Garcia decisions Vargas in barnburner
By Robert Ecksel on February 29, 2020
“I could feel the size difference, but my talent overcame that.” (Amanda Wescott/DAZN)
Saturday night at Ford Center at The Star in Frisco, Texas, Mikey Garcia (40-1, 30 KOs), the four-division champion from Ventura, California, outpointed Jessie Vargas (29-3-2, 11 KOs), the two-division champion from Las Vegas, Nevada, in a competitive welterweight showdown streamed live on DAZN in the US and on Sky Sports in the UK.
The final scores after 12 action-packed rounds were 114-113 (David Sutherland) and 116-111 twice (Cathy Leonard and Steve Morrow).
Fighting out of the blue corner in grey trunks with red trim, Garcia is continuing his quest for a welterweight world title. His first attempt, against Errol Spence Jr. a year ago, ended in defeat. That bout was one-sided and many thought that Mikey was too small to compete with bigger men with a bigger punch. But he silenced the doubters, if only for a night, with a superb performance bolstered by his world-class skills and ring generalship.
Vargas, fighting out of the red corner in white trunks trimmed in gold, is a veteran boxer-puncher who, while not among the elite of the elite, always delivers, win, lose or draw. He took the first half of the fight with Garcia, using his superior size and strength in an attempt to cut Mikey down to size. Although the action was back-and-forth, his strategy was working. But then round five rolled around.
With his pinpoint accuracy, granite beard, and quadruple digit ring IQ, Garcia caught Vargas with a right hand that dropped him to the canvas. Jessie was never the same after the knockdown.
Vargas was wobbled several times in the remaining rounds. He continued to fight back, even though he had slowed down and his legs were gone, and managed to come on in the championship rounds, landing a great right hand as the final bell sounded. But it was too little too late.
“I feel very happy to be back and excited to be here,” said Garcia after the bout. “I had to make adjustments to his reach and natural size. As the fight went on I started to hurt him, closing the gap, finding my rhythm, and timing. In the end it worked out very well.
“I carried the weight a little better. I felt better. I had my feet when I had to. He’s a big man. I could feel the size difference, but my talent overcame that. I started to hurt him as the rounds went by. I landed a right hand where he went down. I hurt him again and got my rhythm, speed and power. It was perfect and did it against a bigger guy.”
The “bigger guy,” Jessie Vargas, said, “I got a little confident. In the fourth I thought I hurt Mikey. I lightened up but Mikey fought a great fight. I give him credit and don’t take anything from it. It was a learning experience for me, entertaining fight for the fans in Frisco. I’d like a rematch, but it think it was close. The knockdown made a difference. I was overconfident with his power, he has a good pop. I didn’t follow guidelines exactly but that’s on me.”
According to CompuBox, Garcia landed nine more punches than Vargas (151 of 478 to 142 of 671). Vargas landed five more power shots (101 of 388 to 96 of 217), but Garcia landed 14 more jabs (55 of 261 to 41 of 283). It may have been closer than two of the three judges saw it.
Mikey Garcia has plenty of options going forward. He’s in the right division with the right team behind him to make some waves, or failing that, make some good money by fighting either of the two best welterweights on the planet.
“I think I’m ready to get back in with the best,” Garcia said. “I want Manny Pacquiao or a rematch with Errol Spence. I’m better at this weight class. This is a great option to continue at 147.”