All systems are go for the Garcias
While IBF lightweight beltholder Robert Easter Jr. has made significant changes in his corner (hiring the respected Kevin Cunningham as his new trainer) leading into his unification bout, Mikey Garcia – the current WBC titlist – has the exact same team intact for this Saturday night’s bout from the Staples Center, in Los Angeles (Showtime, 10 p.m. ET/7 p.m. PT).
So the question is, can a trainer really make a difference – either technically or strategically – over a two-month span? After all, there’s a reason Cunningham was brought in. Easter flat-out struggled in his last two outings versus Denis Shafikov and Javier Fortuna.
Now he’s facing one of the best pure prizefighters in the sport on his turf.
However Robert Garcia, one of the leading trainers in the sport, says, “I’ve been in that situation, and I think that a trainer can make a difference, especially when the trainer, the fighter, the whole team are looking into the biggest fight of their career. I’ve seen it many times before, in other sports, where the team may not be doing too good but then they go in there against their rival, the biggest game, and they give their best performance.”
For Easter to pull off the upset, he will need a career-best outing. The one who showed up versus Shafikov and Fortuna most likely gets stopped.
“That’s what were training for – for Easter’s best performance,” said Garcia, who co-trains Mikey with their father Eduardo. “We don’t have any excuses. We know that he hasn’t looked too good in his last couple of fights but, going in there with Mikey, I’m sure he’s going to train like never before.”
Easter is a tall and angular fighter; listed at just a shade under six feet tall, he also has a long reach. “He’s never really faced anybody that tall and obviously he’s a world champion,” Garcia said about his brother’s upcoming foe, “so we know it’s not going to be easy. We’ve been doing really good work in sparring but, in the ring, it will be a different story.
“I’m sure Robert Easter has trained like never before for this. It’s the biggest fight of his career, so we expect a pretty difficult fight.”
This particular interview with Garcia took place on the night of July 14, in the bowels of the Lakefront Arena, in New Orleans, after he had guided undefeated lightweight prospect Erick De Leon to a victory. It was still about two weeks away from when Garcia – whose last two bouts were at junior welterweight – would have to weigh in at 135 pounds. When asked if this might be an issue, he answered, “It shouldn’t be. We’ve been doing the mandatory weight (check-ups) the WBC orders and Mikey’s not having any problems. Right now Mikey’s probably about eight or nine pounds, which is not a lot for two weeks before the fight. I think, by the end of next week, he should be four to five pounds (away).”
There is talk that if Garcia is able to defeat Easter, he wants to challenge IBF welterweight champion Errol Spence Jr. However his older brother stated, “I think (Mikey) belongs at 135. 140. Obviously he was a little more comfortable making 140 because it’s a five-pound difference but I think Mikey belongs at 135.”
So how does Garcia see this fight playing out Saturday night?
“It’s going to be difficult. I think Easter’s going to box, going to try to move around. He’s got like an eight-inch reach advantage, so I think he’s going to want to use that reach advantage and box and fight on the outside. Not only with Mikey but anyone fighting against a guy that has an eight-inch reach advantage, and a five or six-inch height advantage, they’ve got to use it,” said Garcia, who expects Cunningham to try and get his charge to “box tall.” Therefore Garcia has to come out of his own comfort zone a little bit, and be the initiator.
“We have to be more aggressive,” he stated. “Obviously Mikey’s not a brawler like some of these other fighters we’ve seen before but he does need to be a little more aggressive.”
Showtime announced that, on September 8, from the Barclays Center, in Brooklyn, the welterweight battle between Shawn Porter and Danny Garcia for the vacant WBC title will take place. Also on HBO, the third installment of “SuperFly” is scheduled to take place, at the Forum, in Inglewood, California.
So set your DVRs that night.
That’s a big day of sports, with those two fight cards and, of course, the titanic battle between Miami and Savannah State.
Here’s this week’s edition of “The 3 Knockdown Rule,” in which Mario Lopez and I review the World Boxing Super Series cruiserweight finals, won by new undisputed champion Oleksandr Usyk, and look back at Jaime Munguia’s first WBO junior middleweight title defense, along with a preview of this weekend’s Showtime card:
Eddie “Earn With” Hearn announced that an agreement has been reached for WBO middleweight beltholder Billy Joe Saunders to face Demetrius Andrade in the fall…The Jaime Munguia-Liam Smith bout on HBO had 777,000 viewers (with a peak of 827,000), a good start for the young Mexican, who could return on the Gennady Golvkin-Canelo Alvarez II undercard, on September 15, in Las Vegas…Golden Boy Promotions announced that Damon Allen Jr.-Jonathan Navarro will take place on August 11, as the main supporting bout to Jesus Rojas-Joseph Diaz Jr., on Facebook, from the Avalon in Hollywood…Showtime will stream a portion of Saturday’s undercard (featuring Fabian Maidana and Karlos Balderas) on its Facebook and YouTube pages. Look at them acting like it’s 2018…Vince Carter is incredible, will play over 20 seasons in the NBA, which is amazing…Listened to New Kids on the Block, while penning this piece. Yeah, I underrated them way back then; I’ll admit it – but still, they were no New Edition. Let’s make that clear…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.