By Anthony George
Mikey Garcia grabbed the WBC lightweight championship Saturday night with an explosive knockout over Dejan Zlaticanin in front of a raucous crowd at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, NV.
Zlaticanin entered to the high octane, jolting tune of ACDC’s T.N.T.; however, his game plan was quickly diffused. Zlaticanin stalked from the outset, but Garcia controlled distance with his snakelike jab. In round two Garcia began to mix hard shots behind a steady diet of jabs.
Most notably the right uppercut.
It was that uppercut, followed by a vicious overhand right, that scored a brutal knockout for Garcia at 2:21 of round three. Zlaticanin was knocked unconscious, putting a halt to the celebratory atmosphere.
Thankfully, Zlaticanin woke up, and appeared OK. Mikey and his trainer, brother Danny Garcia, showed a whole lot of class by checking on Zlaticanin.
The victory gives Garcia his third world title in three different weight classes.
Garcia’s victory was impressive for two reasons: 1) Zlaticanin was never knocked down, or even reportedly hurt, in 22 previous fights. 2) Garcia did not appear to lose anything after a layoff that was close to 2 ½ years, he fought Elio Rojas back in July, but Rojas was coming off a long layoff as well.
Zlaticanin was an active, undefeated world champion, who has defeated quality opposition; he looked lost in there against Garcia and his rapid combinations.
When asked about the layoff, Garcia said, “I was always in shape, always active. The layoff allowed me to reignite that fire.”
Garcia spoke of his future plans.
“I want to unify titles” and “Possibly” move up to 140 pounds by the end of the year.”
The other lightweight champions are Jorge Linares, Terry Flanagan and Robert Easter Jr. The fight was Showtime Championship Boxing’s co-main event.
With the victory, Garcia improves his record to 36-0, (30KO’s), while Dejan Zlaticanin falls to 22-1, (15 KO’s).