By John J. Raspanti
Mikey Garcia added the IBF lightweight title to his growing resume by dethroning previously undefeated Robert Easter Jr. by unanimous decision at a rocking Staples Center in Los Angeles, CA Saturday night.
All three judges had Garcia winning the fight by scores of 118-109, 117-110 and 116-111.
Maxboxing scored the fight 117-110 for Garcia.
It took Garcia (39-0, 30 KOs) a few rounds, but eventually he figured out what he needed to defeat Easter.
Easter said before the fight he would box and box some more. He did. He used his significant advances in height and reach to stab Garcia with jabs.
Garcia, a natural counterpuncher, had to chase Easter and time the taller man. It wasn’t easy. His quick jab did find Easter’s face. The complexion of the fight changed in round three when Garcia was able to get under Easter’s wingspan and land some crisp body shots.
Later in the stanza, fighting on the inside, Garcia,30, tagged Easter (21-1, 14 KOs) with a right left combination that sent the Toledo, OH native to the canvas for the second time in his career. Easter got up with a shocked look on his face. He had said before the fight that Garcia was overrated. He likely didn’t believe that anymore.
“He caught me with a good shot and I went down,” said Easter. “But I got up, like a true champion, a true warrior.”
Easter,27, was back to moving laterally in round four, but Garcia popped him a stiff jab and a solid left hook. With his hometown crowd chanting, “M i k e y,” Garcia stalked and rocked in the next few rounds.
Whenever he forced Easter into the ropes, he made him pay. Easter connected with a solid right in round six, but his jab was his best friend.
Problem was, Garcia was doing the better work. He landed a sweeping right hook in round seven.
Easter got off his bicycle in round nine and rumbled with Garcia. Perhaps he could feel his title slipping away.
He landed a grazing right hand and a few other blows, but nothing bothered Garcia-who landed the harder and more telling shots.
In the final rounds, Garcia out-landed Easter by a 95-34 clip.
“It’s a great accomplishment being here in L.A.,” Garcia said. “I was in control most of the fight, and I did what I had to do. I knew he was a tough opponent. He’s a tough warrior. He gave a great fight but I was a better fighter. I was in control of the fight and I did what I had to do to win.”
Garcia wants to move back up to welterweight in his next fight.
“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 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.”
Spence is game.
“I’m definitely licking my chops,” said Spence to a group of writers after the fight. “I’m excited.”
That makes two of us.