Boxing Preview: Mikey Garcia fights for Legacy, “Pitufo” world title hopeful
Mikey Garcia – BIG FIGHTS AWAIT, Showtime, 7:00 PM PST
4-division world champion Mikey Garcia is in the prime of his career and his Los Angeles, CA homecoming against IBF lightweight world champion Robert Easter Jr. on Saturday, July 28th at the Staples Center appears to be one of the noteworthy moments of what seems to be the beginning of the last chapter of Garcia’s career.
It is no secret that the 30-year-old, Garcia, is now approaching the money era of his career and as he is looking towards big fights on the horizon. Robert Easter is a world champion, but in many regards, he is an underachiever to a certain extent as Easter was a promising prospect who never really improved since winning an IBF lightweight world title against Richard Commey. If anything he has found himself in multiple competitive fights against Denis Shafikov and Javier Fortuna as he is struggling to separate himself from his opposition.
Leading into the bout, Garcia is the favorite, but the venue of Los Angeles, a place in which Garcia never got to fight for the majority of his tenure at Top Rank makes this a fitting mark to the latter half of his career as his last fight in Los Angeles was in this very building in 2011.
Garcia is one of the four best fighters in the world along with Terence Crawford, Vasyl Lomachenko and Errol Spence Jr., the major goal of this bout appears to not just stay in that conversation, but have a compelling environment and atmosphere that mirrors environments Crawford and Spence have fought at home, as well as possible, put himself into the conversation to land one of these bouts.
It is odd to write about a fight without focusing on the fight, but the fight is the fight for this bout. Easter will more than likely win some rounds and be dangerous, but Mikey Garcia is far too disciplined to play into Easter’s hands of exchanging and despite Easter being the much bigger man, Easter has never shown at the highest level the ability to use his distance to his advantage. In short, Easter is a body puncher who believes so much in his power he negates what appears to the outside to be Easter’s biggest advantage of his long arms which leads to a reach advantage.
Interesting enough, Garcia will be fighting at the Staples Center, a week before the UFC, the fledgling fight promotion which has seen better days since a sale of their company has created a more business model approach to their sport. Why is this interesting? The UFC has no real born and breed, Los Angeles-based fighters on their card, so Garcia’s gate numbers and attendance should be comparable and best case scenario better than the UFC’s fight card next week.
For Garcia, one of the best business minds in the sport of boxing, this card is just as much about the action in the ring as it is for what the future holds as Garcia needs a win to await a very interesting and possibly transcendent fight.
With all that being said, in theory, Easter has the faster hands and a long rangy body-type that Mikey Garcia hasn’t seen since maybe Juan Carlos Burgos in 2014, a fight Garcia dominated. This bout is not quite a showcase fight but appears on paper to be a homecoming for Garcia.
Lightweight Karlos Balderas, who was 2016 U.S. Olympian, will fight on the Showtime Extreme telecast, but might be the most interesting fighter on the card outside of Garcia as he has the potential to be the next major Mexican-American fighter in the United States. Balderas will look to further his cause as one of the most compelling stories.
Get to know Balderas better by watching this feature on him here.
Mario Barrios will be the opening bout of the card as he fights Jose Roman in his first major step-up bout in his super lightweight tenure. Barrios is a fighter who now trains with Virgil Hunter and those around him have very high hopes for his career as since joining Hunter’s stable, he has won every fight by way of knockout.
“King Kong” Ortiz
Luis Ortiz’s career has been a strange one and things are now getting stranger after his highly watched technical knockout defeat to WBC heavyweight champion Deontay Wilder, Luis Ortiz now finds himself fighting on the undercard of a fight card on the other side of the country from Florida, where he trains. Ortiz, a talented fighter, fits the modus operandi of a fighter who can’t catch a break as even with decent fanfare and skills, he is just void of luck or opportunity to parlay success into multiple fights of note. Ortiz will do battle with Razvan Cojanu, best known for being featured in the Boxcino tournament on ESPN, awhile back.
Ortiz is a fighter worthy of a watch, even though it feels as though he will be on the b-side against marquee fighters in the future.
“Pitufo” Diaz vs. Ito, 3:30 PST PM, ESPN+
Undefeated Puerto Rican contender Christopher “Pitufo” Diaz hopes that he can add his name to the lineage of great Puerto Rican boxers from the ‘Island of Enchantment’.
Diaz will fight Japanese veteran Masayuki Ito for the vacant World Boxing Organization (WBO) junior lightweight title on July 28 at the Kissimmee Civic Center, this Saturday. That being said, like all title fights, this isn’t a cake walk. Diaz at his best is a violent puncher and at his worst is a brawler, who can find his feet stuck in the mud. Ito has a good right hand and a knockout streak, that could shatter Diaz’s dream.
