People were extremely skeptical of Mikey Garcia staying at welterweight ahead of his bout against Jessie Vargas on Saturday night.
For the first three rounds, those doubts appeared to be the correct assessment. But Garcia showed why he's one of the top pound-for-pound fighters in the sport, dropping Vargas in the fifth and then dominate from that point forward to win by unanimous decision (116-111, 116-111, 114-113) at The Ford Center at The Star in Frisco, Texas. DAZN News scored it 115-112 for Garcia.
"As the fight went on, I started hurting him," Garcia said in his post-fight interview. "I started closing the gap and feeling better with the rhythm and timing, and it worked out well."
Early on, Vargas proved he was the bigger man by staying on the outside, snapping off the jab, and using his power to keep Garcia at bay. Things were looking similar to when Garcia was dominated last March by IBF 147-pound champion Errol Spence Jr.
But the complexion of the entire bout changed in the fifth round when Garcia landed a crisp left jab and then a sharp right to send Vargas to the canvas. It was all Garcia from there. He was the one backing up Vargas with his power and fighting off the jab to earn his first win at welterweight.
What's next for the 32-year-old? Big fights and big fights only.
"I think I have great options," Garcia said. "I'm ready to get back in with the best. I would love to fight against Manny Pacquiao, or a rematch with Errol Spence. I'm better now at this weight class. I want to continue to campaign at 147 and seek a title in a fifth division."
Mikey Garcia vs. Jessie Vargas results
(All times Eastern)
Round 12: An exciting final round as each guy landed hard left hooks to stun each other, but Vargas was the aggressor. Too little, too late. Time for the judges' scores. (10-9 Vargas, 115-112 Garcia)
Round 11: Vargas had his moments, finding a home for the overhand right and the left hand. He needs a knockout to win. (10-9 Vargas, 106-102 Garcia)
Round 10: Garcia nearly scored another knockdown to seal the fight with another left hand and overhand right to the ear to buckle Vargas for a moment. (10-9 Garcia, 97-92 Garcia)
Round 9: Now we're seeing the Garcia who has four world titles in four different weight classes. He's staying patient and fighting off the jab and waiting for Vargas to leave himself open to blast him with the right hand. When does Vargas start going for broke and letting it all hang out? (10-9 Garcia, 87-83 Garcia)
Round 8: Less action in this stanza, and that played into an advantage for Vargas so he could try and rebuild the gas tank a bit. Can he muster one final run as he's getting beaten down? (10-9 Garcia, 77-74 Garcia)
Round 7: Garcia's precision and accuracy is a thing of beauty. He's timing Vargas perfectly and nearly finished it off in the final moments with a barrage of shots. If Garcia had another 30 seconds, it would have been over. Vargas has no pop in his shots. He needs fight off the jab. (10-9 Garcia, 67-65 Garcia)
Round 6: Garcia dicated the entire three minutes while Vargas is still trying to find his legs. He's the one doing the stalking and making Vargas back up. Vargas doesn't look right. He looks exhausted and defeated. If this trend continues for the next two or three rounds, I could see the corner stopping it. (10-9 Garcia, 57-56 Garcia)
Round 5: Vargas was in firm control of the opening minute until Garcia wobbled him a bit with a left hand. Then the complexion changed when a Garcia left jab followed by an overhand right to the side of the head put Vargas on shaky legs. Moments later, Garcia went right back to the same combination to send Vargas to the mat. Vargas smiled getting up, and Garcia tried to close it but was unable too. Vargas is in a world of trouble. (10-8 Garcia, 47-47)
Round 4: Vargas is fighting the perfect fight at this point. The jab is on point and he stunned Garcia with a punch. Something to watch: Vargas looked pretty tired walking back to his corner and had blood dripping down his nose. (10-9 Vargas, 39-37 Vargas)
Round 3: That was the best round of Garcia's short run at welterweight. He got into a rhythm, landing a couple of left jabs and the overhand right. Let's see if Garcia can continue his success. (10-9 Garcia, 29-28 Garcia)
Round 2: Garcia looked better in the round but Vargas is landing the crisper shots. Liked what I saw from Garcia in the latter stages. He started to find a home with the jab and the right hand. (10-9 Vargas, 20-18 Vargas)
Round 1: Vargas fought a smart round. He let Garcia know he has the reach advantage by popping the jab and then showed the power with a couple of solid left hooks to catch his attention. (10-9 Vargas)
11:13 p.m.: It's time for the main event as Mikey Garcia battles Jessie Vargas in welterweight action. Garcia (39-1, 30 KOs), a former four-division world champion, attempts to rebound from the first loss of his career at the hands of IBF champion Errol Spence Jr. last March. Standing in the way is the former two-division titleholder in Vargas (29-2-2, 11 KOs), who scored a stoppage win over Humberto Soto in a 150-pound catchweight bout in April.
