If the first half of the 2018 fistic calendar could be summed up in a word, that word would be “unification”. Champions daring to be great, risking everything against other champions. Anthony Joshua vs. Joseph Parker, Jarrett Hurd vs. Erislandy Lara, Vasyl Lomachenko vs. Jorge Linares and Oleksandr Usyk vs. Murat Gassiev are shining examples of what the earlier months of this year produced. While it remains to be seen what the latter portion brings, Mikey Garcia and Robert Easter, Jr. will add to the burgeoning list of unification bouts this Saturday, July 28th. Premier Boxing Champions presents this pairing, which will broadcast live on Showtime Championship Boxing from Staples Center in Los Angeles, California.
Mikey Garcia (38-0, 30 KO’s) is certainly one of the ten best fighters in the world, pound for pound, and probably one of the five best. Just 30 years of age, Garcia’s captured titles at 126, 130, 135 and 140, but has yet to unify a division. This is just the type of legacy enhancer Mikey seeks, so putting his WBC Lightweight championship on the line was a no-brainer. Robert Easter, Jr. (21-0, 14 KO’s), alternate on the 2012 U.S. Olympic Boxing team, has defended his IBF 135-pound laurels three times and not only wants to consolidate belts, he wants a spot among prizefighting’s A-lister’s. It’s an exclusive club Mikey’s already a member of.
Those picking Garcia to win cite Easter’s lukewarm title winning performance, ensuing defenses and the fact he doesn’t control distance all that well, despite perpetual advantages in height/reach. Easter supporters will immediately reference he’s 5’11 with heavyweight reach and Mikey’s just 5’6 in height, eight inches shorter in reach. There’s also the fact Garcia speaks openly and frequently about his plans beyond Easter; most notably, a seemingly ill-advised pursuit of Errol Spence and his 147-pound crown. There’s also Lomachenko, a fellow titlist at 135 and arguably the best fighter in the world, regardless of weight class.
Easter’s enlisted the services of Kevin Cunningham, whose presence recently paid dividends for Adrien Broner and Gervonta “Tank” Davis. Being tight with both, it only made sense for Easter to follow suit for the biggest bout of his career. But it’s this maiden voyage into world class, elite level events that could be his undoing. Cunningham will undoubtedly whip Easter into the best shape he’s ever been in and he’ll embolden his fighter to the brink of a Jedi mind trick, all but assuring him of victory. But it won’t matter. Mikey Garcia’s a higher caliber prizefighter than Robert Easter Jr. It may take a round or three to acclimate to the range and length disparity, but Garcia’s timing, footwork and single shot power at Lightweight should be the difference by the 9th or 10th.