Roberto Garcia has not had an easy road as a professional boxer. In his 13-year career he has frequently fought out of his normal weight class and on short notice. He did both of those things in February when he took a fight with Norberto Gonzalez on short notice and gutted out an entertaining decision. That win put him in position to get another TV date and he did not disappoint tonight on a special Thursday edition of Friday Night Fights on ESPN2.
Garcia (35-3, 23 KO) stopped Victor Cayo in the 6th round of their 10 round welterweight(ish) fight by keeping to his strengths- namely relentless pressure and combination punching in volume. The 34-year-old Texan took a couple of rounds to get warmed up, but once he did Cayo could not stem the tide. Cayo (32-5, 23 KO) took the first two rounds on my card by countering smartly while circling away from the ever advancing Garcia, but by the forth round he was getting punched, nudged, and outright shoved all over the ring. Cayo fired back bravely, but was unable to keep Garcia off of him and by the 5th round he was wilting from the pressure. The 6th round was all Garcia. He was steaming ahead at full speed and caught Cayo with a brutal left hook that caused him to stagger back to the ropes. It was all over at that point. Garcia poured it on using thudding body shots to set up an over hand right that landed flush and as Cayo stumbled into the corner the referee jumped in to save to battered fighter.
At first glance the stoppage seemed premature, but after some consideration I changed my mind. Cayo didn’t protest, so why should we? He was getting beaten up and was unable to deter Garcia’s advance. Letting it go on would only have delayed the inevitable.
Garcia again has given his stock another boost. He was fighting at 147 (Cayo weighed in at 150- Garcia at 146.2) for the first time since 2007, and claims that is his natural class. I thought he looked solid at middleweight, and he looked gigantic at welterweight. He is a fan-friendly fighter with many gifts and several flaws. He’s tough as nails, has a good punch and undeniable stamina, but he’s also a bit slow and easy to hit. I can’t say who would be a logical next opponent, but I want to watch it. Garcia makes for fun fights, and there can never be too many of those.
In the co-feature, Puerto Rican junior-regular-super middleweight prospect Jonathan Gonzalez continued to be disappointing and fat by getting a gift split decision over the very game Rogelio Medina in a “middleweight” bout that was actually contested at 163 lbs. If you don’t remember Gonzalez, he’s the “hot prospect” who shit the HBO money bed by coming in NINE pounds overweight for a junior middleweight fight with Serhi Dzinziruk and then soiled it further by lazily sparring his way to a split draw.
Medina (32-6, 26 KO) was the busier fighter throughout, throwing and landing many more punches than the plodding Gonzalez. Gonzalez (18-0-1 14 KO) came forward and landed the cleaner punches, but he didn’t land enough of them. There appeared to be long stretches of the fight when his concentration waned, and his activity showed that. Both fighters landed big punches and neither seemed overly concerned with defense. It was fun, but not thrilling in any way. The judges returned scores of 96-94 for Medina and 97-93 & 96-94 for Gonzalez. TQBR scored it 97-94 for Medina based on his consistently superior work rate and landed punches. The decision was truly awful.
The most infuriating part was that the fight shouldn’t have been close. Gonzalez is a talented kid with good technique and an excellent amateur pedigree, but his sloth in training (as evidenced by his Zaftig physique) shows in fights. You would assume that being trained by Krusher Konsigiliere John David Jackson would prevent that, but it hasn’t. Meanwhile, Gonzalez gets to slink away with his record intact, and Medina gets robbed on a televised card. Fighters like Medina don’t get too many well paid TV dates and it always sucks to see them get screwed by incompetent judges. Boxing is the most human of sports in a variety of ways, notably how frequently it is unapologetically unfair, corrupt, and generally depressing.
Rabies watch: Immediately following the announcement of the decision in favor of Gonzalez I steeled myself in preparation for an epic Teddy Atlas diatribe. It didn’t materialize. ESPN went straight back to the studio and we were left wondering what kind of mangled metaphors were being shouted at ringside. Clearly the folks in Bristol don’t realize that I have a column to write and they aren’t helping matters by depriving viewers of our beloved Atlas meltdowns.
Teddy did have an interesting taped interview with Chris Arreola in which he channeled his inner Oprah. As I have a general loathing of seeing adults cry, it didn’t do much for me. The failures of Arreola’s career lie firmly with him. He has repeatedly shown that he lacks the discipline to stay (or even get) in optimum condition. His blubbering about his own disappointment in himself isn’t winning me over. I’ll believe it when I see it, and even then will retain a healthy dose of skepticism.
Also, kudos to ESPN’s Todd Grisham for being able to call Adrien Broner’s antics “clever” and not hyperventilate laughing at the complete lunacy of that statement. Grisham has been an excellent addition to the FNF crew. His enthusiasm and lack of ego are a welcome change of pace.