Can Garcia truly compete at welterweight and secure a big win? Or will Vargas prove size does matter?
Roman "Chocolatito" Gonzalez scores thunderous knockout of Kal Yafai to capture super flyweight title
10:53 p.m.: Gonzalez def. Yafai by knockout at 0:29 of the ninth round to win the WBA super flyweight championship.
After notching a knockdown in the eighth round, Gonzalez didn't waste time and closed the show in the ninth. He came right at Yafai, threw a left jab and blasted him with his signature thunderous right hand to send Yafai packing. "Chocolatito" makes a successful comeback.
Gonzalez has been written off ever since the losses to Sor Rungvisai. But he had knee issues and the death of his trainer, who was his lifelong mentor. Good to have Gonzalez back where he belongs in the upper echelon of the 115-pound weight class.
Round 8: The relentless pressure from Gonzalez finally took its toll on Yafai. It started with a straight right hand that snapped Yafai's head back. Gonzalez kept the foot the pedal and threw a left to the body and then a short right hand to send Yafai to the canvas. Yafai got up and and survived the round. He doesn't look right whatsoever. I don't think he survives the ninth round. (10-8 Gonzalez, 78-73 Gonzalez)
Round 7: Gonzalez is picking up steam in a hurry. He's now the one walking Yafai down and making him back up with one right hook after another. Is Yafai broken, or can he find a way to come back? It's slipping away and in a hurry. (10-9 Gonzalez, 68-65 Gonzalez)
Round 6: Yafai isn't learning his lesson and is paying for it. Gonzalez is ripping him apart to the body and now doing it upstairs, as he wobbled Yafai on more than one occasion. Yafai is trying to out-punch one of the best volume punchers in the last 20 years. (Gonzalez 10-9, 58-56 Gonzalez)
Round 5: Yafai's insistence on fighting on the inside is hurting him. He's playing right into Gonzalez's hands allowing him to mix up his shots and landing at will. Will Yafai go to the outside and box? (10-9 Gonzalez, 48-47 Gonzalez)
Round 4: A close round until the final minute when Gonzalez connected on a solid three-punch combination that backed Yafai up. Gonzalez is confusing Yafai with the angles on offense and defense. Yafai needs to find a counter to that. (10-9 Gonzalez, 38-38)
Round 3: Surprised Yafai continues to stay in the pocket and not box on the outside. Yafai walked him down and landed the harder shots. Gonzalez needs to keep it inside the distance and throw first. (10-9 Yafai, 29-28 Yafai)
Round 2: Great round for "Chocolatito". He's landing every which way with the left hand. Let's see how Yafai adjusts — standing in front of him isn't the right recipe. (10-9 Gonzalez, 19-19)
Round 1: Action-packed opening round that was contested on the inside. Both guys threw a lot but Yafai landed the crisper shots. (10-9 Yafai)
10:08 p.m.: It is time for the co-main event of Garcia vs. Vargas, as Kal Yafai puts the WBA super flyweight championship against Roman "Chocolatito" Gonzalez. Yafai (26-0, 15 KOs) looks to defend the title for the sixth time after winning the vacant belt in December 2016. For a two-year period, Gonzalez (48-2, 40 KOs) was the consensus No. 1-ranked pound-for-pound fighter in the sport until back-to-back defeats to Sriskat Sor Rungvisai. Does the former four-division world champion have anything left? This is the fight Yafai's been looking for. Can he step up to the plate?
Julio Cesar Martinez beats Jay Harris in an exciting fight to retain WBC title
9:50 p.m.: Martinez def. Harris via unanimous decision (118-109, 116-111, 115-112) to retain the WBC flyweight championship.
One of the most exciting fights of the year. Martinez and Harris fought for 36 minutes in the kitchen sink and neither took a back seat to the other as they threw nearly 1,000 power punches alone. It came down to Martinez landing the harder shots, especially to the body, which resulted in a knockdown in the 10th round.
