Showtime results: Mikey Garcia defeats Robert Easter Jr., unifies lightweight titles
Mikey Garcia became the unified IBF/WBC lightweight titleholder, after beating Robert Easter Jr. via unanimous decision (116-111, 117-110, 118-109), on Saturday night, and the Mexican-American star is still looking for a challenge. The unification was the main event of a live Showtime telecast, from the Staples Center, in Los Angeles, California.
“It’s a great accomplishment. Now we’re back. I told you guys I was coming for bigger things, and now we’re one step closer to achieving that,” Garcia opined after the victory.
Perhaps the only round in which Garcia, 39-0 (30), didn’t return to his corner with an enthusiastic fist pump was the opener. There Easter, 21-1 (14), used his jab to the body and head to further the height and reach advantage he possessed, and it looked like, if the Toledo, Ohio native could maintain such a boxing match, he’d have a chance at upsetting the hometown fighter, who drew an enthusiastic crowd of 12,560. By the end of the second round, Garcia found away around it, contorting his torso slightly enough to sneak in a jab of his own or a left hook to the head. That was just one of the ways he started it but, from then on, Garcia showed his self-gratification to his fans at the end of every single round, knowing he was banking the rounds rather convincingly.
In the third, Garcia made that crowd erupt, when a right and left hook combo upstairs floored Easter for a knockdown, and, from that point, the tone of the fight drastically changed. Easter’s jab wasn’t as busy, and the follow-up right hands to the body – which were landing early – rarely showed up. Garcia slowly got closer to Easter, as the rounds progressed, and, soon enough, he’d have his foe shelled up on the ropes, leaving easy opportunity for him to score shots and find himself in an offensive groove. Garcia threw many different shots, showing great versatility, but his left hand was something else. More importantly Garcia’s shots were accurate, and, as they added up, Easter basically gave away the eighth round by circling the ring to catch a break.
However that lapse of engagement preceded the best round of the fight, and that, once again, got the entire arena on its feet once an Easter right hand – his best punch of he fight – caught Garcia on the face. Still, Garcia managed to pepper Easter with flush shots, and force him to go backward toward the ropes, by round’s end, making up for the earlier success of his rival, and warranting a fist pump to the crowd for good measure.
“I knew he was a tough opponent,” Garcia said. “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. 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.”
The championship rounds played out accordingly, with Garcia in attack mode and Easter with little to no adjustment to thwart his rhythm. By the end, his only mistake of the fight never came, and Easter went from the longest-reigning lightweight titleholder to an outclassed opponent, who was never on the same level. Garcia, 30, then went on to take what he’s wanted all along, and, regardless of what everyone thinks about it, should the fight he wants gets done, there is an endearing aspect to one of the most talented fighters in the sport, as he searches for either a loss or a breathtaking win.
“I’m more experienced. I’m a hungrier fighter. I’m better than ever,” Garcia said. “I’m in my prime. I’m here for the biggest challenge. I don’t know if there is anyone that is a bigger challenge than (undefeated IBF welterweight titleholder) Errol Spence (Jr.). I know he’s up to fight everyone, so let’s make it happen. I think it can be made. I think that’s the next big fight coming up. I feel I have the power and the skillset to compete in any division up to welterweight. He’s the toughest guy at welterweight, so I want to face him.”
Luis “King Kong” Ortiz made a giant splash in his return by knocking out Razvan Cojanu in the second round to get back in the win column, after challenging WBC heavyweight titleholder Deontay Wilder last March. The heavyweight contest was scheduled for 10 rounds.
Ortiz, 29-1 (25), wrecked Cojanu to the canvas, with a perfect straight to the chin that was preceded by a dummy right hook upstairs. Cojanu, 16-4 (9), seemed shocked by the left that caught him with his mouth open, and, after untangling himself from the ropes, he failed at getting up twice before the referee waved it off. Ortiz, 39, couldn’t have done it better, and the Cuban heavyweight contender climbed the turnbuckle to pump his chest like his namesake.
“First of all, I want to send greetings to my children, my wife,” Ortiz said with great emotion. “Thank God they found a cure for my daughter’s disease (Epidermolysis Bullosa, which causes skin blistering and erosions) five days ago. My wife told me while I was boarding the plane to get here. It’s been hard to be away from them. I’m happy I won but it’s been really hard to be away from them. In my mind King Kong has not been defeated. I don’t feel I lost against Deontay Wilder.”
In the opening bout of the Showtime telecast, Mario Barrios was successful in his network debut by stopping Jose Roman, after eight full rounds. The junior welterweight contest was scheduled for ten.
“This was the farthest I’ve gone in a while,” Barrios remarked post-fight. “It was great work, and I feel like I’m transitioning to the fighter that I always thought I’d be. I feel I’m ready (for a title shot). I feel strong. I feel fast. I’m young but, whatever my managers throw at me, I’m ready. If I could get it tomorrow, I’d take it. In every fight there are always changes you realize you could’ve made earlier. In every fight you learn; you make adjustments, and you become a better fighter.”
Barrios, 22-0 (14), had to deal with some unfair and impatient booing in the opening round, as he gauged his distance with a jab. Roman, 24-3-1 (16), was game for whatever Barrios had for him, until a right hand shook him backward, and a left hand in the temple dropped him in the fourth. Afterward Roman’s tone changed, and he tried his best to survive. Barrios really gave a highlight moment in the eighth, in which a four-punch combo landed cleanly, before he crumbled Roman to the canvas for the second knockdown of the fight. Once on his stool, referee Gerald White and the ringside doctor were in agreement to stop the bout before the ninth could begin.
