Garcia, Easter in for Fight of Their Lives
WBC Lightweight Champion Mikey Garcia is one of boxing’s pound-for-pound best fighters, always looking for the next big fight. And considering his next fight is a unification bout with IBF champion Robert Easter Jr. — a fellow undefeated champion — this is the matchup he looks for.
Showtime Executive Stephen Espinoza explained in a recent conference call, with the size and reach disadvantage that he’s in for against IBF champion Robert Easter Jr., and taking into account Garcia’s championship success across four weight divisions, it may be each fighter’s biggest test to date.
“Easter has rare physical gifts. He has a height and reach advantage over Mikey and that makes for an interesting matchup,” Espinoza said. “Mikey Garcia has quickly risen to a top pound-for-pound fighter…the one thing that speaks of Mikey is he takes the biggest fights…he didn’t hesitate at all [to face Easter].”
This fight marks Garcia’s first defense of his WBC title since winning it from Dejan Zlatičanin in January 2017. It marked Garcia’s only bout at 135 pounds, sandwiched among fights at 130 and 140. But Garcia says he’s not bothered by all the moving up and down in weight, and he may even go up a division once again in the future.
“I’m comfortable back at 135,” Garcia said. “Right eating, right dieting allows me to fluctuate in weight. I feel strong, fast and healthy. I do feel I’m at a disadvantage when I’m fighting at 140. These guys are bigger, but I have the abilities. Lightweight is more an even level of weight class.
But I honestly feel comfortable in both divisions.
It also marks the first time Garcia will be fighting in his home state of California since 2011.
“I have the chance to give my local people a chance to see,” he said. “It’s very special for me to be here [in LA], a lot of family support and friends.”
The 5’6″ Garcia will be giving up five inches in the height to Easter, and Easter will hold the reach advantage at 76 inches to 70. Garcia says Easter is so much of a fighter, he can throw his advantages out the window just to swing away, but that doesn’t make him any less of an opposition.
“[Easter] allows fights to get tough for himself,” Garcia said. “He gives up the height and reach at times, but he’s always in the fight, always punching. He’s dangerous, he has power.”
That note by Garcia isn’t denied by Easter, who has recently taken up a new trainer in Kevin Cunningham. Cunningham noted such when Easter successfully defended his IBF crown against Javier Fortuna back in January.
“It would have been easier for Robert had he used his height and reach more,” Cunningham said. “He understands what he needs to do, the adjustments he needs to make. He has the ability to pick it up.”
And for Easter, getting to train with Cunningham has opened up his eyes and abilities more. And Garcia’s prestige motivates him, saying this is the kind of fight he has been building his career to.
“At home, I had a lot of distractions. My mind was everywhere. Making the move to Coach Cunningham, it made the focus on the gameplan,” Easter said. “The thing I think about is boxing.”
Everyone knows I’ve been waiting for this for a long time. This fight is what boxing deserves: champion vs. champion.