“I am prepared for my first chance to win a world title because I’ve been through many years of sacrifices, and I have waited all my life for this moment. Now the moment is here. I’m hungry and focused. On July 28, Puerto Rico will have a new world champion.” Diaz said.
Diaz won the vacant NABO junior lightweight title last December with a third-round knockout of Bryant Cruz, knocking Cruz down five times en route to the stoppage, the bout pole vaulted Diaz over Andy Vences and Erick De Leon as the #1 contender in the division seemingly from such a violent performance. Diaz returned once again, March 17 on the Jose Ramirez-Amir Imam undercard at The Hulu Theater at Madison Square Garden as he defeated an awkward Braulio Rodriguez via fourth-round TKO. The win was what Diaz wanted, but at the same time saw Diaz getting outboxed in spots, often.
As Diaz, a proud Puerto Rican looking to bring a title to his country, not unlike fellow countryman Alberto Machado, who fought on HBO last week, Diaz seems to be fighting for his country and people
“I have a tough fight against Masayuki Ito, but I am very focused. I know I have all of Puerto Rico in my corner,” Diaz said.
Ito (23-1-1, 12 KOs), from Tokyo, is the WBO’s No. 2 junior lightweight contender. He has won seven consecutive bouts since the lone defeat of his career, a 10-round majority decision to then-undefeated Rikki Naito in February 2015. Ito, who has fought all of his professional bouts in Japan, has won four of his past five bouts via knockout, including a ninth-round stoppage of Lorenzo Villanueva in April of last year.
Ito has improved and is incredibly durable as he is an accumulation puncher, who forgoes accuracy for quantity.
While most fight fans might tune into the more marquee fight of Mikey Garcia vs. Robert Easter Jr., Diaz vs. Ito might be the more competitive bout, that could create a future contender in one of the most packed divisions in boxing.
Diaz vs. Ito is promoted by Top Rank Inc. and will take place at 6:30 PM EST/ 3:30 PM PST on ESPN+
“Tito” Bracero on TR card?
Gabriel “Tito” Bracero will fight on the co-main event of the Top Rank card. It is very interesting since he was supposed to fight Jose Ramirez about a year and a half ago. Could Bracero fighting on a Top Rank card signal that he will be used for either Ramirez or Saucedo in the future or even a welterweight like Carlos Adames?
We think so, and though he isn’t the most known fighter he is a compelling opponent.
It is also important to note that Carlos Adames was originally set to be featured on the card, but was forced out.
Whyte vs. Parker, U.K., no U.S. tv
Dillian Whyte is making a silent campaign this year and has the chance to be in the running for not just a big fight, again, but awards, as well as his win over Lucas Browne, propelled him to the elite of the division and now he will face a man who gave Anthony Joshua all he could handle and dethroned Hughie Fury as Joshua Parker is a true top 5 heavyweight.
The bout is interesting as Parker is incredibly fast and though he is not the most enigmatic heavyweight, he is skilled and won’t beat himself. Whyte has yet to be seen if that is the case for him as he has looked amazing like his last fight, but also gone life or death with Derrick Chisora.
Whyte’s major problem at this point is the fact that he hasn’t been able to separate from his competition at a certain point. For Whyte to reach the next plateau of the division, he needs to not just separate, but make a statement.
Katie Taylor, Chisora
More than likely the best women’s boxer in the world, Katie Taylor who has yet to lose a round as professional will defend her IBF and WBA lightweight world titles. Taylor is seemingly waiting for Mikaela Mayer and Selina Barrios to be ready as she awaits major fights in the future.
Derrick Chisora will face Carlos Takam on the undercard in a bout that keeps serviceable heavyweights active on the undercard that could set-up a bout with the main event fighters, if something happens, like uh, Anthony Joshua vs. Deontay Wilder.
Kimura, flyweight champ
WBO flyweight champion Sho Kimura will look to make a title defense in China over the weekend. Kimura got a technical knockout over Zou Shiming, the well knoChinesesse world champion, who accumulated a lot of money for those involved. This will be Kimura’s second title defense of the WBO title.
“Baby” Juarez vs. Mario Andrade – Friday, Telemundo
In a solid battle between two veterans who are going to throw a lot of punches at the junior flyweight division, Saul “Baby” Juarez will do battle with Mario Andrade on Telemundo in a fight that could create an opponent, but will more than likely just be an enjoyable bout for those who watch.