SANDOR MARTIN pulled off a shock win over Mikey Garcia at Chukchansi Park in Fresno on Saturday night.
Garcia is viewed as one of the elite operators in world boxing today. The Californian afterall had only lost once before, and that was to Errol Spence at welterweight, and he’s beaten an array of top tier talent at featherweight, super-featherweight, lightweight and super-lightweight.
But Martin (143½lbs) was not overawed by his reputation. The Spanish southpaw moved off initially but could catch Garcia (144lbs) coming in with his sharp backhand left.
Garcia still advanced, linking shots together, firing hard left hooks to the head. But Martin pivoted away behind a good lead right hook.
In the fifth round Garcia brought in heavier shots. Martin, a European champion before, had not competed at this kind of level previously. But he managed to raise his game.
Garcia still attacked vigorously in the ninth round, trying to shake up Martin. But the man from Barcelona stood up to the assaults and finished the 10th and last round with his back on the ropes but ripping in excellent short hooks, connecting with those punches.
Martin was the unexpected winner on a majority decision. Zachary Young had them level at 95-95 after 10 rounds but both Carla Caiz and Fernando Villarreal scored it 97-93 to Martin.
“It’s the biggest moment of my career,” Martin said afterwards. “I said all along that I was going to do it, and I did it.
“I know myself, I know my ability. I’ve been fighting since I was five years old and always believed in myself.”
This loss upends Garcia’s future plans. He’ll want to rectify the result with a rematch, perhaps over the championship distance next time.
“He fought a very good fight, with his boxing,” Garcia said. “I thought I did what was necessary to close the gap, apply pressure and look for a fight. He was the one moving around the ring a lot. He was looking to counter a few times but I was the one actually looking for a fight.
“He didn’t beat me up, I’m not bruised up or anything. It was a competitive fight, I thought I was winning the fight in a close matchup but the judges saw it the other way around. I knew he was a very good boxer. That’s why I kept coming forward, but I knew I couldn’t be reckless, either.
“I still thought I did enough to win. He kept moving around the ring. The judges this time thought he was in control. I thought I was in control.”