, he’s racked up six wins, three by knockout.

“I am very grateful to God and to my management team, Pivott Boxing, for presenting me with this opportunity. We are getting ready to put on a great performance,” Soler said. “On June 15 in Pennsylvania, there is going to be a war. You will see a very focused Soler. We are training very hard with the best sparring partners Puerto Rico has to offer. I will accept nothing less than a victory. I really hope my opponent is also training hard because on that night, he will go to war with a warrior hungrier and more aggressive than anyone he has ever faced. We owe the fans a great performance on June 15.”

Also featured on the Xcite Fight Night 4 card will be an all-Philadelphia lightweight showdown as Jerome Conquest (10–3–0, 1 KO), fresh off of a win at the last Xcite Fight Night, takes on Frank Trader (12–2–1, 3 KOs), in the eight-round co-feature.

If you go: Xcite Fight Night 4 takes place Saturday, June 15. The card consists of seven fights, beginning at 7 p.m. Doors open at 6 p.m. The card is promoted by Joe Hand Promotions. This event is only for adults age 21 and older. Tickets priced at $50, $75 and $100 are on sale at Joe Hand Promotions (215–364–9000). Tickets can also be purchased from the Hold My Ticket Call Center at 1–877–466–3404 and parxcasino.com. Parx Casino and its Xcite Center are located at 2999 Street Road, Bensalem.

Samantha Bambino can be reached at sbambino@newspapermediagroup.com