The world of fight sports wrapped up the month of July with a busy weekend that featured some top tier talent in the boxing ring, as well as UFC’s penultimate event on Fox before their deal comes to a close at year’s end. In the squared circle, WBC Lightweight Kingpin and pound-for-pound great Mikey Garcia (38-0) squared off with undefeated IBF Champion Robert Easter Jr. to unify their belts. Inside the Octagon, a bevy of former UFC champions populated the main card, as former LW Champion Eddie Alvarez and Dustin Poirier looked to bring closure to their rivalry. Let’s take a look at all the marquee bouts from an action packed weekend, and what we have to look forward to.
Mikey Garcia vs Robert Easter Jr.
At 38-0, Garcia has established himself as one of the best fighters in the world. Currently the Lightweight and Welterweight divisions are as deep as we’ve seen them in a long time, and a plethora of undefeated fighters look to stake their claim as the top pound for pound fighter in the world. With a pronounced height and reach advantage, the undefeated Easter Jr (21-0) would look to unseat boxing’s new golden boy. Here is a round by round break down of the WBC and IBF Lightweight Championship Unification bout between Garcia and Easter, complete with scoring.
– Garcia establishing his jab early even with a reach disadvantage. Paulie and Al credit it to his timing. Easter using his jab well as well. Easter looks as though he’s trying to counter Mikey on the way in. With the reach disadvantage, Mikey will need to push in, and Easter is looking to counter. It is clear early on that speed will be a big factor in this matchup, determining whether Garcia is able to move in with his jabs and strikes, or if Easter is able to catch him with counters, and snipe from the outside. 10-9 Easter.
– Easter throwing long straight punches from range, along with tight counter hooks. Garcia is pushing forward early on, but not throwing much other than on the counter. Easter is on the back foot but still using range well. Garcia continues to push forward, but isn’t moving into range. Through 2 rounds, it seems Mikey is looking to gauge Easter’s range and timing in order to figure out a game plan for rounds four and on. Look for Garcia to really turn it on in round four. It’s very close through two rounds, I’ll give them both to Easter. 10-9 Easter. 20-18 Easter.
– Easter continues to poke with jabs and straight rights to the body. Garcia continues to push forward but still isn’t letting much go. Mikey opens up in the final minute, before dropping Easter with a big left hook with 30 seconds to go. Easter holds on as Mikey lands another big left. 10-8 round for Mikey makes it 28-28 through 3.
– Crowd is erupting for “Mikey”. Easter looks far more hesitant now after getting touched. In a way, Mikey resembles a smaller Tyson: bobbing and weaving his taller opponents straight punches, while absorbing body blows before erupting with sensationally fast counter hooks and power pressure. As predicted, Garcia is turning up the heat. 10-9 Mikey. 38-37 Garcia.
– Easter seems to be struggling to figure out a new strategy. He continues to attack with jabs and straights rights, alternating from the head to the body, but Garcia is unfazed by the shots, and instead is pushing right through with power punches. Though the smaller fighter, Garcia has his range down perfectly, staying outside of Easter’s long punches, while expertly slipping inside for his counters. 10-9 Mikey. 48-46 Garcia
– Easter continues with the same approach of alternating his jab to the head and body. The punches are landing, but they’re doing no damage to Garcia. As Paulie says, a jab “is the set up offense”. But Easter hasn’t set anything up. Needs to start throwing some more varying hooks or uppercuts. Garcia continues to land the more effective strikes. Garcia blitzes Easter with 30 seconds to go. Hard to determine if Mikey did enough there to win a close round. 10-9 Easter. 57-56 Mikey.
– Mikey seems to be waiting until the final minute of each round to really get going. He has no fear of the power from Easter’s straight punches, allowing Mikey to push forward with his own jab and land follow up hooks. Easter is landing well, but with little significance, as Mikey continues to push forward with his offense. 10-9 Mikey. 67-65 Garcia.
– Crowd suddenly seems to be growing restless. May be upset by Easter fighting off the back foot. This is a smart strategy by Easter, forcing Garcia to chase around after him, although neither fighter is landing much, and it seems unlikely that Garcia will tire. Easter is 100% employing a rope-a-dope strategy this round. Although not much happened, easy 10-9 round for Garcia. 77-74 Mikey. Easter was on the back foot all round, possibly trying to tire out Garcia, or just get his energy back, but inevitably surrendering the round. *Lowest number of punches thrown by Easter in a round in his career.
