Mikey Garcia had dad Eduardo and big bro Robert smiling brightly on Saturday night, after he gave vet Orlando Salido a boxing lesson. (Chris Farina-Top Rank)
On Saturday night, Mikey Garcia (31-0 with 26 knockouts) confirmed his place among boxing’s elite, winning a one-sided technical decision over savvy veteran Orlando Salido (39-12-2 with 27 knockouts). Before suffering a broken nose due to an accidental head butt that put a stop to the action after the eighth, Garcia had looked brilliant in thoroughly out boxing Salido, even dropping him on four separate occasions during the opening four rounds.
Here, I’d like to focus on Mikey Garcia’s movement which, I believe, was the key to his success during the fight.
When a fighter is able to gain a superior position over his opponent, it can restrict the use of one or both of their hands as well as making it a lot more difficult for them to defend against punches coming from different angles. Because of superior footwork, that’s exactly what Garcia managed to do right from the opening bell. As Salido attacked in a straight line looking to close the distance, instead of moving back in a straight line, Garcia pivoted on his lead foot and took himself off the line of Salido’s attack. Every time Salido stepped in, Garcia stepped off the angle, resulting in Salido having to reset himself before he could let his hands go. As soon as Salido would reset, Garcia would catch him with either a left hook or a jab before pivoting off the attack line again.
As Salido comes in looking to land a left hook to the body, Garcia lands his own short left hook as he pivots off the attack line. Just as Salido resets, Garcia steps in with a stiff jab to the face. In this sequence, Garcia has eliminated Salido’s left hand while also giving himself a clearer path towards Salido’s centerline. If you look at the second photo, you’ll notice that Garcia is already lined up while Salido is still turning.
Here’s another example of Mikey Garcia successfully diverting Salido’s attack.
As Garcia throws a left hook, Salido drops low looking to land his left hand. As he steps in, Garcia pivots on his lead foot, taking himself off the angle, and lands his own left hook. Again, Salido’s attack has been neutralized through superior positioning.
Salido’s aggression continued to be blunted by Garcia’s lateral movement in conjunction with his left hand. The first knockdown illustrates this perfectly.
Here, as Salido is coming forward, Garcia side steps and catches him with a straight left. Just as Salido adjusts his hands and feet and continues forward, Garcia occupies him with a blinding jab and then drops him with a left hook aimed around the guard.
This really was Boxing 101 from Garcia. The fighter who can manipulate his opponent’s footwork using their own footwork generally controls the fight. By constantly being made to turn and follow, Salido was always one step behind Garcia. In reality, Mikey Garcia isn’t all that fast, but because of his excellent understanding of angles, timing and distance, he appeared so much quicker than he really is.
Garcia’s left hand continued to be a major problem for Salido. After dropping him a second time with the left, using the same strategy as before –turning Salido, using his momentum against him by walking him into shots- Garcia made some slight adjustments. Because Salido seemed to be compensating for the threat of his opponent’s left hand by carrying his right glove a little higher and moving his head more now, Garcia responded by doing what intelligent boxers should do –adjust to their opponent’s adjustment. As Salido seemed to be gaining a little momentum, Garcia made two alterations.
· He began throwing half jabs and shoulder feints to slow Salido down as he was coming in. The feint against an aggressive opponent tends not to draw the lead from them, but freezes them momentarily (think of Marquez feinting Pacquiao by dropping levels and blunting his momentum in fight 3).
· He began using his left jab/hook to set up his back hand. Doing this gave Salido more to think about. Because Salido was concentrating on blocking his opponent’s left, he began leaving openings for other shots.
Here’s an example of this below.
As Salido continues to press the attack, Garcia lands a jab before dropping Salido with a rear uppercut aimed up through the center. Whereas earlier in the fight Garcia was using his left hand mainly as a finishing blow, here he’s now using his left hand to set up his rear hand power shots.
Let’s take a closer look at the knockdown.
Upon closer inspection we can see that Garcia’s jab was actually parried to the outside by Salido’s right glove. As Salido parried, he also dipped low and slipped to his right, doubling up his protection for Garcia’s left jab. In doing so, he left an opening and set himself up for a low attack up through the middle. Again, this is what skilled boxing is all about –disguising your intentions by using the jab to create openings for other shots.
All in all, it was an excellent display by Garcia. Salido, who came in on a straight line just about every time he attacked, had no answer for Garcia’s vastly superior movement, which was always fluid and in sync with his punches. By using his footwork in conjunction with timing to control distance (moving away at an angle and nailing Salido with the left as he was adjusting his hands and feet looking to realign himself) Garcia was able to frustrate Salido and make him either fall short or over commit.
It would have been interesting to see what may or may not have materialized had the fight continued. Salido is a very slow starter, and he did seem to be picking up a head of steam just before the clash of heads, particularly with his overhand right.
However, it cannot be argued, Mikey Garcia is a force at 126 pounds. I’m a big Orlando Salido advocate and Mikey Garcia made him look less than ordinary (no easy task against an elite fighter).
Mikey Garcia is certainly a very precise puncher, but it’s his superior footwork that allows him to get into a position where he can maximize his punching accuracy that makes him the fighter he is.