Jerry Glick reporting from ringside: There are fights that show when a fighter comes of age, on this night WBO Jr. Lightweight Champion Mikey Garcia came of age. He took his time in the early rounds against top contender Juan Carlos Burgos. Got accustomed to his height and style, then proceeded to display his ability to handle any type of opponent by simply adjusting. This versatility is one facet of the makeup of a great fighter. This does not mean that young, 26 year old Garcia has established greatness yet, but he is well on his way. “He wasn’t engaging me as I expected him to, to come forward,” said a very happy Garcia after his big win. “He might have felt my power and decided it was too much of a risk for him.”
Top Rank Promotions attracted a full house of 4829 fans at The Theater at Madison Square Garden with a twin bill on HBO featuring a title fight in the main event along with two unbeaten heavyweight contenders in the co-feature.
In a WBO Jr. Lightweight title fight unbeaten Champion, Mikey Garcia, 129.2, started a little slow against the taller Juan Carlos Burgos, 129, but when he got his tempo going he dominated the fight. “His height and his reach were a little difficult,” explained the victor. “Once I found my rhythm, my timing, my distance everything went well.” It sure did, he outpunched and outboxed his lanky challenger.
No one appeared hurt except for one brief moment in the second frame when Burgos landed a left hook that nearly decked Garcia who stumbled backwards, but caught himself before his went down. Otherwise there were no knockdowns. In the second half of the fight it looked like Burgos, 30-2-2 (20 KOs), had fallen into a survival mode. Garcia, 34-0 (28 KOs), found the range for his jab which he often followed with a right that landed more often as the rounds passed by. The decision was lopsided,118-110, twice and119-111 Harvey Dock refereed.
In attendance was possibly Garcia’s next opponent, Yuriorkas Gamboa. After the fight Gamboa and boxing promoter 50 Cent entered the ring, “They were definitely looking for a fight,” said Garcia. “They know what to do. I got my promoter, he has his promoter, I’ll fight anybody. All we have to do is come to terms. We could put on the gloves right now and I’ll finish now if he wants to.” There is also some talk of him facing Manny Pacquiao. “That’s been brought up, but not in the immediate future,” said Mikey. “It has to be at a time when I’m ready. I have to move up a few weight divisions and a few things have to happen before that fight can come along.”
Two undefeated heavyweights, Bryant Jennings, 225, and Artur Szpilka, 223.6, battled each other for almost a full ten rounds. Early on Jennings, 18-0 (10 KOs), appeared to be trying to figure Szpilka out, “He was awkward in his movement,” explained Jennings, “ducking down real low.” He did eventually figure out his opponent, scoring a knockdown in the sixth with a hard shot to the solar plexus forcing the Polish heavyweight to go down to his knees. Up and shaky, he had to fend off a KO minded Jennings. They traded punches for the rest of the fight with Jennings the busier of the two until in the tenth and final round, when Jennings landed a powerful left hook to the face and Szpilka, 16-1 (12 KOs), went down hard. He bravely managed to get to his feet only to run into a buzzsaw as Jennings forced him to the corner where he pummeled him until referee Mike Ortega saved Szpilka from further punishment at 2:20 of the round.
Jennings added that he was going to the body when he landed the big punch that put Szpilka down, “I was trying to go to the body a little more but the way he was ducking down, he was making it a little awkward.” About Szpilka’s power, Jennings said simply, “What power?”
Undefeated, ranking light-heavyweight contender, Seanie Monaghan, 174, and rugged trialhorse Matt Vanda, 173.2, traded punches evenly until Monaghan, 20-0 (13 KOs), stepped up the pace and landed hard shots to Vanda’s body that hurt the heavily tattooed fighter. Suddenly Vanda, 45-16 ((24 KOs), stopped fighting indicating that his right arm was injured. It turns out that he tore his bicep causing the ring doctor to stop the fight at 2:51 of round one. Earl Brown refereed.
Julian Rodriguez, 141.4, landed a hard right that staggered Neyeine Muang, 143.2. He followed that up with an all out attack landing a left hook to the body that put Muang, 1-1-2 (0 KOs), down. With a pained look on his face he took referee Ortega’s ten count ending at 1:51 of round one of four. Rodriguez remained perfect with a 3-0 (2 KOs) record.
Hot prospect Felix Verdejo, 134.6, landed two punches, a right the chin of Lauro Alcantar, 135.2, and a brutal left hook to the jaw that put out the lights in only 21 seconds of the first frame. Referee Rosato did not count. The impressive Verdejo remains unbeaten at 10-0 (7 KOs), while Alcantar lost his “0”, and is now 8-1 (1 KO).
Undefeated, 12-0 (10 KOs), prospect Jesse Hart, 169, much taller and faster, did not give opponent Derrick Findley 168.2, a chance to get close. Veteran Findley, 20-12-1 (13 KOs), spent most of the fight in a defensive stance. He tried to get passed Hart’s long reach and quick combos to the head and body, but rarely was able to connect, or avoid Hart’s whipping hooks to the head. All three Judges agreed 60-54 for the winner by unanimous decision, Jesse Hart. Earl Brown refereed.
Alberto Machado, 126.6, got a little surprise from Nuwan Jayakody, 125.8, in the opening frame, when Jaykody, 2-4-1 (2 KOs), almost knocked him down with a right to the head, but the ropes held him up (should have been a knockdown). It went to naught when Machado, 6-0 (4 KOs), landed a crushing right in the second round that put his foe down. When Jayakody got up he was in no shape to continue so referee Gary Rosato wisely called it off at 1:34 of round two.
Francisco Vargas. 149, came out smoking. He threw combinations that started with the body, then he brought his punches up to the head of opponent, Eligio Lopez 146.4. Vargas, 2-0 (2 KOs), drove Lopez, 1-1 (1 KO), to the ropes over and over again, finally landing a straight right to the face that put Lopez on his back for the count at !:59 of the first of four rounds. Mike Ortega refereed.