Dallas – Mikey Garcia needed just four rounds to demolish brave warrior Juan Manuel Lopez in front of 5,605 rowdy Lone Star State fight fans at the American Airlines Center in Dallas on Saturday night. The bout was broadcast live by HBO World Championship Boxing.
The fight was originally scheduled for Garcia’s WBO featherweight title. However, Garcia was unable to make the 126 pound limit so only Lopez would have been able to come away champion. It was not meant to be. Garcia’s weight advantage seemed to carry the day.
The rangier Garcia (seen finishing off Lopez in Chris Farina-Top Rank photo) established his jab in the first. Lopez seemed incapable of making his way inside without getting his head snapped back by it. Lopez, a southpaw, countered by shortening his own jab up and following it with hard, straight lefts. The round was close.
Garcia fed Lopez a steady diet of lefts and rights from a distance to open the second. The hard-hitting Puerto Rican was forced to cut the range and he paid the price for it. Garcia landed a scintillating straight right hand right down the pipe to put Lopez down to the floor. JuanMa made it up to his feet and through the round without taking any more significant damage.
It would not last.
Round two went to Garcia. He landed clean, hard shots all throughout the three minutes. Left hooks, straight one-twos; Lopez could offer little in return. Garcia seemed bigger, rangier and just too physical.
Lopez dipped but didn’t spill off a Garcia hook at the start of the third, so he tried good old-fashioned machismo to even the score. It didn’t work. Though landing shots of his own, he appeared to play right into Garcia’s trap. A hard right hand started things for Garcia in the center of the ring, and he finished it with a brutal left hook. Lopez landed flat on his back hard, but bravely rose to continue before the count of ten. Referee Rafael Ramos had seen enough though. The fight was wisely halted at 1:35 of round number four.
“We practiced the same thing over and over in camp: jab, step-back, right-hand,” said trainer Robert Garcia after.
Stablemate Brandon Rios, who watched the bout from ringside, echoed similar sentiments.
“I knew Mikey would box. He waited until JuanMa came forward to do his damage,” said Rios. “He used his left hand to get work in, but we knew the damaging punches would come from the right hand. The strategy was to lure him in with the left and do the damaging blows with the right.”
So said the fighter, who said afterwards implied he may be heading to the junior lightweight division.
“I just used a right hand to get it done,” said Garcia. And that he did, though it’s a shame he did not get it done on the scale beforehand.
Before the main event, fast-rising lightweight prospect Terence Crawford (21-0, 16 KOs) dominated tough guy Alejandro Sanabria. Crawford was just too slick and strong for Sanabria. It appears he just might be the real deal.
Crawford made Sanabria miss in the first while landing stiff jabs and long straight rights over the top. In the second, Sanabria missed wide with an uppercut but bashed hard to the body of Crawford before get picked off down the stretch. In the third, Sanabria was stunned and sent reeling before gathering himself enough to make it out of the round. The ever advancing Crawford seemed to be on his way to a quick win.
Crawford impressed again in the fourth. He alternated landing crisp hook and uppercuts with making his opponent miss wildly. Crawford was being aggressive offensively but responsible on defense. It was solid stuff.
Crawford unleashed his offense again in the fifth. Sanabria found himself up against the ropes with Crawford on top of him with his punches way too often. The end was near.
At the beginning of the sixth, Crawford unfurled a crushing left hook which floored the unsuspecting Sanabria. He hit the deck hard and did not recover.
“He kept blocking my jab,” said Crawford. “So I faked a jab and threw a short, hard hook. I felt the power go up my arms.”
Sanabria felt it, too. He was counted out by Referee Laurence Cole just fifteen seconds into the round.
“I feel like I can do anything in the ring,” said Crawford. He may be right.