The Hauser Report: Mikey Garcia Was Too Small, Too Slow, Too Good

THE HAUSER REPORT — Adrien Broner vs. Mikey Garcia at Barclays Center on July 29 was an intriguing match-up and a significant opportunity for both fighters.

Broner (33-2, 24 KOs) turned 28 one day before the bout. Early in his career, he blew through a series of overmatched opponents and looked great in the process. But he has struggled against more credible competition and, in two step-up fights prior to facing Garcia, lost to Marcos Maidana and Shawn Porter.

Broner also postures so obnoxiously, says so many silly self-aggrandizing things, and has been in trouble with the law so often that it’s easy to forget the skills he has and how hard it is to do what he does well in the ring.

Shortly after Broner-Garcia was announced, Adrien criticized boxing fans and the media, saying, “I just feel like they don’t put enough respect on my name. I’m the one the kids wanna be now. Coming up, everybody wanted to be like Floyd that’s my age. Now, coming up, all the kids wanna be like Adrien Broner.”

Not . . .

Still, Broner-Garcia offered Adrien a chance to reestablish his credibility as a world-class fighter.

Garcia (36-0, 30 KOs) is one year older than Broner and has met every challenge he has faced in the ring. But because of contractual problems with his former promoter (Top Rank), he’d fought only eight rounds in the preceding 42 months.

Broner-Garcia wasn’t for a world title, but no one cared. It shaped up as the most important fight to date in Garcia’s career and an opportunity for him to take a big step forward in terms of public recognition and marketability.

Blue collar vs. gaudy bling.

Garcia opened as a 6-to-1 betting favorite, which seemed like ridiculously long odds.

Broner isn’t an easy out. The fighters he’d lost to – Maidana and Porter – were naturally bigger men who’d beaten him with roughhouse tactics and unremitting pressure, which isn’t Garcia’s style.

Also, Broner-Garcia would be contested at a contract weight of 140 pounds. That represented a new high for Mikey, while Adrien had fought between 140 and 147 pounds on six occasions.

“I’m still a lightweight,” Mikey said when the fight was announced. “I feel that my best division right now is at 135.”

Meanwhile, Broner has a long history of blowing off contractual weight requirements but told the media he’d “make weight easy.”

“I’ve gotten older and I’m getting more wise,” Adrien said. “This next half of my career, I’m focusing more on doing everything the correct way. The first half, I tried to do everything my way. It worked but I could have been better, so I want to try to do everything correctly. I haven’t made weight lately. For what? Now I got a reason to make 140. I ain’t giving nobody half of one million dollars.”

That was a reference to the reported $500,000 penalty that awaited Broner if he failed to make weight.

Then, not only did Adrien make weight; he came in at 138-3/4 pounds. Safely under the contract limit and twelve ounces lighter than Garcia.

The pre-fight buzz had been, ‘For Broner to win, he has to show up in shape and bring his heart.” Now it appeared as though, at the very least, Adrien would show up in shape. By fight day, the odds had dropped below 2-to-1. People were starting to focus on the fact that Broner was naturally bigger than Garcia, faster than Garcia, and better than anyone Mikey had fought.

There were 12,084 fans at Barclays Center on fight night. Rau’shee Warren (14-2, 4 KOs) won a 12-round decision over McJoe Arroyo (17-1, 8 KOs) in an IBF title-elimination bout. 2016 Irish Olympian and gold-medal winner Katie Taylor (5-0, 3 KOs) outclassed Jasmine Clarkson (4-8) in a mismatch that represented a step down from Taylor’s most recent opponents and ended in three rounds.

Then the heavyweights took center stage.

Jarrell “Big Baby” Miller (18-0-1, 16 KOs), age 29, is one of boxing’s more intriguing prospects. He has a huge personality and is touted as having a punch to match. But his work ethic is suspect and he’d been out of action since last August because of a contractual dispute with his promoter, Dmitry Salita.

Gerald Washington (18-1-1, 12 KOs), despite sporting a record comparable to Miller’s, was the designated “opponent.” But he wasn’t a pushover. In his most recent fight, Washington had been even with Deontay Wilder on two of the three judges’ scorecards when he was stopped in the fifth round. And he’d fought better fighters than Miller had fought.

Heavyweights are fun to watch, Miller is fun to watch and listen to. Among the thoughts “Big Baby” uttered in the days leading up to the fight were:

“I never had to go to a Plan B or a Plan C because nobody can get past Plan A.”