The style of Martinez makes him of the most dynamic boxers in the sport. He's electricfying in every way possible and is quickly rising as a must-watch every time he steps into the ring.
9:36 p.m.: Martinez sent Harris crumbling to the canvas with two thudding body shots. Harris has a ton of guts because most guys would have taken the count and called it a day. Yet, he continues to move forward.
9:29 p.m.: Just when Martinez appears to be on his way to putting Harris away, Harris roars back with hard shots.
9:21 p.m.: A commanding lead for Martinez through six rounds. He's more active and throwing the heavier shots. The power on his punches is vicious. How Harris is standing shows how much he has. Can Harris continue to withstand the onslaught? He's battered, bloody and bruised and showing a ton of guts.
9:09 p.m.: What a fun fight through three rounds. We are getting rock 'em sock 'em robots in the middle of the ring. Martinez and Harris are hitting each other with some of their best shots. All types of fun thus far. The way they are exchanging makes one think it's ending in a stoppage.
8:52 p.m.: Up next at Garcia vs. Vargas is Julio Cesar Martinez defending the WBC flyweight championship against Jay Harris. Martinez (15-1, 12 KOs) is one of the most exciting fighters in the sport. He has an exciting switch-hitting style rarely seen. The native of Mexico has quick hands with superb footwork. He likes to stand and trade in the pocket. Harris (17-0, 9 KOs) competes in the United States for the first time. He knocked out Paddy Barnes to earn a title shot.
Don't get up because you may miss something.
Joseph Parker notches an impressive stoppage of Shawndell Winters
8:40 p.m.: Parker def. Winters by TKO at 2:40 of the fifth round.
The finishing sequence began with a blistering right hand by Parker that appeared to knock Winters out on his feet. Sensing he had Winters ripe for the taking, the Kiwi blasted him with another right hand followed by left hook and sealed the deal with a right hand to send the Illinois native partially through the ring.
Parker got exactly what he needed. A stoppage was of the utmost importance considering Anthony Joshua, Tyson Fury and Deontay Wilder are essentially locked in fights for the rest of 2020. He's in a holding pattern. As long Parker keeps looking impressive, he will work his way to another chance of becoming a champion.
Parker wanted to put him to sleep with this shot. 😴 pic.twitter.com/p5VI75dPqU— DAZN USA (@DAZN_USA) March 1, 2020
8:34 p.m.: Give Winters credit. He bounced back with a good fourth round. He connected on some sharp uppercuts and left hands which caused a cut on the right eyebrow of Parker. Does Parker show any urgency or continue the pace he has set?
8:30 p.m.: In the final 20 seconds of the third round, Parker flicked the jab and immediately threw a nasty overhand right that had Winters hanging onto the ropes for dear life, but he fell to the canvas. He made it to the bell. Let's see if Parker tries to close the show in the fourth.
8:10 p.m.: Kicking off the main card of Garcia vs. Vargas is former WBO heavyweight champion Joseph Parker taking on Shawndell Winters. Parker (26-2, 20 KOs) has rebounded from consecutive losses to Anthony Joshua and Dillian Whyte with back-to-back wins over Alexander Flores and, most recently, former world title challenger Alex Leapai via 10th-round TKO. He'd been expected to face Dereck Chisora in October but had to bow out after suffering a spider bite.
Winters (13-2, 12 KOs) comes in having won two straight by going into enemy territory and stopping Oleksandr Teslenko and Sergiej Werwejko.
A big fight for Parker to stay the course in what's become a top-heavy weight class. Needs to look impressive to insert himself into the conversation.
8:05 p.m.: The former four-division world champion has arrived.
7:55 p.m.: Welcome to DAZN News' live coverage of Mikey Garcia vs. Jessie Vargas. Top-to-bottom, this main card is the best so far in 2020. So, sit back and grab he refreshments in what should be an exciting night of action.
Garcia vs. Vargas undercard results
- Diego Pacheco def. Oscar Riojas via unanimous decision (60-54, 60-54, 60-54); Super Middleweight
- Alexis Espino def. Delvecchio Savage by unanimous decision (60-54, 59-55, 59-55); Super Middleweight
- Leo Ruiz Acevedo def. Dennis Knifechief via TKO at 1:44 of the third round; Jr. Middleweight
- Jesse Rodriguez def. Marco Sustaita by TKO at 1:10 of the eighth round; Flyweight