NEW YORK — Three thoughts on Mikey Garcia’s unanimous decision win over Juan Carlos Burgos and Bryant Jennings’ knockout win over Artur Szpilka at Madison Square Garden:
The Garcia train keeps on rolling
Garcia (34-0) is boxing’s iceman. Quiet, supremely talented, able to wear you down with steady pressure while tactfully avoiding your best punches and demoralizing you with thudding power. Against Burgos, he turned in a vintage performance. After an even first two rounds — which included him getting staggered by a Burgos shot in the second — Garcia took over. He stalked Burgos relentlessly, tagging him with straight right hands and left hooks, blocking and evading Burgos’s power shots. Per CompuBox, Garcia connected on 163 of 567 punches while Burgos was successful on just 89 of 564.
“In the early rounds, I was working on getting the right rhythm,” Garcia said. “Once I got that, I got a good pace. Burgos is a tough fighter, I expected him to go rounds, and he did.”
Garcia has moved up in weight quickly — Burgos was just his second opponent at 130 pounds and Top Rank has eyes to move him to 147 at some point next year — but Garcia, 26, said that he feels completely comfortable as he puts on weight.
“I’ve grown a lot the last 9-10 months,” Garcia said. “I feel really good at 130 pounds, but 135 could be a good division for me. It depends on what type of fights are there.”
Is Gamboa next?
Former super featherweight titleholder Yuriorkis Gamboa and his promoter, 50 Cent, were in the crowd for Garcia-Burgos and made something of a spectacle in the middle rounds by getting up and leaving. After the fight, the two crashed the ring. Talk of a Garcia-Gamboa showdown has been simmering for months — the pair have engaged in some verbal sparring on social media — and both appear willing to make it happen.
“If he wants to make a deal, he can call my promoter and we can do it,” Garcia said. “I’m not avoiding any fights. We can put on gloves right now and finish it.”
Jennings takes another step
Over the last two years Byrant Jennings (18-0) has risensteadily in the heavyweight division. Fighting largely on NBC Sports Network, Jennings has built a decent resume. He added another line on that resume on Saturday, pummeling an overmatched Artur Szpilka over ten one-sided rounds. In a matchup of prospects, Jennings was clearly the superior fighter, hounding Szpilka across the ring and battering him with heavy combinations. Szpilka was game but overmatched. He went down from a hard shot to the gut in the sixth round and was nearly knocked through the ropes in the tenth. Athletic commission officials rushed onto the ring apron to stop the fight later in the tenth round as Jennings was unleashing another brutal assault.
For Jennings, the win opens up even more possibilities. Jennings has pursued a fight against Wladimir Klitschko in the past and Klitschko, who will defend his titles against mandatory challenger Alex Leapai in April, could be on the hunt for a U.S. opponent. But that opponent will more likely be the winner of Bermane Stiverne-Chris Arreola, who are fighting for the piece of the heavyweight title vacated by Vitali Klitschko.
Mike Perez, an opponent HBO had been high on for Jennings, diminished his brand last week when he fought Carlos Takam to an uninspired draw. Promoter Gary Shaw suggested Jennings could still fight Perez, as both are ranked in the top five in the WBC rankings. Another alternative for Jennings could be Tomasz Adamek, the former two-division titleholder and heavyweight title challenger. Adamek will face Vyacheslav Glazkov in March. If Adamek comes out of that fight unscathed, a Jennings-Adamek showdown would do well in New York or New Jersey.
- By Chris Mannix