Mikey Garcia Drops, Defeats Robert Easter

By Caryn A. Tate on July 28, 2018
Mikey Garcia Drops, Defeats Robert Easter
The term “daring to be great” is too often thrown around. (Scott Hirmano/Showtime)

From the Staples Center in Los Angeles, California, Showtime televised one of the best unifications of the year so far…

From the Staples Center in Los Angeles, California, Showtime televised one of the best unifications of the year so far: lightweight world champions Mikey Garcia (39-0, 30 KOs) and Robert Easter Jr. (21-1, 14 KOs) faced each other to unify their WBC and IBF world titles, respectively.

Easter has held the IBF title since 2016, while Garcia won the WBC version in January 2017. Much has been said in the media (and on social media) in recent weeks about former featherweight Garcia wanting to move up to welterweight to fight one of the best world champions there, Errol Spence. Most people seem to think Garcia is crazy, which Mikey has said gives him even more motivation to do it. Regardless, Easter and his team have felt disrespected and overlooked, and they said that fueled them coming into this contest.

In round one, Easter did the expected by utilizing his much longer height and reach to keep Garcia outside. Easter jabbed consistently but missed the majority of his shots, seeming more focused on keeping Garcia from making an attempt to move in than landing his punches. When Garcia threw his first punch about halfway through the round, it was a jab that landed cleanly in Easter’s face. While Easter being much busier in the round, Garcia was economical yet landed the majority of what he threw.

In the second round, Mikey began getting a better handle on the distance and landed some solid combinations on Easter. After the first combo, it looked like Easter had lost his hold on the range equation, which was his biggest advantage and best shot at beating Garcia.

In round three, Garcia had Easter off balance for much of the round. Mikey landed a right hand that caught Easter and pulled him further off kilter, then Garcia followed it up with a beautiful left hook that dropped Easter. The IBF champion beat the count and Easter made it to the end of the round, but Mikey was on the inside until the bell rang.

In the middle rounds, Garcia came on further. Now that he had the distance under control, it mostly seemed to be his choice as to which punches to throw when. His combinations were beautifully put together and typically landed cleanly, whereas Easter missed most of his punches despite throwing more. Since scoring is based on clean, landed punches (not punches thrown), I had Garcia clearly ahead as the rounds progressed.

Easter had good ideas but his execution fell short. His reflexes were perhaps too slow, he wasn’t in the right position, and his feet aren’t as educated as Garcia’s. These things added up as the fight progressed and widened the gap in my opinion.

The sharp and consistent punching by Garcia began to take its toll on Easter. Round after round, Easter kept it competitive but was never able to find his footing. He seemed unsure as to why Mikey was able to land on him so much. In the ninth, Garcia landed almost at will and clearly wore Easter down. Referee Jack Reiss watched him closely as he walked to his corner after the bell.

Easter survived but the fight continued like that. Garcia landed more cleanly and landed a lot larger quantity of punches, while mostly having his way with ring geography and control. It was a dominant performance by Garcia, and a gutsy one by Easter, who showed a ton of heart.

The judges’ scorecards read 116-111, 117-110, and 118-109 for Mikey Garcia, who became the unified lightweight world champion tonight. The 116 scorecard by Edward Hernandez was a particularly odd one as I can’t imagine which four rounds Easter won. Regardless, the right fighter won.

Easter spoke with Showtime’s Jim Gray afterward. “He was just the better man tonight,” said Easter. “I want to tip my hat to him—a true warrior. We’ll go back to the drawing board—whether we win, lose, or draw, we go back to the drawing board.”

Said Mikey after the fight, “It’s a great accomplishment. I knew he was a tough champion, a true warrior. I prepared for the best Robert Easter. He came in and gave a great fight. I was the better fighter—I was in control most of the night, and I did what I had to do to win.

“I like to stay patient early on and figure out my opponent. Once I started getting that rhythm, I started getting to work.”

Garcia was asked about his desire to move up two divisions to face welterweight champion Errol Spence next. “I’m here for the biggest challenges. I don’t know if there’s anybody else who’s a bigger challenge than Errol Spence. I know he’s up for anybody. I think there’s a very high chance it can be made. I’m keeping my fingers crossed—I think that’s the next big fight coming up.

“I feel I have the power and skillset to compete in any division up to welterweight. He’s the most feared man so I want to challenge myself against him.”

Regardless of whether one thinks Garcia will win or lose against Spence, he should be praised for taking a legitimate risk during the prime of his career. In boxing, the term “daring to be great” is often thrown around, but it’s rare that it actually happens these days. Garcia, if he does move up to face Spence, will actually be doing it. Whatever happens, it’s a highly impressive move.

