Four-division champion hands Easter his first loss, calls out welterweight titleholder Errol Spence Jr.
LOS ANGELES — When Mikey Garcia and Robert Easter finished weighing in Friday, Easter laughed as he pointed at Garcia's soft midsection, while flexing his own eight-pack. On Saturday night in front of 12,560 fans at the STAPLES Center, it was Mikey Garcia who got the last laugh.
Garcia (39-0, 30 knockouts) continued to stake his claim as being the best pound-for-pound fighter in the world, unifying his WBC lightweight title with Easter's IBF belt following a lopsided twelve-round master class performance.
"I told you guys I was coming for bigger things and now we’re one step closer to achieving that," Garcia said after the victory.
After a slow first round that could have been shaded to Easter (21-1, 14 KOs), it was pretty much all Garcia the rest of the way. He applied pressure brilliantly -- without throwing punches, but by utilizing his world-class footwork to trap Easter in corners and on the ropes. It was there that Garcia was able to land left hooks almost at will, getting them behind the high guard of Easter.
A right hand-left hook in the third round deposited Easter on the seat of his pants. Though Easter may have been outclassed Saturday, he fought on gamely, taking punishment in the form of crisp and accurate combinations from Garcia.
Easter had his moments. He was controlling the sixth and seventh rounds with his jab, but in both stanzas, Garcia stole the round with heavy barrages in the final 30 seconds that left a more lasting impression.
The highlight of the fight was an action-packed ninth round. Easter was able to trap Garcia on the ropes and land a big combination that looked for a second like it stunned him. But Garcia came back, landing another accurate barrage that culminated in a left hook to the body that stopped Easter in his tracks. Easter didn't throw another meaningful punch in the remaining minute of the round and seemed dejected as he went to his corner.
Garcia tried to close the show without his opponent seeing the final bell but came up short. Steve Weisfeld had it 118-109, Larry Hazzard Jr had it 117-110, and Edward Hernandez Sr scored it a bit too close at 116-111.
"He gave a great fight but I was the better fighter," Garcia said. "I was in control of the fight and I did what I had to do to win."
Garcia outlanded Easter 176-to-129, with a 99-to-40 edge in power shots.
"He was just a better man tonight, Easter said. "I take my hat off to Mikey. He’s a true warrior."
Garcia has his sights set on welterweight—specifically IBF champion Errol Spence Jr. in what is unquestionably one of the biggest fights that can be made in boxing. Many feel as though Garcia would be biting off more than he can chew by seeking that fight, but he said in the ring that's the fight he wants.
“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."
"I feel like that’s the best fight available for me right now with Shawn and Danny fighting in September," Garcia said after the fight. "Keith Thurman is still recovering and needs a tune up."
"He will be pound-for-pound No. 1 if he beats me," Spence added. "But it’s not going to happen. He has great skills, but I see myself winning."
Easter has no reason to hang his head—he was overmatched by a generational talent in Garcia.
"We go back to the drawing board," Easter said of what's next. "Whenever we win, lose, or draw we go back to the drawing board and we work hard."
"Some nights are better than others," said Easter's trainer Kevin Cunningham, who was working with him for the first time. "He is young. He will be back. He showed a lot of heart tonight."
For Garcia, the sky is the limit. And he seems determined to shoot for the stars.
Ortiz stops Cojanu; Barrios stays perfect
Heavyweight Luis Ortiz (29-1, 25 KOs) shook off his first defeat as a loss by scoring a startling second-roun knockout of Razvan Cojanu (16-4, 9 KOs). Ortiz landed a thudding shot, which Cojanu tried to get up from but fell forward multiple times.
Ortiz moved around like a middleweight before ultimately landing the knockout blow.
“Those are things that my trainer and I have been practicing at the gym," Ortiz said after the fight. "I put into action the plan my trainer and I put together and it worked flawlessly."
Junior welterweight Mario Barrios (22-0, 14 KOs) took another step towards entering the upper-level at 140 pounds on Saturday night.
Barrios proved his opponent Jose Roman (24-3-1, 16 KOs) was overmatched, using his strength and superior skills to batter game but outgunned Roman. After eight lopsided rounds, Roman's corner chose to stop the fight.
Roman visited the canvas in the fourth round following a heavy barrage by Barrios. He would later go down again in the eighth round, and the one-sidedness of the bout was enough to convince Roman's corner it was time to call it a day.
For a complete look at Garcia vs Easter, check out our fight page.