Mikey Garcia becomes unified lightweight champion with impressive win over Easter
Los Angeles— An electrified crowd roared in ecstasy while chanting their favorite Mexican four-division world champion’s name as he entered the ring into his lightweight unification fight against Robert Easter Jr.
Over 12,500 boxing fans got their money’s worth as they witnessed an action-packed Premier Boxing Champions card that constantly had them at the edge of their seat as Mikey Garcia (39-0, 30 KOs) pummeled Easter Jr. (21-1, 14 KOs) to win a unanimous decision and become the unified lightweight champion.
In the first two rounds, Easter capitalized on his size and reach advantage, landing the better of the exchanges by popping Garcia’s head back with his jab alone.
Garcia came out swinging in the third round, making Easter backpedal and eventually catching him with a vicious left hook that sent Easter to the canvas. The crowd cheered and yelled out Garcia’s name for the remainder of the round. After Easter hitting the canvas, it was all Garcia as he continued to unleash massive punches on Easter, who clinched in attempts to escape Garcia’s assault.
The middle rounds continued as Garcia displayed his fantastic boxing abilities landing precise, crisp punches on Easter and using his footwork to get out of reach immediately. Though Easter had his moments of success, they were short-lived as Garcia cornered him against the ropes for the majority of the rounds. It seemed as Easter had forgotten entirely to impose his height and reach advantage and allowed to become the one bullied into the ropes.
The ninth round was undeniably the best round of the fight with brutal toe-to-toe exchanges at the center of the ring between both champions. Easter appeared to have momentarily stunned Garcia after catching him with several shots early in the round. Easter’s rebuttal only seemed to fire up Garcia as he came forward with grueling punches of his own.
In the championship rounds, Garcia ripped Easter with monstrous left hooks trapping him against the ropes. Easter countered efficiently but continued to be outshined by Garcia’s skills. In the final round, Garcia put his hands in the air and waved at the fans as he left his corner. The Staples Center echoed with loud cheering as the ref motioned the fighters to the middle of the ring.
Those cheers from the crowd soon turned to “boos” as fans reacted to Easter’s constant clinching over Garcia who persisted in engaging in battle. Garcia seemed to have stunned Easter once again in the final minute of the last round, finishing strong in his performance.
After 12 rounds of Garcia dominating Easter, judges ringside scored the bout 118-109, 117-110, and 116-111 all for the Garcia who now holds both the WBC and IBF lightweight world titles.
At the post-fight presser, Easter came out looking like he had stuck his head in a beehive, yet with a humble approach congratulating Garcia on being the better man in the ring.
When asked about Garcia’s power, Easter claimed to have been more stunned than hurt by the knockdown.
“It happens in boxing,” Easter said. “You get caught with a shot, it was a clean shot. I wasn’t hurt, but I got caught with a shot.”
Easter also remained lighthearted as he joked “having a bone to pick” with Adrien Broner and Gervonta Davis for not attending his training camp and laughing off the post he had made the day before insinuating he had the advantage over Garcia because of he lacked a muscular physique like his own.
Following the weigh-in, Easter captioned this photo “Champions come in shape.” After tasting some of Garcia’s humbling knuckle sandwiches, Easter had a different outlook.
“He didn’t have a body, but he had a fist,” Easter said.
Garcia gave Easter props of his own, assuring this was a big challenge for him.
“I knew he was a tough opponent,” Said Garcia. “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.”
The now unified lightweight champion continued to tell the press a fight with IBF Welterweight World Champion Errol “The Truth” Spence was his priority to make his dream of becoming a five-division world champion a reality.
“I’m here for the biggest challenges,” Garcia said. “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. 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.”
Post-fight, Spence was invited to give his thought’s on Garcia’s interest in him for the Showtime Boxing telecast.
“He’s daring to be great,” Spence told Showtime Boxing. “He wants to be great, he wants to move up and dethrone me, and it’s not going to happen. It’s definitely going to be an easy fight. He will be pound-for-pound No. 1 if he beats me, but it’s not going to happen. He has great skills, but I see myself winning. I don’t really see anything that concerns me. He’s technically good, but I don’t see him hurting me at 147.”
