The mastery of Mikey Garcia
Bum Phillips, best known for being the head coach of the Houston Oilers during the “Luv Ya Blue” era, was asked if his workhorse running back Earl Campbell was in a class by himself. At that point, “The Tyler Rose” was the most physically bruising and intimidating runner of that era. Anyone who dared tackled him did so at their own peril.
Phillips stated – as only he could – “I don’t know if he’s in a class by himself but I do know, when that class gets together, it sure don’t take long to call the roll.”
The same could be said of Mikey Garcia after his mastery over Adrien Broner on Saturday night at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York, where he outpointed the native of Cincy by the scores of 116-112 (on two cards that seemed a tad generous) and 117-111 by simply being who he is inside that ring.
Steady, consistent, fundamentally sound and rooted in the basics of boxing.
If you want to start a young man (or woman) in the sport, one of the first things you should do is share footage of Garcia, who doesn’t do anything flashy – there is no video of him throwing 56-punch combinations on the mitts or working pool noodles – but all he does are the rudimentary things that should be stressed from the very first day you lace on gloves, at an extremely high level, coupled with a high ring IQ.
This past weekend, he solved “The Problem” early on, by establishing the jab which set the table. It was sharp and piercing and he would then mix it up by throwing a hard shotgun jab down the pipe that dissuaded Broner from stepping forward and establishing his own offensive attack. For much of the fight, Broner was on his back foot and boxing in a very defensive posture, with both hands held up high near his face. It was effective in deflecting many of Garcia’s salvos but that catch-and-then-counter style of fighting lends itself to having a lot of one-way traffic. It was mostly Garcia letting his hands go and Broner going into a shell, over and over again.
It was difficult to give Broner any of the rounds in the first two-thirds of the contest. Garcia didn’t do anything fancy but he did just the most basic things over and over again with great precision and execution. From stepping properly with his punches, to tucking in his chin, making sure his right hand is never too far from his chin, as he extended his jab, and cutting off the ring efficiently. And then he changes and varies the speed and velocity of his punches. To top it off, there is very little – if any – wasted motion to anything Garcia does inside the squared circle.
Broner attempted to box around the ring but, to his – and many other pundits’ (like this one, right here) – surprise, Garcia had no problems pursuing him and initiating the action. By nature, Garcia is more of a counterpuncher, more comfortable reacting to an attacking opponent, but he showed a certain versatility that some believed he lacked. On this particular night, as he closed the gap on Broner, he went liberally to the body with both hands, which made Broner even more reluctant to come out of his shell.
When the final bell had sounded, it was clear to everyone that Garcia had clearly bested Broner and, for the most part, had made it look easy. As for the future, in a perfect world, one might hope Mikey moves back down to the 135-pound class and faces WBA champion Jorge Linares, IBF beltholder Robert Easter Jr. or perhaps even Vasyl Lomachenko (who currently holds the WBO junior lightweight strap). However, the reality is we live in a fractured one and, for the time being, he seems ensconced at Showtime.
As for Broner, this was his final shot to exhibit that he is among the premier prizefighters in the sport. But in recent years, his cult of personality was greater than his consistency of performance. Once looked upon by some as the heir apparent to Floyd Mayweather Jr., he’s been more Zab Judah, a fighter who can be more up and down than the Dow Jones and whose athletic gifts often camouflage their technical shortcomings.
It’s not that he’s a bad fighter, quite the contrary. He’s a pretty good one who’s had a productive and lucrative career – but he hasn’t been and will never be the elite one some forecast him to be. This time around, he held his training camp in Colorado Springs, which had some believing it would give him the necessary discipline to overcome the smaller Garcia. For some strange reason, Broner has always been given a pass that other boxers aren’t afforded for their past failures.
As he came up short against Garcia, the only thing he really had left to cling to, as he told Showtime’s Jim Gray, was his ability to get people to tune in – for whatever reason – when he performs. Perhaps that’s true but, for the time being, it’s “About B-side” for him.
Broner is still a viable entity in the sport and it’s certainly not out of the question that he can win another carefully hand-picked title or two and be involved in significant events but he simply isn’t in that elite class.
But in all fairness, there simply aren’t that many there with Garcia.
I worked the CBS Sports Network broadcast on Saturday night at the Queen Mary in Long Beach with Sean Wheelock and our main event featured that talented Tramaine Williams, who, at one time, was under the Top Rank banner before being given his release, after being arrested on weapons and narcotics charges (and then violated his parole twice), derailed his career.
Now under the RocNation Sports banner, he’s looking to make up for lost time and Williams certainly made a statement by blowing out veteran William Gonzalez in one round (flooring the Nicaraguan three times) and serving notice that he’s a featherweight to deal with. Currently, he’s 12-0 (5) and ranked second in the USBA. With his style and talent, he’s certainly a guy who will most likely only get a title shot if and when he becomes a mandatory challenger to one of the champions at 126.
By the way, it was my first time ever being so close to a cruise ship and, geez, these things are gargantuan. I mean, seriously, it was like a small city floating out there. All those years of watching “The Love Boat” never gave me an appreciation for just how big these vessels are.
If you have never seen the greatness that was Earl Campbell, here ya go:
Jorge Sebastian Heiland looked like a guy on stilts – one being shorter than the other – and I’d say the only thing more courageous than Heiland was his corner, who kept sending him out there versus Jermall Charlo…I’d like to see Jarrell Miller be less of a “Big Baby” and get down to at least 275 pounds…Super middleweight prospect Junior Younan got all he could handle from Mike “Tough” Guy…Yes, NFL pre-season football is upon us…ESPN(2) has back-to-back boxing shows on Friday and Saturday night…I really think the mother is the funniest character on NBC’s “The Carmichael Show”…Can’t wait for “Hard Knocks” on HBO…Roy Englebrecht, who ran the event at the Queen Mary, told me it will take eight months to paint it. Yeah, that’s a lot of Dutch Boy…I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and I tweet (a lot) at twitter.com/steveucnlive. I also share photos of stuff at instagram.com/steveucnlive and can also be found at tsu.co/steveucnlive.