Boxing, Sports

Garcia unifies light-weight belts

Garcia unifies light-weight belts, desires Spence

LOS ANGELES — Mikey Garcia had won world titles in 4 weight classes, risen close to the highest of boxing’s pound-for-pound record and put himself in place for any variety of main fights. However one factor had eluded him — a unification combat. Till Saturday, that’s, when he placed on a dominating efficiency, dropping Robert Easter Jr. and simply outpointing him to unify two 135-pound world titles earlier than an adoring crowd of 12,560 on the Staples Heart. Garcia, who now has his eye going as much as welterweight later this 12 months to problem world titleholder Errol Spence Jr., gained going away on the scorecards 118-109, 117-110 and 116-111 in a combat wherein he knocked Easter down within the third spherical. ESPN additionally scored the combat for Garcia 118-109 within the 10th light-weight title unification combat in historical past and first since Juan Manuel Marquez defeated Juan Diaz within the 2009 combat of the 12 months. “It is an important accomplishment,” Garcia mentioned of unifying belts. “Now we’re again. I advised you guys I used to be coming for greater issues and now we’re one step nearer to attaining that. I knew he was a troublesome opponent. He is a troublesome warrior. He gave an important combat, however I used to be the higher fighter. I used to be accountable for the combat and I did what I needed to do to win.” The final time Luis “King Kong” Ortiz fought, he was the one being knocked out. This time the heavyweight title contender made fast work of Razvan Cojanu. Garcia did it in entrance of Spence, who was ringside on a scouting mission. “It is a massive combat. It is the largest combat I can get proper now,” Spence mentioned. “It is an enormous combat. It is a simple combat to make. Showtime is on board. Our administration is on board. This 12 months, hopefully, November or December.” Garcia has gained world titles at featherweight, junior light-weight, light-weight and in February outpointed Sergey Lipinets for a junior welterweight belt to affix solely legends Manny Pacquiao and Juan Manuel Marquez in profitable world titles at 126, 130, 135 and 140 kilos. However Garcia shortly vacated that title to return to light-weight for the unification alternative towards Easter, who was making his fourth protection. “This was an important expertise for Mikey,” mentioned Robert Garcia, Mikey’s older brother and coach. “It’s the first time Mikey ever unified. It was an important combat towards a really tough opponent. Robert had the peak and attain benefit and it was fairly tough. Mikey fought the combat that he wanted to. He utilized stress. There have been rounds that have been just a little bit tough, however Mikey dominated many of the rounds and did what he wanted to so as to win.” Garcia was making the primary protection of the title he gained 18 months in the past by starching Dejan Zlaticanin with a highlight-reel knockout within the third spherical in January 2017. Some questioned whether or not he would be capable to comfortably make 135 kilos after having had two fights in a row within the junior welterweight division, however he appeared robust and quick towards Easter. “He was only a higher man tonight. I take my hat off to Mikey,” Easter mentioned. “He is a real warrior. Every time we step within the ring, we’re each placing our lives on the road and tonight Mikey was victorious. I simply could not discover the timing and I simply could not let my proper hand go.” In accordance with CompuBox punch statistics, Garcia landed 176 of 555 punches (32 %) and Easter landed 129 of 507 (25 %). Of Easter’s whole, 89 of 343 have been jabs, however the output fell within the later rounds. Easter, in his first combat with new head coach Kevin Cunningham, confirmed precisely what his recreation plan could be from the opening bell, which was to make use of his 8-inch attain benefit to maintain Garcia on the finish of his jab and likewise go to the physique, which he did successfully early on. Garcia (39-0, 30 KOs), 30, of Moreno Valley, California, picked up the tempo within the second spherical as he tried to crowd the taller Easter and work him on the within, however Easter (21-1, 14 KOs), 27, of Toledo, Ohio, was capable of principally hold him at bay together with his jab. However he couldn’t hold that going in the course of the combat. “I like to remain affected person early on. He had a superb recreation plan to make use of that attain. As soon as I began stepping into rhythm, we took management. I simply needed to wait my time,” Garcia mentioned.

“He has some good hand pace, so I simply needed to be affected person and cautious. I am extra skilled. I am a hungrier fighter.” Garcia was having an excellent third spherical and it received even higher when he related with a three-punch mixture — jab, proper hand and a tough left hook — that dropped Easter with a number of seconds left. He beat the depend however took a number of extra pictures because the spherical ended. “He caught me with a clear shot and I went down, however I received up like a real champion,” Easter mentioned. “We return to the drafting board. Every time we win, lose or draw, we return to the drafting board and we work arduous.” Garcia continued to say himself within the fourth spherical, forcing Easter again and dealing him over with an assortment of combos. The combat was even after 5 rounds on two of the three scorecards, however then Garcia took over. Because the combat wore on, the steam on Easter’s jab waned and he turned a extra stationary goal. Garcia moved ahead nonstop and bounced jabs and proper arms off Easter, who went into full retreat mode within the eighth spherical. The ninth spherical introduced the group to its toes as the 2 traded arduous punches throughout an prolonged and fierce trade that noticed Garcia land some punishing left hooks to Easter’s physique whereas Easter compelled his left hand down the center as the group chanted “Mikey! Mikey! Mikey!” Garcia pounded Easter within the 10th spherical. He rocked his head again with flush jabs and compelled him to the ropes earlier than touchdown combos upstairs. It was extra of the identical within the 11th spherical as Easter languished on the ropes for lengthy stretches and took punishment. “The distinction was this was Robert’s first actually massive combat,” Cunningham mentioned. “Mikey Garcia is without doubt one of the greatest fighters within the sport. There are some issues that have to be tweaked. This was my first camp with him and there are nonetheless some issues that have to be labored out and smoothed out. I feel he will likely be champion once more. “Some nights are higher than others. He’s younger. He will likely be again. He confirmed a variety of coronary heart tonight.” After the 11th spherical, Robert Garcia advised his brother to not do something silly within the last spherical, and whereas he did not take any gambles, he did take it to Easter and landed extra clear punches whereas Easter confirmed no urgency. Garcia outlanded him 95-34 in whole punches over the ultimate 4 rounds. With the belts unified and no different main light-weight and even junior welterweight combat obtainable to him, Garcia is adamant about going up in weight to face the damaging Spence (24-0, 21 KOs), 28, of DeSoto, Texas, additionally one among boxing’s greatest pound-for-pound fighters. “I am higher than ever. I am in my prime.” Garcia mentioned. “I am right here for the largest challenges. I do not know if there’s anybody that could be a greater problem than Errol Spence. I do know he is as much as combat everybody, so let’s make it occur. I feel it may be made. I feel that is the subsequent massive combat arising. “I really feel I’ve the ability and the talent set to compete in any division as much as welterweight. He is the hardest man at welterweight so I wish to face him.”

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