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Mikey Garcia told everyone leading up to this fight that he was a better fighter than his opponent in every way. He looked like a superstar this past Saturday stopping Juan Manuel Lopez in devastating fashion in the 4th round of the HBO main event. Most of the experts saw predicted Garcia would take this one, but not many thought it would be over that fast.
''It's not that I wanted to make a statement,'' Garcia said. ''We just had a really good night.''
He needed a really good night too. The previous day led to a big disappointment in the Garcia camp. The fighter came in at 128 lbs. two over the featherweight limit of 126. That meant Garcia, the reigning champion, lost his title on the scales. He was not eligible to win the belt back in that fight, but Lopez could have won the belt had he attained a victory.
''The disappointment was there because I lost my title,'' Garcia said. ''I was crying a little bit because I knew I wasn't the champion. But everybody got a chance to see I'm a good fighter. This was a satisfying victory.''
There was initially a lot of criticism from the media and fans as Garcia weighed 128 and refused to even try and take the extra two pounds off. Only later did it come out that he was so weakened and dehydrated from trying to make weight already that he was throwing up on the way back to the hotel.
Garcia’s plan was to box from the outside and be aggressive, something he has become known for. In the very opening round, he landed some very solid jabs on the challenger, who never really seemed to get anything going.
“We practiced the same thing,” Robert Garcia, trainer and older brother of Mikey, said. “Jab, step back, straight right.”
It was an excellent performance, and one Mikey should be proud of, but the questions remains; what’s next for him. In his post fight interview with Max Kellerman Garcia stated that he still wants to fight at 126. Most people would dismiss that as unreasonable, seeing as how he missed the weight for this fight, but Garcia said that was a fluke.
“I got sick for a few days last week, but we don’t like to talk about it,” Garcia said. “It mesed up the diet, but I can still make 126.”
Of course, most people think his immediate future lies in the 130 pound division. Rocky Martinez, a reigning 130 pound champion accompanied Lopez into the ring Saturday night and many see him as a possible next opponent for Garcia. The buildup would be there, Garcia is Mexican and Martinez is Puerto Rican, the rivalry between those two countries in the boxing ring is the stuff of legends. They could both add to their own legacies, as well as that of their countries, by making that fight. If he secedes to stay at 126, Abner Mares has also been discussed as a possible opponent. However, the soap opera quality feud between the promoters of the two camps (Top Rank and Golden Boy) make that fight an unlikely one.
Juan Manuel Lopez finds himself in a much different position altogether. Once looked at as the man to beat at 122 and maybe 126, he has since fallen…and fallen quickly. Mtawga made the door ajar, but Orlando Salido busted it down in their first fight. He suffered two devastating knock outs to Salido and now another to Garcia. To add to that, in his recent wins he routinely gets caught with clean shots by lesser fighters. There is a fundamental flaw in the way Lopez fights and he is already deteriorating from his high point. Even though he could likely still beat many fighters out there at 126, he should consider his future. He’s only 29 years old and he is already past his prime.