Robert Garcia, Mikey Garcia’s brother and trainer, expressed disagreement with his brothers plans to move up in weight class immediately, yet promises to remain supportive of his career choices.
“Whatever we say is not gonna change Mikey’s mind,” Said Robert Garcia. “So we’re gonna go for it… My dad tells me after the fight, ‘Contact Manny Pacquiao.’ My dad would rather go for Manny Pacquiao, he’s the WBA champion, but that doesn’t interest Mikey.”
Whether Garcia chooses to continue to dominate the lightweight division, unify at super lightweight, or take the giant leap to face Spence, fans can be sure Garcia will continue to provide entertaining, action-packed fights.
In the co-main event, fans witnessed the much-anticipated return of Cuban heavyweight Luis “King Kong Ortiz who demolished Romania’s Razvan Cojanu in a sensational two-round knockout.
Cojanu (16-4, 9 KOs) showboated in the first round shaking off the Cuban southpaw’s punches and taunting him throwing some punches of his own. Fans booed the beginning of the second round as Ortiz (29-1, 25 KOs) figured out his distance to set up his punches, but Cojanu mocked Ortiz inviting him to come forward. Ortiz took this as an ask-and-you-shall-receive moment to throw a murderous right hand followed by a straight left that folded Cojanu’s knees and sent him to the canvas.
Clearly disoriented, Cojanu fell short when crawling to the ropes in attempts to get up to continue. Ortiz celebrated his comeback win by beating his chest on top of the ropes to make it clear that King Kong had returned.
In a very emotional post-fight interview, Ortiz cried as he informed his fans about his ill daughter back home.
“Thank God they found a cure for my daughter’s disease,” Said Ortiz. “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.”
When asked about future plans for his career, Ortiz assured he was back to climb his way up the heavyweight division.
“I want to fight Joshua,” Ortiz said. “But he only fights boxers he’s sure he can defeat. I’m going to ask the government to put me on disability, maybe that way Joshua will fight me. Whatever comes next. I’m ready. I’ll keep on going. I won’t shy away from any challenge. I’m ready.”
The opening T.V. bout was a toe-to-toe matchup between undefeated Texan Mario “El Azteca” Barrios and local favorite Jose “El Gato” Roman for the vacant WBA Inter-Continental Welterweight Title.
Roman (24-3-1, 16 KOs) started strong as he cut Barrio’s left eye in the first round, yet began to be outclassed by Barrio (22-0, 14 KOs) who sent him to the canvas for the first time in the fight on the fourth round. Barrios sent Roman to the canvas for the second time on the eighth round, which urged his corner to stop the fight. After eight rounds, all judges had Barrios up in the scorecards 80-70, and Barrios kept his undefeated record intact winning by way of knockout.
When asked about the possibility of a title shot, Barrios seemed enthusiastic for an opportunity for a title to arise.
“I feel I’m ready, said Barrio. “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 the Facebook/Youtube streamed undercard portion of the card, Argentinian contender Fabian “TNT” Maidana improved his record to (16-0, 12 KOs) by way of knockout after Klimov (20-5, 10 KOs) went down in the seventh round with a hard left from the Argentinian. Klimov’s corner stopped the bout during the mandatory count to protect their fighter from taking major punishment.
The Balderas brothers fighting out of Santa Maria, Ca. both won their respective fights maintaining their undefeated record. Karlos Balderas (6-0, 5 KOs) unleashed ferocious punches against fight veteran Giovanni Caro (27-24-4, 21 KOs) who was against the ropes until referee Thomas Taylor stepped in to stop the fight.
Younger brother Jose Balderas arose victorious after four rounds against Jose Alfredo Flores (6-6, 3 KOs) by way of unanimous decision. Balderas was able to drop Flores in the fourth round, winning on all three judges scorecards 40-35.
Image credit: @Kumbiaa_ (IG)