After the contest, Showtime’s Brian Custer spoke with Errol Spence about Garcia.

“Definitely I want that fight,” Spence said. “I feel like that’s the best fight available to me, with Shawn Porter and Danny Garcia fighting in September. It won’t be an easy fight. He would be number one pound-for-pound if he could beat me, but it’s not gonna happen. He’s technical and got good skills, but I’m technically sound too. I don’t see him hurting me at 147. I just see me winning, period.”

Heavyweights Luis Ortiz (29-1, 25 KOs) and Razvan Cojanu (16-4, 9 KOs) faced off in a 10-round co-main event. Despite the 3.5” height difference, the shorter Ortiz’s superior boxing skills showed themselves from the get go. He began catching Cojanu with his southpaw right hook before the opening round was halfway through.

Cojanu, though, has skills of his own and caught Ortiz with a shot or two. But it was undoubtedly Ortiz’s fight, who invested a bit in the body and landed some great hooks that bothered Cojanu.

In the second round, Ortiz delivered some of the most beautifully set up punches I’ve seen so far this year. He tossed a throw-away jab toward Cojanu, threw a solid right hook upstairs that landed cleanly and knocked Cojanu’s head over to Ortiz’s left. At that point he nailed Cojanu with a picture-perfect straight left that ended the fight. Cojanu went down heavily and the referee waved it off.

After the fight, Showtime’s Jim Gray spoke with Luis Ortiz.

“Five days ago we found out they found a cure for the disease she has,” Ortiz said about his young daughter who has been afflicted by epidermolysis bullosa (a condition that causes the skin to be fragile and blister easily). “My wife told me when I was getting on a plane to come here.”

Regarding the stoppage, Ortiz said, “It’s something we had been working on in the gym. After the Wilder sort-of loss, it’s something we’ve been working on a lot.”

In the first fight of the Showtime broadcast, contender Mario Barrios (22-0, 14 KOs) faced Jose Roman (24-3-1, 16 KOs) in a 10-round bout. While Barrios campaigns at junior welterweight and has since 2016, this fight was for the WBA Intercontinental welterweight title.

The boxers started somewhat tentatively but with carefully placed shots. Barrios neglected his normally busy jab a bit, instead opting for power shots, particularly to the body. Roman kept it competitive, landing the occasional shot and utilizing good handspeed and his veteran experience to keep Barrios at bay. A cut appeared over Barrios’ left eye during the opening round, but it appeared to be caused by an accidental head butt during an exchange.

The second and third rounds were close, with Roman making it clear he didn’t come to lose. In the fourth, Barrios caught Roman with a clean right hand to the chin that visibly hurt him. Barrios moved in with a flurry and finally dropped Roman with a left hook upstairs. Roman’s experience made itself apparent again, though, when he utilized angles and movement to survive. At the very end of the round, though, Barrios hurt him again when the bell rang.

Impressively, Roman continued and made things difficult for Barrios. As the middle rounds went on, Barrios focused on the body incredibly well and it paid in dividends as the fight progressed.

Barrios improved as the fight went on; he seemed a bit rusty in the early rounds but shook it off progressively. He began to use angles better and his defense improved as he went along, slipping more of Roman’s punches, particularly his dangerous hook.

In the eighth, the accumulation of punches on Roman took a further toll. Barrios landed another combination that hurt and dropped Roman, who beat the count but looked shaken. He survived the rest of the round, but thankfully his corner called it after the bell rang. It was the right call, and refreshing to see a corner do the right thing for their fighter.

“This is the furthest I’ve gone in a while. I feel I’m transitioning into the fighter I always thought I would be,” Mario said following the fight. Regarding his world class coach Virgil Hunter, who gave superb instruction in the corner as always, Barrios said, “I’m always trying to listen for his voice and it worked perfectly in this fight.”

Check out more of Caryn’s work at http://www.CarynATate.com and follow her on Twitter@carynatate

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  1. Koolz 01:48pm, 07/29/2018

    https://www.dailymotion.com/video/x6qlo16

    Easter was never a tough fight the guy lost to that Russian fighter under Sanchez but got the nod for the win.

    Garcia could not beat Lomachenko!

  2. Casanovita de Ahome 07:40am, 07/29/2018

    Great analysis…..punches landed count way too high for Easter…..Mikey picked off every Easter jab in the first round….throughout the fight he was jabbing the heck out of Mikey’s gloves. The only jabs that were clearly making contact were the ones to the belt line! Starting in the eighth Easter was fighting not to get KOd and he actually did a good job there with lots of upper body movement and rolling with shots that otherwise would have sent him on his way!

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