“Gerald Washington is not a bum, but I don’t see nothing too special about him. Deontay fought him and it took him five rounds to get him out. So I would definitely like to get him out earlier than Deontay to prove a point.”

“I’ve never seen anybody go five rounds, get knocked out, and get praised for that. Where I come from, we call that an ass-whipping.”

At the final pre-fight press conference, Washington said simply, “I came here to shut that big mouth up.”

One day before the fight, Miller weighed in at a personal high of 298.8 pounds. Washington registered a more svelte 248.

The fight began with Washington jabbing and throwing occasional right hands while Miller walked him down with his own hands held high in a protective posture. In round two, Jarrell started going to the body with both fists, and Washington started to slow down. By round three, both men looked tired, which was a testament to Miller’s body attack and also his own lack of conditioning. By round five, both fighters looked like they were moving in slow motion. Washington started round six with new-found vigor and landed some good right hands. But Jarrell finished the stanza strong in the manner of a slow-moving avalanche.

After eight rounds, Washington’s corner had seen enough and stopped the fight. Two judges had Miller ahead 79-72 and 77-75 at the time of the stoppage. John Stewart’s scorecard was inexplicably even at 76-76.

The next bout matched former IBF 154-pound champion Jermall Charlo (25-0, 19 KOs) against Jorge Sebastian Heiland (29-4-2, 16 KOs).

Charlo had scored impressive victories over Julian Williams and Austin Trout in his two most recent fights and is a very good fighter.

Heiland had a 2014 knockout win over a faded Matthew Macklin on his resume but not much more. The four men Sebastian had fought since then have a total of 66 losses on their combined ring records. Yet that had been enough for Heiland to be ranked #1 by the WBC, which qualified him to fight Charlo (#2) in a middleweight “title elimination” bout that was all but certain to eliminate Heiland. Charlo was a 20-to-1 betting favorite.

Charlo-Heiland was as one-sided as people thought it would be. Midway through round two, Jarmall dropped Sebastian with a right uppercut followed by a vicious pounding that referee Benjy Esteves seemed vaguely aware of but was loathe to interrupt. At that point, it was clear that Heiland was going to get beaten up until the fight was over, which was in round four.

After the bout, Heiland said he turned his left knee in the first round and that the injury hampered him during the fight. The available evidence strongly suggests that his knee was injured before the fight. More on that on The Sweet Science later this week.

That set the stage for Broner-Garcia.

The fight began with Garcia trying to close the gap between them and Broner trying to widen it. Or phrased differently, Mikey was seeking to engage in violent confrontation while Adrien was seeking to avoid it.

Broner likes to lay back and counter until he has worn his opponent down. But countering like that is almost impossible to do against Garcia.

Timing can beat speed. Garcia dominated the first eight rounds fighting a disciplined fight, mixing punches to the head and body, and surgically carving Broner apart. Adrien shook his head so often to indicate Mikey’s punches weren’t hurting him that, after a while, one could be forgiven for fearing he’d get whiplash.

Broner’s best chance to win was to engage. It was clear that he couldn’t outbox Garcia. But it also seemed that he was more likely to hurt Mikey with one punch than the other way around. In round nine, Adrien began coming forward and enjoyed his best three minutes of the fight, highlighted by several clean hooks to the head and body and two more that looked low. But he never went for broke, and Garcia reestablished control.

Garcia was technically brilliant and gave Broner as boxing lesson, outlanding him by a 244-to-125 margin over the course of twelve rounds. The judges scored the bout 117-111, 116-112, 116-112 in Mikey’s favor. Very few other people in the arena thought it was that close.

After the fight, Garcia declared, “This is definitely one of my best performances ever. I was the superior fighter tonight.”

He was right on both counts.

Broner talked the talk. Garcia walked the walk. There’s a difference. Mikey Garcia doesn’t posture. Mikey Garcia doesn’t talk big. All Mikey Garcia does is fight. But he does that very well.

Photo credit: Tom Casino / SHOWTIME

Thomas Hauser can be reached by email at thauser@rcn.com. His most recent book – A Hard World: An Inside Look at Another Year in Boxing – was published by the University of Arkansas Press. In 2004, the Boxing Writers Association of America honored Hauser with the Nat Fleischer Award for career excellence in boxing journalism.

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