Mikey Garcia: One must appreciate Andre Ward’s ability, toughness and resume. Gennady Golovkin is much more than just a power puncher. And Adrien Broner seems to have unlimited potential. None of these young stars has much – if anything – over Mikey Garcia, who stopped Rocky Martinez with a body shot in the eighth round to take Martinez’s WBO 130-pound title Saturday in Corpus Christi, Texas. Garcia (33-0, 28 knockouts) hasn’t faced enough elite opponents to draw a definitive conclusion but he has been as dominating as any of the above. On Saturday, he patiently and methodically ripped apart an experienced, tough fighter – starting slowly, finding his range, hurting the Puerto Rican repeatedly in the sixth and seventh rounds and then taking him out in the eighth with what appeared to be a paralyzing punch to the liver. Masterpiece. Garcia has everything – skills, power and poise – except a substantial resume. That will come in the next few years.
Nonito Donaire: There is nothing fortunate about a knockout. Donaire earned his victory over Vic Darchinyan on the Garcia-Martinez card, stopping his rival in brutal fashion in the ninth round. That doesn’t erase what happened in the previous eight rounds, though. Darchinyan, the aging fighter Donaire stopped in five rounds in 2007, was winning handily on the cards with two rounds to go and apparently on his way to victory. No one saw that coming. The Filipino-American had been dominating before he was outpointed by Guillermo Rigondeaux in his previous fight, a setback attributed to the Cuban’s unusual ability and Donaire’s apparent lack of focus. How do you explain the first eight rounds Saturday? He underestimated Darchinyan? He still can’t focus because his heart is no longer in the sport? Inconsistent training? Difficulty adjusting well to additional weight? Who knows? The only certainty is that this isn’t the fighter who terrorized opponents at lighter weights.
Vic Darchinyan: Darchinyan’s knockout loss to Donaire in 2007 had always eaten at him. He also seemed to be in decline after losing his last two important fights, against Anselmo Moreno and Shinsuke Yamanaka. His rematch with Donaire on Saturday was a golden opportunity to set everything right. And he was so close to doing it. Two of the three judges had him leading 78-74 (or six rounds to two) after eight rounds of a scheduled 10-round fight, meaning he could’ve lost the final two rounds and still won. All he had to do was stay on his feet. And then, in a matter of moments, it all fell apart. Darchinyan (39-6-1, 28 KOs) was hurt, went down and couldn’t recover. The good news for him is that he looked sharp for eight rounds. The bad news is that he has lost three of past five fights and will be 38 in January. The first eight rounds on Saturday might’ve been the entertaining Armenian’s last hurrah.
Javier Alvarez’s: Demetrius Andrade (20-0, 13 KOs) outclassed fellow U.S. Olympian Vanes Martirosyan (33-1-1, 21 KOs) to win the vacant WBO junior middleweight title on the Garcia-Martinez card, his first major belt. Andrade, too good and too active for Martirosyan, won at least eight rounds. He outlanded his foe 219-97, according to CompuBox. Judge Alvarez’s score? 115-112 for Martirosyan, or seven rounds to five. Andrade won the fight – thank goodness – but had to settle for a split decision because of Alvarez’s ridiculous card. HBO rules expert Steve Weisfeld said Alvarez, who is from Texas, doesn’t have much experience. He also doesn’t appear to have much ability. The same might be said about judge Don Griffin, who had it 114-113 (seven rounds to five) for Andrade, but at least he had the right man winning. And kudos to the third judge, Jesse Reyes, who evidently was watching the fight. He scored it 117-110 for Andrade. I’d like to blame the miserable commission in Texas in part for the latest judging debacle but, sadly, it is happening everywhere.
Donaire’s reconciliation with his father, Nonito Sr., is a nice story. However, presuming the elder Donaire truly cares about his son, he needs to do one thing: Keep his mouth shut in the corner when Junior fights. Engaging in battle is tough enough. He doesn’t need to hear competing voices in the corner. Robert Garcia is the fighter’s lead trainer. Only his voice should be heard. ÔÇª Those who crave knockouts had to like the card Sunday in Tokyo. All four of the featured fights ended inside the distance, three within two rounds. Shinsuke Yamanaka (20-0-2, 15 KOs) stopped Alberto Guevara (18-2, 6 KOs) in nine rounds to retain his WBC bantamweight title; Takahiro Ao (25-3-1, 12 KOs) KO’d Edgar Lomeli (14-4-2, 8 KOs) in one round; two-division titleholder Roman Gonzalez stopped Oscar Blanquet (32-7-1, 23 KOs) in two; and Jorge Linares (35-3, 23 KOs) ended Francisco Contreras’ (21-4, 16 KOs) night in one. ÔÇª In Gauteng, South Africa on Saturday, strawweight contender Hekkie Budler (24-1, 7 KOs) stopped inexperienced Hugo Verchelli (11-2, 6 KOs) in four rounds. On the same card, super middleweight contender Thomas Oosthuizen (22-0-2, 13 KOs) defeated Eziquiel Moderna (20-2, 13 KOs) by a majority decision. ÔÇª In Mexico City on Saturday, lightweight contender Miguel Roman (44-11, 33 KOs) continued an impressive run by stopping two-time junior lightweight titleholder Juan Carlos Salgado (26-3-1, 16 KOs) in the 11th round.