Garcia pummels Easter to unify lightweight belts

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American boxer Mikey Garcia unified the WBC and IBF lightweight titles late on Saturday by overpowering Robert Easter Jr in a 12-round battle of undefeated champions.
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Reuters

Mikey Garcia (right) in action against Robert Easter Jr during their WBC and IBF world lightweight title fight at Staples Center in Los Angeles on Saturday. 

American boxer Mikey Garcia unified the WBC and IBF lightweight titles late on Saturday by overpowering Robert Easter Jr in a 12-round battle of undefeated champions.

The 30-year-old Garcia retained his WBC title and grabbed Easter’s IBF belt with a unanimous decision victory at Staples Center arena in downtown Los Angeles.

“It is a great accomplishment. Now we are back,” said Garcia. “I prepared for the best. He gave a great fight but I was in control most of the fight and did what I had to do to win.”

Garcia seized control of the fight early, flooring compatriot Easter in the third round with a left hook to the chin. It was just the second time in his career that Easter was knocked down.

“We wanted to land that right hand. It was a perfect punch around the chin,” Garcia said.

Easter recovered from the knockdown but failed to mount a sustained attack outside of using his jab, and was almost knocked down again in the ninth round.

Garcia is now 5-0 with two knockouts since returning from a 30-month exile from the sport due a battle with promoter Top Rank.

The three judges scored it 118-109, 117-110 and 116-111 as Garcia improved to 39-0 overall after this fight, which marks a return to the lightweight division. He won a junior welterweight belt in February but had to vacate it to face Easter.

Garcia immediately threw down the gauntlet to Errol Spence saying in the ring that for his next fight he wants to move up to the welterweight division to fight for Spence’s IBF belt.

“He is the most feared man and I want to challenge him,” said Garcia.

The 27-year-old Easter suffered the first loss of his career to drop to 21-1, with 14 KOs. He was making his fourth title defense of the vacant belt he won in 2016.

The lanky Easter, who had a 20-centimeter reach advantage, stuck to his game plan and hung in there to the final bell.

Garcia couldn’t get his first knockout since January 2017, but still delivered another outstanding performance. His victory in a unification bout put him in a rare collection of talents to accomplish the feat, including Roberto Duran, Julio Cesar Chavez, Pernell Whitaker and Oscar De La Hoya.

Earlier on the Showtime card at Staples Center, heavyweight Luis Ortiz (29-1, 25 KOs) landed a straight left hand that sent Romanian Razvan Cojanu (16-4) to the canvas and ultimately ended the fight in the second round in the co-feature.

Both fighters were coming off losses in heavyweight world title fights, and Ortiz was fighting for the first time since challenging Deontay Wilder earlier this year.

Mario Barrios (22-0, 14 KOs) recorded his sixth straight stoppage victory in the 8th round against Jose Roman (24-3-1).


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