Mikey Garcia hadn’t fought in nearly two years before stepping into the ring for what was perceived as a tune-up fight Saturday in Fresno, California, against Sandor Martin.
But for the second time in his last three fights, Garcia was thoroughly outboxed and went down to defeat. He lost a majority decision Saturday, as judge Zachary Young scored it 95-95, but judges Carla Caiz and Fernando Villareal saw it 97-93 each for Martin. Yahoo Sports had it 96-94 for Martin.
The last time Garcia lost, it was on March 16, 2019, in Arlington, Texas, in a heavily hyped bout between undefeated stars when he was blanked by Errol Spence Jr.
Spence is now and was then one of the game’s superstars, and it wasn’t wholly unexpected that he’d defeat Garcia.
But it was a stunner on Saturday when Martin pulled it off at Chukchansi Park. He outboxed Garcia from the start, countering effectively and giving Garcia fits with his movement and his angles.
“It’s the biggest moment of my career,” said Martin, who entered the welterweight bout with a 38-2 mark but not a single notable win. “I always said I was going to do it and I’ve done it.”
He did it by controlling his emotions, sticking to the game plan, boxing masterfully and never allowing himself to get out of the moment.
Garcia is a four-division champion who has long been regarded as one of the best fighters in the world, regardless of weight. He had been linked to a number of big fights since his last outing, a decision over Jessie Vargas in Frisco, Texas, on Feb. 29, 2020.
But Martin fought with the poise and the skill of a veteran and he systematically picked Garcia apart.
“I know myself and I know my capabilities,” Martin said. “I’ve been doing this since I was 5 years old. I said I was going to do this, to go out and beat the best fighters in the world, and that’s what I’ve done.
“I knew I had to frustrate him. He’s a complete boxer. He’s not a natural 140-145 pounder and so we had to use that to our advantage.
Garcia always seemed a half-step slow and his body language gave off an appearance of acceptance as Martin was outworking him.
Garcia said his layoff didn’t impact him and said he thought he’d won the fight.
“I’m fine. I’m not bruised up and he didn’t put a beating on me,” Garcia said. “It was a good fight, a competitive fight. I thought I was winning the fight in a close match-up, but as I said, the judges saw it the other way around.
“No, [I didn’t underestimate him], not at all. I knew he was a very good boxer. I’ve seen some of his films. I knew he could box. That’s why I kept being the aggressor, coming forward, but I couldn’t be reckless, either, because he was looking for those counters. I still believe I did enough to win the rounds, seeing as I was the aggressor [who was] looking for the fight.”
Garcia said he would like a rematch, one that goes 12 rounds and not 10 as it did Saturday. Martin said Garcia had given him an opportunity so he’d afford Garcia the same courtesy.