For boxing badass, Mikey Garcia, his already lofty list of accomplishments grew this past Saturday, with a 12-round unanimous decision over Robert Easter. In the process, Garcia unified a division for the first time, adding Easter’s IBF laurels to the WBC Lightweight crown he’s possessed since January 2017. Most notably, Mikey continued to ride the wave of curiosity he created; an improbable, end of the year pairing with Welterweight stud, Errol Spence. A crowd of at least 12,500 watched in person from Staples Center in Los Angeles, CA, while a peak viewing audience of 725,000 caught it live on Showtime Championship Boxing.
Easter (21-1, 14 KO’s) brought half of his hometown of Toledo, OH., with him to LA and came out firing jabs and 1-2’s confidently, from his gargantuan 76” reach. Looking to establish and maintain distance, Easter unloaded no fewer than thirty shots before Garcia launched one of his own. Normally a slow starter, Mikey was actually out-jabbing Easter by the middle of the 1st, and this certainly didn’t bode well. Affectionately known as “E-Bunny”, Easter’s jab kept going and going, ala, the famed Energizer bunny. Most were missing, but more than a few snapped Garcia’s head back and/or created enough range for Easter to land stiff straight rights to the body. Exercising his five-inch height and eight inch reach advantages was an apparent aspect of Team Easter’s strategy.
The pendulum abruptly shifted in the 3rd however, when a three-piece combo deposited Easter on his ass. Mikey shot a left jab, which moved Easter into a big right cross and a follow-up left hook to the jaw, resulting in the knockdown. Had there been more than 25 seconds remaining in the round, Garcia may have been able to record a second trip to the canvas, if not a KO. Easter continued to jab in the ensuing rounds, but having tasted the power, wasn’t as committed to it. This prompted Garcia to pick up the pace with his own stick, which was a site to behold; a short armed, 5’6 man successfully out-jabbing a longer armed, 6’0 man. It was a testament to Pugilistic skill and know-how. Mikey was also splitting Easter’s guard with 1-2’s of his own.
As Easter continued to jab away, Garcia feinted and/or jabbed his own way past it, and his hooks, crosses and sneaky uppercuts began swelling E-Bunny across both cheek bones and the bridge of his nose. By the 8th, Easter wasn’t exactly in full-blown survival mode, but he wasn’t going for broke either. The jab-cross, 1-2 combo repeatedly split his guard and rocked him on his heels. After the stanza, Easter’s corner pleaded with him to let his hands go, and to his credit, “E-Bunny” put forth an impassioned last stand. All in all, he exhibited a warrior’s heart and the discipline to adhere to a sound strategy; it just didn’t work.
By round 11 or so, attention shifted to the fact Errol Spence was in the building looking to “check his temperature” regarding the seriousness of Mikey’s incessant usage of his name. The scorecards themselves were academic, 116-111, 117-110 and 118-109, all for Garcia, who repeated the sentiments echoed all along; he wants to fight Spence by the end of 2018.
It’s a peculiar move to say the least; Spence is bigger, stronger, faster, younger, more athletic and every bit as fundamentally sound as Mikey is, if not more. Spence is the boogey man of the Welterweight division with the likes of Keith Thurman, Danny Garcia and Shawn Porter all tip-toeing around him, rather than rattle his cage. Says a lot that a significantly smaller man beat them to the punch and it’s a tangible example of Mikey’s ambition. Since his two-year hiatus from boxing, waiting for his contract with Top Rank to expire, Garcia’s spoken of making the biggest, most meaningful and challenging bouts possible. He’s found it!
And the fact no one thinks he can win makes him want Spence that much more.