LOS ANGELES – Mikey Garcia had won world titles in four weight classes, rising close to the top of the boxing pound-for-pound list and placed himself in position for some big fights. But one thing had eluded him – a union struggle.
Until Saturday, that is, when he put on a dominant achievement, Robert released Easter Jr. and easily distinguished him to reconcile two 135 pound world titles before an adoring crowd of 12,560 at the Staples Center.
Garcia, who now has his eye going on to win back later this year to challenge the world's title keeper Errol Spence Jr., won the scorecards 118-109, 117-110 and 116-111 in a match where he knocked Easter in the third round. ESPN also made the fight for Garcia 1
"It's a good achievement," said Garcia about lonely belts. "Now we're back. I told you I'd come for bigger things and now we're one step closer to achieving it. I knew he was a tough opponent He's a tough warrior He gave a good fight, But I was the better fighter. I had control of the match and I did what I had to win to win. "
Last time Luis" King Kong "Ortiz fought, he was the one who was beaten. This time, the heavy title competitor made Rapid work by Razvan Cojanu.
Garcia did it in front of Spence, which was the ring page on a scout mission.
"It's a big game. It's the biggest fight I can get right now, says Spence." It's a big game. It's an easy game to do. "Showtime is on board. Our management is on board. This year, hopefully, November or December."
Garcia has won world titles on spring weight, junior lightweight and in February Sergey Lipinets excelled for a junior welterweight belt to go with legends Manny Pacquiao and Juan Manuel Marquez in winning world titles of 126, 130, 135 and 140 pounds.
But Garcia quickly left that title to return to ease for the one-time opportunity for Easter, who made his fourth defense.
"This was a good experience for Mikey," says Robert Garcia, Mikey's elder brother and coach. "Mikey was once united. It was a good fight against a very hard opponent. Robert had the height and gained advantage and it was quite difficult. Mikey hit the match as he needed. It was a bit difficult, but Mikey dominated most of the rounds and did what he needed to win. "
Garcia made the first defense of the title he won 18 months ago by strengthening Dejan Zlaticanin with a peak-right knockout in the third round in January 2017. Some questioned if he could comfortably make 135 pounds after having had two consecutive races in the junior welterweight division, but he seemed strong and fast against Easter.
"He was just a better man tonight. I'm taking my hat to Mikey," said Easter. "He's a true warrior. As we enter the ring, we put both of our lives on the line and tonight Mikey was victorious. I could not find the timing and I could not let my right hand go. " According to CompuBox punch statistics, Garcia landed 176 of 555 punches (32 percent) and Easter landed 129 out of 507 (25 percent). Of Easter's total, 89 of 343 jabs, but production fell in later stages.
Easter, in his first match with new head coach Kevin Cunningham, showed exactly what his game plan would be from the opening bell, which was to use his 8-inch range to keep Garcia at the end of his jab and also go to the body, which he did efficiently early.
Garcia (39-0, 30 KOs), 30, Moreno Valley, California, picked up the beat in the second round as he tried to gather the higher Easter and work him on the inside, but Easter (21-1, 14 KOs), 27, in Toledo, Ohio, could mostly hold him down with his jab. But he could not keep it during the game.
"I like being patient early. He had a good playing field to use that range. When I started to get into the rhythm we took control. had to wait my time, said garcia. "He's got a good handshake, so I just have to be patient and careful. I'm more experienced. I'm a hungry."
Garcia had a very good third round and became even better when joining a three-punch combination – jab, right hand and a hard left hook – losing Easter with a few seconds left. He hit the bill but took a few more shots when the round ended.
"He grabbed me with a clean shot and I went down, but I went up like a true champion," claimed. "We go back to the drawing board. When we win, lose or draw, we go back to the drawing board and we work hard."
Garcia continued to claim in the fourth round and forced back Easter and worked over with an assortment of combinations. The match was also after five runs on two of the three scorecards, but Garcia took over.
When the battle struck, the steam evaporated and became a more stationary goal. Garcia moved forward and stopped jabs and right-handed by Easter, which went into full retreat mode in the eighth round.
The ninth round brought the crowd to the feet as the two acted hard punches during a widespread and hard shift that saw Garcia landing some punishing left hooks on the Easter body while the Easter forced his left hand down the middle as the audience sang "Mikey! Mikey! Mikey! "
Garcia pounded Easter in the 10th. He swung his head with flush and forced him to the ropes before landing combinations upstairs. It was more of the same in the 11th round as the easter threw the ropes for long distances and took a penalty.
"The difference was this was Roberts first really big match," said Cunningham. "Mikey Garcia is one of the best fighters in the sport. There are some things that have to be tweaked. This was my first camp with him and there are still some things that need to be worked out and leveled out. Be champion again.
" Some nights is better than others. He is young. He will be back. He showed a lot of heart tonight. "
After the 11th ring, Robert Garcia told his brother that he did not do anything stupid in the final round, and while he did not take any players, he took it on Easter and landed more clean punches during Easter showed no hurry. Garcia expired him 95-34 in total stroke over the last four rounds.
With the belts united and no other great easy or even junior welterweight match available to him, Garcia is stuck on losing weight to face the dangerous Spence (24- 0, 21 KOs), 28, by DeSoto, Texas, also one of the boxing's best pound-for-pound fighters.
"I'm better than ever. I'm at my beginning. "Garcia said." I'm here for the biggest challenges. I do not know if there is anyone who is a bigger challenge than Errol Spence. I know he's going to fight for everyone, so let's make it happen. I think it can be done. I think it's the next big game to come up.
"I feel that I have the power and the competency to compete in any partition to weight loss. He is the toughest guy on weekends so I want to meet him."