In 2018, a number of boxers have made very strong claims to being the top pound-for-pound boxer in the world today, from Vasiliy Lomachenko to Terence Crawford, Naoya Inoue and recently Oleksandr Usyk. Add Mikey Garcia in that conversation for best pound-for-pound boxer after a dominant performance over Robert Easter Jr.
In a homecoming fight for Garcia, fighting in Los Angeles for the first time in seven years, the four-division champion defeated Easter in impressive fashion to unify the WBC and IBF lightweight title. Garcia won the bout, which took place in front of 12,560 fans at the Staples Center, by unanimous decision with scores of 116-111, 117-110 and 118-109. Fightful had scored the bout 119-108.
The fight headlined a Showtime Championship Boxing telecast in Los Angeles, bringing boxing in California for the second time in as many months. While the first one was an all-Mexican bout between featherweight stars Leo Santa Cruz and Abner Mares, this fight saw Garcia, a Southern California native, get the loudest of cheers throughout the night.
Easter started the fight decently well, attacking Garcia’s body with swift jabs thanks to his reach advantage, but those jabs didn’t seem to hurt Garcia. Garcia was patient in those first couple of rounds, not really risking anything by throwing any unnecessary punches and waiting for the perfect time to strike. That time came late in the third round.
Garcia started to be more aggressive in the third round and eventually found success by landing a left hook to Easter, knocking the much taller fighter down to the mat. After the knockdown, Garcia looked more lively, letting his hands go and able to throw flurries of punches and finding the mark.
After establishing his gameplan of working Garcia’s body with the jab, Easter never strayed too far from that offensive mindset, something that may have caused him dearly when it was all said and done. Easter never seriously hurt Garcia and never really put him in any sort of significant danger. Even when he arguably had his best round, the first round, it was more due to Garcia’s calculated and patient approach in figuring out what Easter was up too.
Garcia continued to dominate the fight and even when it was certain Garcia would emerge victorious in the cards, he tried to make the fight an entertaining scrap. He traded punches with Easter in the final round as Easter was in full survival mode and was looking for any way to knock Garcia and pull off the comeback.
"He was just a better man tonight,” Easter said after the fight. “I take my hat off to Mikey. He’s a true warrior. Whenever we step in the ring, we are both putting our lives on the line and tonight Mikey was victorious. I just couldn’t find the timing and I just couldn’t let my right hand go."
It was the first lightweight unification bout to be televised on Showtime since the 2005 classic between Diego Corrales and Jose Luis Castillo. Throughout the last couple of weeks, the network, and fans, drew potential parallels between this fight and the one from 2005. Although Garcia vs. Easter did not end up being the second coming of Corrales vs. Castillo, it did provide a clear-cut winner with a claim to the top spot on the pound-for-pound list.
But that was only half the story for Garcia. Even with the biggest challenge of his career to date, Easter was Garcia’s tallest opponent, another big opponent emerged as a potential opponent for Garcia: IBF welterweight champion Errol Spence Jr.
Garcia, who had become a four-division champion last March when he defeated Sergey Lipinets to win the IBF junior welterweight title, had publicly expressed interest in a fight against Spence in an effort to win a world title in five different weight classes.
With Easter out of the way, the stage has been set for Garcia to once again make the jump in weight and go for the biggest guy possible, which in this case is Spence.
“I’m here for the biggest challenges,” Garcia said to Showtime after his victory over Easter. “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.”
Such a monumental fight may come at the end of the year, as early as this November. But even with such a dream fight looming over the horizon, the night belonged solely to Garcia, who not only made a triumphant return to Los Angeles, but also inched closer to cementing his career as an all-time great one.