Mikey Garcia returned to the ring and outpointed former two division champion Jessie Vargas. In his first ring appearance since getting shutout by arguably the welterweight in the world in Errol Spence, Garcia was looking to prove that he could contend at the world level in his fifth weight class. Early on it was Vargas who dictated pace, seemingly won the first four rounds. Then Garcia was able to find his range and timing, knocking Vargas down in the fifth. Vargas’ volume was enough to keep him in the fight. Garcia, stoic personified, at times was able to operate like a surgeon with precise and accurate right hands, and stuck to his tactical game plan to attain a close and just decision.
There’s an axiom in boxing that great fighters always have one last great performance in them. Roman Chocolatito Gonzalez, nearly two and half years removed from his last world title fight where he was knocked out, turned back the clock and knocked out Khalid Yafai for the WBA super flyweight title. After two tune ups and knee surgery in 2019, along with the wear and tear that had been incurred throughout nearly a decade of world championship fights and concurring four weights, people were rightfully skeptical of whether Gonzalez was the same. Yafai, rightfully undefeated despite inconsistent performances, has always been professional and at his very best, a skilled technician. The difference in size was palpable with Yafai seemingly dwarfed Gonzalez. Gonzalez made it a non-factor, nor did he let Yafai from utilizing his strengths as he took the fight straight to him from the opening bell. Amid the early frames, Gonzalez was gaining confidence, which also meant gaining steam. His blend of volume punching and improvisational combinations that never stray from textbook fundamentals facilitated by excellent footwork befuddled Yafai. A knockdown in the eight was the beginning of the end for Yafai, and Gonzalez put an exclamation point on the purported “swansong”. Back with a belt, there comes options: a rematch of a fight of the year candidate with champion Juan Francisco Estrada, a rematch of a fight of the year candidate with Srisaket Sor Rungvisai, a mandatory clash against young Jason Maloney? No shortage of options for the champion. But for now: all hail the king.
Julio Cesar Martinez always excite. He had a valiant opponent that matched his enthusiasm for battle. Going twelve rounds for the first time in his career, he retained his WBC flyweight belt against Jay Harris via unanimous decision. In a war of attrition that consisted of several close rounds, it was Martinez’s power and more impactful shots that separated him. A Martinez left hook to the liver dropped Harris in the tenth which only widened the cards. The are a lot of entertaining dance partners at 112. A scribe can only dream fights with the likes of Moruti Mthlane and Kosei Tanaka can materialize.
After injuries had side lined him for the bulk of 2019, Joseph Parker returns to the ring knocking out Shawndell Winters in the fifth round. A beautiful counter right hand separated Winters from his senses and a following flurry ended it. Battle tested and proven, and still only 28, there are opportunities left for him to make an impact in a revitalized heavyweight division.
Israil Madrimov kept his burnished record. Once he settles into a more professional style, he could be a problem for anyone at 154. The scary part is that he already is, the untapped potential is what makes him so intriguing and captivating to watch.
Diego Pacheco and Alexis Espino have tools. They went rounds for the virtually the first time in their respective careers. Here’s hoping those rounds round them and more to come.