Mikey the mechanic
There are many things a trainer must do to prepare and teach young fighters the manly art of the “Sweet Science.” It says here first and foremost that having their pupils watch tapes of Mikey Garcia should be at the very top of that list.
Quite simply there is no better pure fundamental technician than this guy.
No, he may not have the athleticism of Terence Crawford, the stylistic flair of Vasyl Lomachenko or the power of Gennady Golovkin but Garcia is an absolute textbook on how to box. He does it the way it should be done.
And that was demonstrated once again this past weekend, at the Staples Center, in Los Angeles, where he shut down Robert Easter Jr. in impressive form (winning by the scores of 118-109, 117-110 and 116-111), to unify the WBC and IBF lightweight titles.
“I knew he was a tough opponent. He’s a tough warrior. He gave a great fight but I was the better fighter. I was in control of the fight and I did what I had to do to win,” said Garcia, who has won titles in four separate weight classes (from featherweight to junior welterweight), and improved his record to 39-0 (30).
While most comfortable being a counter-puncher, Garcia had to play the role of the initiator, as Easter stayed disciplined in his efforts to box off his back foot, and not give up his height and reach, as he has done in recent fights in which he struggled. Early on the tall and lanky lightweight from Toledo, Ohio, had some success behind his long jab but it wasn’t all that long before Garcia began to gauge distance, and steadily close ground on Easter. Garcia is as good as any fighter today in adapting and adjusting to who’s in front of him, and controlling a fight.
“I like to stay patient early on. He had a good game plan to use that reach. Once I started getting into rhythm, we took control. I just had to wait my time. He has some good hand speed, so I just had to be patient and careful,” stated Garcia.
There is nothing particularly flashy about what Garcia does but, as he sets his feet, aligns his shoulders, keeps a high guard and punches with his legs to create leverage and torque, the sum of his parts adds up to one of the most complete boxers in the sport. In an era of fancy mitt-work – which is great for getting Instagram credibility and retweets on Twitter – all Garcia does is perfect his technique, which is actually applicable in real fights. This here is all steak; no sizzle needed.
After scoring a third round knockdown from a clean-up left hook, Garcia found himself as the aggressor for much of the night, as Easter got into survival mode early on. While he continued to box on the outside, he was patient to a fault, as he never seriously mounted any real serious offensive threat to Garcia. Kevin Cunningham, who was brought in to train Easter for this fight, said afterward, ”Mikey Garcia is one of the best fighters in the sport. There are some things that need to be tweaked. This was my first camp with (Easter), and there are still some things that need to be worked out and smoothed out.”
In the lead-up to this event, Garcia had made his interest clear in facing IBF welterweight champion Errol Spence Jr., later this year. After his latest victory, Garcia, who does things his way like Frank Sinatra, stated, “I’m here for the biggest challenges. I don’t know if there is anyone that is a bigger challenge than Errol Spence. I know he’s up to fight everyone, so let’s make it happen.”
Now some may wonder why a guy who is a unified lightweight champion (who just had a very tough fight versus Sergey Lipinets at 140) is talking about moving up to face the hard-punching and most physically imposing 147-pounder on the planet instead of, say, Vasiliy Lomachenko (the WBA 135-pound champion), well…you have a point. However the reality is a Garcia-Lomachenko fight, because of the parties involved (Garcia and his former promoter Top Rank) is a bit of a non-starter, while both Garcia and Spence – who was in attendance at the Staples Center on Saturday night – are under the same umbrella, in terms of adviser and network.
To paraphrase the late, great Jay Larkin, pork chops will grow on the palm trees in Tel Aviv before Garcia ever does a fight involving Top Rank.
That said Spence-Garcia is a very makeable fight, given the alliances, and, if makes pay-per-view, it will create a date for the Showtime boxing franchise (which is enjoying a very strong campaign) without exhausting whatever money is available in its 2018 budget.
Certainly Spence is game, “Definitely I want that fight,” he said, adding, “I feel like that’s the best fight available for me right now with Shawn (Porter) and Danny (Garcia) fighting in September (for the vacant WBC welterweight title). (WBA titlist) Keith Thurman is still recovering and needs a tune-up.” But he made it clear, “It’s definitely going to be an easy fight. (Mikey Garcia) will be pound-for-pound number one, if he beats me, but it’s not going to happen. He has great skills but I see myself winning.”
ESPN+ subscribers certainly got their $4.99 worth, as Masayuki “The Judge” Ito and Christopher “Pitufo” Diaz battled over 12 fast-paced rounds, at the Kissimmee Civic Center, in Kissimmee, Florida, for the vacant WBO 130-pound title. And it says here that it was the best fight of the weekend, at least in the States.
After scoring a knockdown of the Puerto Rican in the fourth stanza, Ito began to take control of the action with his quick combinations but Diaz never stopped fighting, and he landed his share of hard right hands. While Garcia-Easter will be remembered for the mastery of one fighter, this bout will be recalled for its heated back-and-forthing between two combatants who emptied the bucket.
This is more evidence that when you see Rudy Hernandez in the corner of a Japanese boxer he actually trained for a couple of months, you’re in for a real tough night (Rudy Hernandez says Christopher Diaz vs. Masayuki Ito is a 51/49 fight). He said of the 27-year-old Ito, “The best is yet to come.”
Luis Ortiz can still bang…Speaking of heavyweights, some memorable bouts in England this past weekend were Dillian Whyte-Joseph Parker and Dereck Chisora-Carlos Takam…Speaking of Spence, he and WBO welterweight titlist Terence Crawford have begun sniping at one another on Twitter. Let’s hope this leads them to actually fighting inside the ring…The bacon-wrapped hot dogs they sell outside the Staples Center are incredible…Hold on, Garduno’s in Montebello is closing?! Say it ain’t so! That place is a 90640 institution…Yes, NFL training camps have started and soon fall camp for college teams. It truly is the most wonderful time of the year…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.