Jose Balderas out-dueled Alfredo Chanez over four rounds to receive a wide unanimous decision victory (40-35 on all three scorecards).
Balderas, 4-0, a bantamweight prospect from Santa Maria, California, highlighted his outing with a third round knockdown, that slowed down the pesky Mexican from Tijuana. Chanez, 6-6 (3), was willing to engage with Balderas but his skills didn’t exactly match the heart, let alone the skill of the 23-year-old, who had an easy night.
Jerry Perez had an impressive performance in his second round knockout win over Aaron Hollis. The junior lightweight contest was scheduled for six.
Perez, 8-0 (6), knocked Hollis’ mouthpiece out with the very first right hand he threw, to start the fight, and it previewed the rough night in store for the Cincinnati, Ohio, native. Hollis, 4-7 (2), had his left hand down by his hip all night, and he paid for it. In the final moments of the first round, Perez dropped him, and proceeded to do the same, to start the second, with a perfect left hook. Fighting out of Oak Hills, California, Perez, 25, capped off his win by landing that left hook again, and exploiting Hollis’ glaring flaws. Referee Jerry Cantu waved it off immediately after the third knockdown.
Fabian Maidana stopped Andrey Klimov in the seventh round to remain undefeated, and put an exclamation point on an overall forgetful fight. The junior welterweight contest was scheduled for seven, and was streamed live on Showtime’s Facebook page.
Maidana, 16-0 (12), didn’t have an easy time finding the range for his power right hand against a mobile Russian with nothing more than a jab. Klimov, 20-5 (10), was content to stay on the outside, and prompted the boos from the crowd by the fight’s midway point. In the fateful seventh, Maidana, 26, had remained aggressive and finally his left clipped Klimov’s chin to produce the only knockdown of the fight. Once Klimov got up, referee Ray Corona waved it off, after deeming him unfit to continue. There were no complaints, especially from the crowd.
Karlos Balderas stopped Giovanni Caro in the fourth round to secure a victory, and continue looking impressive as a lightweight prospect. The fight was scheduled for six.
Balderas, 6-0 (5), a former U.S. Olympian in 2016, had no issues breaking down the Mexican veteran, and did so with great patience behind a rapid jab. Not only was it an effective offensive weapon, it gauged the perfect distance for Balderas to walk away from the fight the same exact way he walked into it. Caro, 27-24-4 (21), was slow and plodding, making it easier for Balderas to fire off quick, three-punch combinations to the body and head. In the fourth, Balderas had Caro hunched over with his back against a corner, while letting his hands go. That’s when referee Thomas Taylor stepped in to wave it off.
Junior flyweight Lina “Cookie” Lincona outworked Judit Hachbold over the course of four two-minute rounds, earning three identical scores of 40-36, to receive the victory.
Fighting out of Long Beach, California, Lincona, 2-0 (1), had a distinct size and skill advantage from the jump, to make it an easy win. Hachbold, 5-6 (1), seemed to enjoy herself, despite getting hit flush and even knocked down, in one instance, in the third but referee Jerry Cantu ruled it a slip.
Rey Perez upset Roberto Marroquin by forcing a corner stoppage in the eighth and final round to cap off a tremendous lightweight affair.
From Santa Rosa City, Philippines, Perez, 23-10 (7), proved once again that he’s a tough out for anyone looking to get in a fight. Marroquin, 27-5-1 (20), was looking for one in the opening round, and started of well with a dazzling combination, but an accidental clash of heads in the second round produced a small knot on his left temple and a glaring change in his disposition. Perez, 27, kept coming forward, despite getting hit rather easily and eventually getting stunned by a Marroquin uppercut in the fifth. Marroquin, 28, was outworking his Filipino foe until the final round, in which the unexpected happened. A right hand from Perez stunned Marroquin backward, producing a cut near his left eye. Marroquin was in his feet when his trainer Robert Garcia climbed onto the apron to call off the contest, resulting in even more shock outside of the overall result.
Featherweight prospect Luis Coria handled Guadalupe Arroyo for six rounds to earn a shut-out unanimous decision win (60-54 on all three scorecards), after six rounds.
Coria, 9-1 (4), was too quick and too sly for Arroyo’s windmill right hands to create the upset, and even though that was apparent within the first round, that didn’t stop the Mexican from showboating in the third, after causing Coria to miss. Arroyo, 3-13, didn’t offer much pushback with his offense but was willing to push through all the shots landed on him to remain a tough out for the young up-and-comer.
Cruiserweight hopeful Brandon Glanton showcased himself by forcing a stoppage of Daniel Najera, in the third round, to remain unbeaten. The contest was scheduled for six rounds.
Fighting for the first time under 200 pounds, Glanton, 7-0 (6), couldn’t miss with the ambidextrous hooks to his opponent’s body and head. Najera, 7-3-1 (3), moved around more often, as the fight progressed, and Glanton also found it easy to trap the soft-bellied Mexican on the ropes, and unravel him. Referee Thomas Taylor waved off the fight in the middle of the third just as Najera crumbled to the canvas for what would’ve been the only knockdown of the fight.
In the opening bout of the TGB Promotions card, Wesley Diana outboxed Evincii Dixon over the course of four rounds to win by unanimous decision (40-36 twice, 39-37).
Fighting out of Las Vegas, Nevada, Diana, 6-0 (5), a native of Puerto Rico, was evenly-matched in this one, finding himself going the distance for the first time, but the 19-year-old outworked his opponent with a busy jab and consistent body work to come out victorious. Dixon, 7-22-2 (2), Lancaster, Pennsylvania, took Diana’s shots well, and proceeded to stun the teenager to the ropes after a precise combo to the head in the final round, wrapping a bow on the welterweight contest.