Mikey Garcia Unifies Lightweight Division With Unanimous Decision Against Robert Easter Jr.
Mikey Garcia became the 10th lightweight champion to unify the division with a unanimous decision against Robert Easter Jr. Saturday on SHOWTIME, and immediately afterward set his sights on boxing’s best, namely Errol Spence Jr.
All three judges scored the fight in favor of Garcia,118-109, 117-110, 116-111, in an electrifying fight in front of 12,560 fans at Staples Center in an event presented by Premier Boxing Champions.
The four-division world champion Garcia (39-0, 30 KOs) – who was fighting in his native Southern California for the first time in seven years – keeps his 135-pound WBC title, and also claims Easter’s IBF Lightweight belt
“I’m here for the biggest challenges,” said Garcia, 30, who unified a title for the first time in his career. “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 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.”
Garcia scored a knock down in the third round against Easter (21-1, 14 KOs) of Toledo, Ohio, who was sent to the canvas for just the second time in his career. A strong right jab put Easter out of position, immediately followed by a devastating left hook sent Easter down with 24 seconds remaining in the round.
Garcia got better as the fight progressed. In the final four rounds Garcia out-landed Easter 95-34 in total punches and ended the fight being the more active fighter throwing 555 punches to Easter’s 507. He connected on nearly 40 percent of his power shots while Easter landed at a 24 percent clip.
“It’s a great accomplishment being here in L.A.,” Garcia said. “I was in control most of the fight, and I did what I had to do. I knew he was a tough opponent. He’s a tough warrior. He gave a great fight but I was a better fighter. I was in control of the fight and I did what I had to do to win.”
Easter, who went into the Garcia locker room after the fight to congratulate his opponent, was gracious in defeat.
“Whenever we step in the ring we are both putting our lives on the line and tonight Mikey was victorious,” said Easter, who entered the fight as the longest reigning champion at 135 pounds. “I just couldn’t find the timing and I just couldn’t let my right hand go. He caught me with a clean shot and I went down, but I got up like a true champion.”
During an interview at the SHOWTIME CHAMPIONSHIP BOXING host desk, Spence, a fellow top-five pound-for-pound great, said he would “definitely” welcome a fight with Garcia. “I feel like that’s the best fight available for me right now with Shawn [Porter] and Danny [Garcia] fighting in September. Keith Thurman is still recovering and needs a tune up.
“He’s daring to be great, 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. [Garcia] will be pound-for-pound No. 1 if he beats me. 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.”
Heavyweight southpaw Luis Ortiz (29-1, 25 KOs) returned to the ring with a resounding victory, scoring a devastating second round knockout (2:08) of former world title challenger Razvan Cojanu (16-4, 9 KOs)
Ortiz landed 42 percent of his power shots (eight of 19) while Cojanu landed just two of 13 (15%) in the short fight.
Ortiz was emotional after the fight. He told SHOWTIME’s Jim Gray that just five days ago he learned doctors have found a cure for Epidermolysis Bullosa, a disease his daughter suffers from.
“Thanks to God they found a cure for my daughter’s disease,” Ortiz said. “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.”
Both fighters were coming off losses in heavyweight world title fights. Ortiz was fighting for the first time since challenging Deontay Wilder in a 2018 Fight of the Year candidate. The 6-foot-4 Ortiz wasted little time knocking out the 6-feet-7½, 269-pound Cojanu, returning for his first fight since challenging then-WBO Heavyweight Champion Joseph Parker.
“In my mind King Kong has not been defeated. I don’t feel I lost against Deontay Wilder. I want to fight [Anthony] Joshua, 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.”
In the telecast opener, Mario Barrios (22-0, 14 KOs) remained undefeated recording his sixth straight stoppage with an eighth-round TKO of Jose Roman (24-3-1, 14 KOs) in a scheduled 10-round welterweight match. Each of the judges, as well as SHOWTIME expert scorer Steve Farhood, scored the fight 80-70 in favor of Barrios at the time of the stoppage as Roman’s corner didn’t answer the bell for the ninth round.
San Antonio’s Barrios relied on effective body work in dominating the fight, connecting on 61 of his 133 body shots. He connected on 44 percent of his power punches (104/239) compared to 26 percent for Roman (34/132), who had just five body shots on the night.
“[Body work] is something I’ve been able to work on,” Barrios told Gray in the ring. “You put the body work in early and by the end of the fight they have nothing left. That worked perfectly for this fight. This was the farthest I’ve gone in a while. It was great work and I feel like I’m transitioning to the fighter that I always thought I’ve be.”
Barrios, who suffered a cut above his left eye in the first round, sent Roman to the canvas at 1:15 of the fourth round with a strong right that dazed Roman, then a left hook that put Roman down for the seventh time in his career. Barrios ended the round with a flurry of punches that left Roman stunned.
The 23-year-old Barrios sent Roman down again with 1:38 remaining in the eighth round. Roman survived the round, but his corner refused to answer the bell and the fight was over.
“I feel I’m ready [for a title shot)],” Barrios said. “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.”
It was a star-studded night at Staples as current and former world champions attended the fights, including Jarrett Hurd, Errol Spence Jr., Leo Santa Cruz, Abner Mares, Gervonta Davis and Adrien Broner.
Shawn Porter was also in attendance. It was recently announced that Porter and fellow former 147-pound world title holder Danny Garcia will square off against one another for the vacant WBC Welterweight World Championship live on SHOWTIME Saturday, Sept. 8 from Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y.
“I’m just a different type of athlete,” Porter told SHOWTIME’s Brian Custer. “When you talk about having the tools to become a two-time world champion; I have the tools, the athleticism, the tenacity the ring generalship. You will see all of that on Sept. 8.
“We always say that the business has to make sense [to make fights], And it sounds to me like the business has played its part. I win the WBC Championship and you’ll get Shawn Porter vs. Errol Spence.”
In streaming coverage of live undercard fights on SHOWTIME CHAMPIONSHIP BOXING COUNTDOWN, undefeated super lightweight prospect Fabian Maidana (16-0, 12 KOs), the brother of former champion Marcos Maidana, recorded a seventh-round stoppage (2:32) against former world title challenger Andrey Klimov (19-5, 9 KOs).
Also on the live stream, 2016 U.S. Olympian and unbeaten prospect Karlos Balderas (6-0, 5 KOs) dominated 54-fight veteran Giovanni Caro (27-24, 21 KOs) scoring a stoppage at 2:09 of the fourth round in a scheduled six-round super featherweight bout.
Saturday’s SHOWTIME CHAMPIONSHIP BOXING tripleheader will replay on Monday at 10 p.m. ET/PT on SHOWTIME EXTREME.