For two undefeated fighters, the July 28 bout in Los Angeles represents a matchup without parallel in their careers.
In terms of resume, Robert Easter, Jr., never has faced a pro as good as Mikey Garcia, the 30-year-old Californian who has won championships in four different weight classes. As expected, Garcia is a sizable favorite to win the unification fight.
Conversely, Garcia has not matched up with a lightweight like Easter, the 27-year-old Toledoan who stands several inches taller and maintains a large reach advantage against every highly ranked lightweight, including Garcia.
Whoever figures out the other first will add a belt to their collection.
“This is a big fight for me, and I’m sure it’s the biggest fight of Easter’s career so far,” Garcia said this week in a workout made available to the media.
“I’m glad to hear he’s training extra hard. It shows me that he’s motivated and hungry to show off his very best, just like I am.”
The winner will leave the fight will two titles at lightweight, which cuts off at 135 pounds.
Garcia is the World Boxing Council title holder, while Easter has the International Boxing Federation crown he won in 2016.
In his past two fights, Garcia defeated Adrien Broner and Sergey Lipinets by unanimous decision at super lightweight (140 pounds), but dropped back down to lightweight to defend the WBC title.
Garcia enters the fight at 38-0 (30 knockouts). Asked what makes Garcia successful, Easter said his opponent has been good at controlling fights in the past.
“I would say his patience,” Easter said. “His patience is really to stick to his game plan, and use his skills that he does have and keep distance.”
Easter (21-0, 14 knockouts) also is undefeated but remains a clear underdog. Bovada lists Easter at 5-1 odds to win, while Garcia is 1-8.
Easter currently is in the middle of a 10-week training camp in West Palm Beach, Fla., with Kevin Cunningham, a longtime trainer at boxing’s highest levels.
“We know that Robert Easter is training like never before to be ready for this fight against Mikey,” said Robert Garcia, Mikey’s brother and trainer.
“He has a huge reach advantage, so we know he’s going to come in and use that.
“He has a new trainer [Kevin Cunningham] who is going to try to make us box with him.”
For his part, Garcia has attempted to compensate for his height disadvantage by training against fighters who are taller than he is.
Before the fight, Garcia has been carefully picking sparring partners who resemble Easter.
“I know Easter is very tall and has a longer reach than me,” Mikey Garcia said. “In the gym, we’ve been working on sparring partners who present different challenges and made adjustments from there. I have to catch him reaching in or put pressure and work my way inside.”
Easter’s past two fights — both wins — came with national criticism. In particular, his previous bout with Javier Fortuna was a rocky outing with a disputed result, but the Garcia camp said it is not overlooking Easter.
Come fight night, the Garcias expect Easter at the peak of his abilities.
“We don’t listen [to] any criticism of Easter for having close decisions in his last couple of fights,” Robert Garcia said. “We know that Easter is going to come in having trained like never before. It’s going to be the best Robert Easter, Jr., possible on fight night.”
Source: Nicholas Piotrowicz