Mikey Garcia is headed for legendary nights as a boxer, but on Saturday night, Garcia learned that your opponents have as much to do with you being a star as you do.
Garcia retained his WBO junior lightweight title with an easy unanimous decision win over Juan Carlos Burgos at the Theater at Madison Square Garden.
“In the early rounds, I was working on getting the right rhythm,” Garcia said. “Once I got that, I got a good pace. Burgos is a tough fighter, I expected him to go rounds, and he did.”
Garcia’s performance failed to live up to the massive hype and pressure that has been placed upon his shoulders. To some, Garcia is the future of Top Rank boxing, the heir apparent to Manny Pacquiao as one of the pound-for-pound kings in boxing.
During the first few rounds, Burgos seemed to frustrate Garcia by staying on the outside, boxing at distance and simply not allowing Garcia the opportunities to counter.
“I’ve grown a lot the last 9-10 months,” Garcia said. “I feel really good at 130 pounds, but 135 could be a good division for me. It depends on what type of fights are there.”
The gritty Mexican challenger even buckled Garcia with a hard left hand in the closing seconds of the second frame that almost caused the champion a flash knock down.
It was all Mikey Garcia from there.
The fight seemed to change in the third round after Garcia caught Burgos with a clean hook. Garcia took over the fight from there, as he stalked and pounded Burgos, who spent the rest of the night running.
Garcia won the fight by landing 29 percent (163-of-567) of his punches. He also landed 24 percent of his jabs (81-of-339) and 36 percent of power punches (82-of-228).
“In the early rounds, I was working on getting the right rhythm, timing and distance,” Garcia said. “Once I got that, I worked on fighting at a good pace. Burgos is a big tough fighter, I expected him to go rounds and it did.”
Garcia returned to the same venue where he won his first championship last January with a decision over Orlando Salido for the WBO featherweight title.
That fight ended in the eighth round after Garcia suffered a broken nose, but Garcia was dominant then, dropping Salido four times.
The evening was supposed to be a shining moment for Garcia, but raised questions with boxing experts about the champions actual star power.
Garcia is nice, humble, and quiet.
Those aren’t the necessarily the premium ingredients for a guy folks at Top Rank believes can be their next pay-per-view king. Garcia heard his share of boos in the bout, and will be blamed for not looking spectacular, regardless of how inferior Juan Carlos-Burgos was as a fighter.
The talk before the fight was about a Pacquiao-Garcia matchup at some point next year. That fight now looks to be a year or two away.
It was simply conversation by Top Rank because there aren’t any legitimate opponents for Manny just sitting around. Before he gets a date with Pacquiao, Garcia may fight Yuriorkis Gamboa.
Gamboa was sitting ringside with SMS promoter 50 cent and some were chanting his name during lulls in the action. Gamboa and 50 Cent actually tried to embarrass Garcia by getting up and leaving midway thru the early rounds of the bout. Were Gamboa and 50 bored?
Garcia brushed off the stunt and stated that Yuri just needs to sit down at the table like everyone else and negotiate.
“I will fight anyone,” Garcia said. “Gamboa knows what to do – sit down at the table and negotiate.”
“If he wants to make a deal, he can call my promoter and we can do it,” Garcia said. “I’m not avoiding any fights. We can put on gloves right now and finish it.”
Mikey Garcia has options, but can he truly become the star that Top Rank is banking on him to be?
That is the question.
Bryant Jennings Impresses In HBO Debut:
Over the last two years Byrant Jennings (18-0) has risen steadily up the ranks of the heavyweight division. Jennings, who still works a regular job as a mechanic for the federal reserve bank of Philadelphia, took another step towards legitmizing himself in the division.
Fighting on NBC Sports Network, Jennings has built a decent resume against some pretty good opponents. He added to that resume by pummeling an overmatched Artur Szpilka .
Szpilka was game but overmatched. He went down from a hard shot to the gut in the sixth round and was nearly knocked through the ropes in the tenth.
Jennings has pursued a fight against Wladimir Klitschko in the past, but may have to settle for a bout with Mike Perez instead.