2018 is the year that keeps on giving. Another unification is on the horizon, a fact that seemed to be a fruitless wish amongst boxing fans in years gone by. Now we seem to be anticipating big title unifications every couple of months. The latest to add to the ever-growing list; Mikey Garcia vs Robert Easter, the mouth-watering clash between WBC world champion and pound-for-pound contender Garcia and Easter, the IBF world champion. Two undefeated world champions in one of boxings original eight weight classes are set to go head-to-head. It truly doesn’t get much better…
Mikey Garcia comes into the bout lauded as one of the best fighters in the world pound-for-pound, and for good reason. He currently boasts a stellar 38-0 record with 30 of those wins coming by way of knockout. In his most recent outing the 30-year-old Oxnard native stepped up to the 140lbs weight division to defeat the dangerous Sergey Lipinets and capture a world title in his fourth weight class, thus solidifying his spot among the best pound-for-pound fighters in the sport. Following the contest Garcia made the announcement that he would be relinquishing the 140lbs strap and returning to his lightweight stomping ground. Fans of the sport began to salivate in anticipation for a dream fight with fellow pound-for-pound contender Vasyl Lomachenko.
That as of now has been put on hold as Garcia attempts to add the IBF bauble to his ever-impressive trophy cabinet. With this clash against the dangerous and somewhat avoided Robert Easter Jnr, Garcia is risking a potential mega fight in the pursuit of proving that he is the best in the lightweight division without doubt. It is this risk that has elevated Garcia to fan favourite status, it is also this risk that boxing fans have craved and are now being given on a much more regular basis. A terrific, technically sound boxer-puncher, Mikey Garcia displays all the traits of a well-schooled fighter.
The Oxnard man has also displayed fight changing power in both hands and a ruthless streak that will see him press the action at the first sign of a wilting opponent. Garcia is such a diverse and adaptable fighter that it would seem near impossible to try to predict his tactics in a fight of this magnitude. Common boxing sense would dictate that Garcia, being the smaller man, would need to close the distance on Easter Jnr, go to the body hard and regularly and not allow Easter Jnr to make it a “boxing match” as such. However, with a fighter as talented as Garcia he may attempt to keep just outside the range of Easter Jnr and force him into a more unlikely position, having to come forward and initiate the attack.
Robert Easter Jnr comes into this bout as the reigning IBF champion. Having made three successful defences already, Easter has longed for an opponent that would catapult him into the next level. With this contest, Easter has everything he has ever wanted. The 27-year-old Easter brings to this contest along with his IBF strap, a 21-0 unblemished record with 14 wins via way of KO. An intimidating, towering figure in the lightweight division, the 5’11” Easter has struggled to get opponents that he feels match up to his standing within the sport.
Easter enters this contest on the back of his most controversial match up, a split decision win against the underrated Javier Fortuna. Following that contest the fans in attendance (along with the public watching at home) booed the decision. A second round point deduction had handed victory to Easter in a fight that many thought he deserved to lose. I myself give him the benefit of the doubt. Easter is a dangerous opponent that can both box and brawl. Content to sit on the back foot and sting his opponents with hurtful counters, Easter will take the initiative and come forward putting on pressure when he feels an opponent is ready to go. I find it hard to see a change of tactics from Easter in this one. It would seem Easter will look to come out and establish his range and distance behind his dominant jab, hoping to lay the foundation for hurtful power shots to follow. Should Garcia become frustrated or reckless then Easter may be inclined to open up with a more powerful assortment of shots.
This is a tremendous battle. One that pits two undefeated world champions against each other. One that forces two stylistically opposed fighters to square off to see who is superior. However, this could be a battle in which two intelligent fighters pit their wits against each other and adjust on the fly. With two world titles on the line, this is high stakes. The winner will surely be heading towards a collision with Vasyl Lomachenko. The loser will be heading back to become president of the “who needs him club?” A hungry fighter is a dangerous fighter, Saturday July 28 we will see two of the most talented and hungriest go head-to-head.
2018 we cannot thank you enough.