– Both guys come out unloading here. Mikey is cut on the lip. Easter looks tired in the final minute, as Mikey comes on strong with a flurry. Easter isn’t hurt, but Garcia got the best of those late exchanges. 10-9 Mikey, 87-83 Garcia. Easter is quickly fading on the scorecards. *Garcia records most punches landed against Easter by an opponent in Easter’s career.
– Mikey does a great job of cutting off the ring, giving Easter nowhere to go, and pushing him back against the ropes. A continuous attack of jabs and concentrated hooks, Mikey is throwing with a much higher volume now, while still picking his shots well. Easter is unable to offer much of anything in return. Another absolutely dominant round for Mikey. 10-9 Garcia, 97-92.
– Easter needs to throw more than his alternating jabs if he has any chance of winning this fight. It was clear from early on that Easter’s strategy was to use his length and range, keeping Garcia at bay with jabs and straight rights to the head and body. When that strategy came up short, Easter had no other plan B. As the smaller fighter, Mikey has done a great job of pushing forward with his own jab, disrespecting the power of Easter, and landing his own power hooks and uppercuts once inside. 10-9 Garcia as Mikey takes another easy one. 107-101.
– Easter continues to poke and prod with his jabs. Mikey is standing in the pocket but has no desire to take any risks. Easter is finally opening up with hooks as he becomes desperate. Garcia again pushes Easter back to the ropes. Mikey finishes it off with another 10-9 round. 117-110 Garcia.
The judges score the bout 116-111, 117-110, 118-109 – Unanimous Decision for Mikey Garcia (now 39-0).
Fantastic fight here from Garcia. The bout was very close early on, as Easter did a good job of utilizing his jabs and his range. In return, Mikey adapted very well to his opponent’s style, using his speed and footwork to control the range. Even as the smaller fighter, Garcia was able to utilize his own jab, press forward and get inside on his taller lengthier opponent. While Easter’s lack of power allowed Garcia to walk through most of his shots, his biggest downfall was that he made few, if any, adjustments. The Easter we saw in round one was the same Easter we saw in round ten. Against most fighters, that type of steady output can wear an opponent down, but Mikey Garcia isn’t most fighters. Great fight by both men.
The win here places Garcia firmly among boxing’s elite. While another unification bout against WBA LW Champion Vasyl Lomachenko would be a fanboy’s dream, Garcia took his moment on the microphone during the post-fight interview to call out IBF Welterweight Champion Errol Spence Jr (24-0). The bout would require a 12lb jump for Garcia from the 135lb LW limit to the 147lb WW limit. Although some may speculate that Garcia is dodging Lomachenko, moving up to fight Spence may be just as dangerous of a proposition, and also places Garcia into an absolutely stacked welterweight division which has easily become the deepest in all of boxing, featuring the likes of Spence, “Bud” Crawford, Keith Thurman, Jarrett Hurd, the Charlo Brothers, Danny Garcia, Shawn Porter, and even Manny Pacquiao. The list goes on. With so many undefeated fighters, it’s only a matter of time before heads start to roll.
Keep an eye out for these upcoming LW and WW bouts!
– 8/4/18: Andre Berto vs Devon Alexander
– 8/25/18: WBO LW Champion Ray Beltran vs Jose Pedraza
– 9/8/18: Danny Garcia vs Shawn Porter for vacant WBC WW Championship
: Amir Khan vs Samuel Vargas
The night’s undercard featured top five ranked Heavyweight Luis Ortiz taking on Razvan Cojanu. Ortiz is coming off the first loss of his career against champion Deontay Wilder. Wilder was rocked by Ortiz early in the fight, but rallied to put the Cuban away in the ninth round. I had seen that fight live, and really liked the grit shown by both Ortiz and Wilder, and so I was pulling for Ortiz in this one.
Ortiz is a strong, lumbering southpaw with deceptively quick speed. Although Cojanu held the height advantage here, Ortiz had no problem fighting from range. In just the second round, Ortiz would connect with a beautiful lead right hook, straight left combination that absolutely floored Cojanu. The Romanian never stood a chance, as Ortiz solidifies himself as a top five Heavyweight.
In an emotional post fight interview, Ortiz announces that his five year old daughter, who had epidermolysis bullosa, had beaten the disease, and that gave him motivation. Ortiz would go on to say that he would love a rematch with Wilder, or a match against Anthony Joshua, although he doubted Joshua would accept it.
The opening bout of the evening featured Junior Welterweights Mario Barrios (21-0) taking on Jose Roman. Barrios held a distinct height and reach advantage in the bout, and utilized them beautifully. Barrios excels at keeping his punches tight and hiding where they are coming from. Many times Roman was barely able to react before being popped with combinations. Roman also looked flat footed, but it’s very likely that Barrios just had him off balance, as Barrios seemed to be a class above all fight. It will be interesting to see how Barrios fares against someone of equal talent as he wades into the shark tank of the welterweight division.
Dillian Whyte vs Joseph Parker
Across the pond, Whyte and Parker would square off, with each man hoping to earn another crack at Anthony Joshua, the British Kingpin who ended both Whyte and Parker’s undefeated runs. With each man still ranked in the top 10, a win here would surely propel them back into title contention.
Whyte would utilize dirty boxing and grit early on, taking Parker out of his game and turning the scrap into a dog fight. An inadvertent headbutt would lead to the first knockdown of the fight as Parker received the brunt of a blow from Whyte’s forehead. It wasn’t long before Parker was down again, only the second time in his career hitting the mat.
Parker remained game as the fight moved into the later rounds, eventually turning it on in the final frame. A frantic final minute saw Parker land several clean blows on Whyte before finally putting him down for the first time in the fight. Whyte would stumble to his feet, recovering just enough and holding on long enough to survive and earn a unanimous decision victory.
Absolute war here from these guys as they both showed great will and determination throughout the fight. With Anthony Joshua scheduled to take on Alexander Povetkin in September, before a potential superfight against Deontay Wilder, it looks like Whyte will have to wait a little bit for another title shot.
On the undercard, another heavyweight bout took place, this time between former world championship challengers Dereck Chisora and Carlos Takam. Though Takam controlled much of the bout, and even looked to be on the verge of putting his opponent away, it was Chisora who dropped his foe in the 8th round. Takam would recover, but was clearly out on his feet as he wobbled toward his opponent. Chisora uncorked a blistering right hand that put Takam to sleep, and put the icing on the cake of an impressive comeback.
UFC on Fox 30
The UFC put together a stacked card of former champions to fill out their penultimate event on Fox before reaching the end of an eight year agreement. Featuring names like Eddie Alvarez, Jose Aldo, and Joanna Jedrzejczyk, the card was sure to attract a large audience, right? Let’s take a look at the main card of UFC on Fox 30, everything that went right and everything that went wrong for the UFC.
Right out of the gate it was somewhat surprising to see no Joe Rogan or Jimmy Smith Jr on the decks. Sure, this wasn’t a PPV, but Fox events should be treated like a big deal. I’ve come to like D.C. on commentary, but it’s crazy how much the UFC asks from this guy. LHW Champion, HW Champion, commercials, press conferences, analysis shows, commentary; my hat goes off to DC for being possibly the best company guy there is right now for UFC, outside of maybe Cowboy Cerrone.
In the opening fight of the card, highly touted blue-chip prospect Alexander Hernandez would pick up a hard fought victory over Canadian Olivier Aubin-Mercier. OAM was game to hang with Hernandez in both the striking and wrestling departments, but it was Hernandez’s relentless gas tank that led to him eventually wearing Mercier down and taking home a unanimous decision. After beating the breaks off Beneil Dariush in March, this fight brought Hernandez back down to earth a bit. A fight against Dan Hooker or Michael Chiesa could really help determine where exactly Hernandez stands in the division.
The next fight saw former Women’s Strawweight Champion Joanna “Champion” taking on the “Tiny Tornado” Tecia Torres. With an almost 6″ reach advantage, Jedrzejczyk had no problem keeping her undersized foe at range with front kicks and straight punches, easily dominating a three round fight and cementing herself as a top contender to “Thug” Rose Namajunas, though she will likely still need one more win before earning another crack at the champ. The usually cocky Joanna was surprisingly humble and friendly in her post fight interview. Torres is now 3-3 in her last 6 bouts, coming up shorts against Najamunas, Andrade, and now Joanna. Unfortunately for Torres, unless the UFC creates another lower weight division, she just may be too small to hang at strawweight.
In the pre-fight video packages leading up to Jose Aldo vs Jeremy Stephens, Aldo is repeatedly referred to as the greatest FW of all time, specifically by Jimmy Smith Jr. What about Conor McGregor? What about Max Holloway, the guy who just starched Aldo two times in a row? Come on, man.
Anyways, Aldo hasn’t looked like himself lately, losing three of his last four in rather devastating fashion. The man across from him, Jeremy Stephens, is nothing more than a journeyman at this point in his career who still holds devastating knockout power in his hands a la the likes of Dan Henderson. Stephens, who’s known for throwing winging, looping punches, instead chose to come out in this fight throwing tighter, straight punches. It seems Stephens’s strategy was to outstrike Aldo, rather than just looking for that big punch. The strategy cost Stephens almost immediately, as he and Aldo would engage in a brief firefight before a crippling left hook to the body would slump Stephens 4:19 into the first round. While it’s hard to say whether or not Aldo is “back”, as this was only his first win in two years, it is safe to say that Stephens won’t be anywhere near the top of the division for a while.
In the main event slot was the highly billed “rematch” between Poirier and Alvarez after their first fight ended with an illegal knee strike from Alvarez. There wasn’t much else to the story other than these guys wanting to get back in the cage and properly finish what they started. There was much talk early on about Alvarez having a strategy to utilize kicks, which he hardly used whatsoever. Poirier seemed to pace himself for most of the first round, likely anticipating that Alvarez would tire himself out over the duration of a five round fight.
As the second round kicked off, each fighter attacked with submissions early. Alvarez would end up on top, before an illegal 12-6 elbow to Poirier’s shoulder would lead to the fight being stood up. This was an interesting call, as Alvarez’s corner can be heard calling for the elbow strike just seconds before. However controversial it may have been, back on the feet Poirier clipped Alvarez with a series of straight punches, backing him up to the cage before finally finishing the former LW Champ with a barrage of knees and strikes.
The victory is an impressive one for Poirier, who adds another former champion to his win list. With McGregor and Khabib still expected to take place at some point this year, expect to see Poirier squaring off one more time before getting a crack at the title, likely against either Tony Ferguson or Kevin Lee.
At the end of the night, the fights delivered…for the most part; the prelims were underwhelming, as was the opening bout’s performance from Alexander Hernandez. But after that, we saw two dominant performances by two former champions, and a slugfest of a main event. Unfortunately, overnight numbers reported that UFC on Fox received the lowest ratings of any UFC events since they began airing on Fox back in 2011. So while the main card bouts delivered, the numbers of viewers was at an all-time low.
To say the UFC’s partnership with Fox was disappointing would be an understatement. From the very first underwhelming bout between Cain Velasquez and Junior Dos Santos back in 2011 that ended in just over a minute, through their 150+ events til now, the UFC has not once aired a “must-see” event on network television. Sure, Eddie vs Poirier was a good fight, but that type of fight should be the opening bout on a Fox card, not the main event. Same with Jose Aldo vs Jeremy Stephens. That bout deserves opening honors, not co-main event slot. The main event, especially for a Fox event, should be a championship bout. No questions asked. The co-main should be a #1 contender’s match. It should NOT be that hard to make these things happen, yet for the past eight years the UFC has failed miserably to connect with their audience via network television. This is why Fox switched over to WWE and Smackdown Live starting in 2019.
Some great performances from a solid group of fighters, but an absolutely pitiful display from the UFC’s production and whoever the hell is making the decisions upstairs. Next weekend the UFC will host UFC 227, headlined by a Bantamweight Championship match between TJ Dillashaw and Cody Garbrandt, and co-main evented by a Flyweight Championship rematch between Demetrious Jonhson and Henry Cejudo.
Make sure to check in at the top of every week as we Pick Up the Scraps from the weekend of fight sports.