This past Saturday night Showtime Championship Boxing broadcasted two exciting world title fights live from the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada.
The card was thrilling from start to finish.
A card as powerful as this one was will have great implications on the boxer’s rankings, the pound-for-pound lists, possible awards and future super-fights.
So, let’s take a look at what made this card so special.
1. Mikey Garcia Is Officially Back!
Mikey Garcia (23-0, 16 KOs) just a couple years ago was seen by many as one of the top five pound-for-pound fighter’s in the world. After a making his return from a 16 month long layoff in July of 2016, many critics and fans were left wondering if Garcia was still the dangerous and feared fighter he was before his legal contact issues left him in a stalemate.
With only the one tune up fight since his return, Garcia wasted no time seeking another world title by challenging the WBC Lightweight champion, Dejan Zlaticanin (22-1, 15 KOs). The very tough Zlaticanin was said to be a dangerous fight and perhaps taken be too soon for Garcia.
Garcia proved all of the doubters wrong with just three punches. Garcia landed a right uppercut, left hook and followed up with a thunderous right hand putting Zlaticanin to the canvas, where he laid unconscious for several minutes needing medical attention before rising to his feet.
And just like that… Mikey Garcia was officially back.
2. Frampton vs. Santa Cruz Is Nearly Epic
Just six months ago, Carl Frampton (23-1, 14 KOs), came across the pond to the United States and defeated Featherweight champion Leo Santa Cruz (33-1-1, 18 KOs) in one of 2016’s most epic battles.
On Saturday night, Santa Cruz was able to avenge his loss to Frampton gaining a unanimous-decision victory, using a highly disciplined approach of staying long and out boxing Frampton instead of trading on the inside with a brute and crafty opponent.
The idea of a trilogy is salivating for boxing fans and a third fight could link Frampton and Santa Cruz together forever. If the third edition of this fight is a close battle it could potentially be one of boxing’s most epic trilogies.
Both fighters seem to hold a great amount of mutual respect for one another and a trilogy seems highly likely.
“I want to fight in Belfast next,” Frampton explained post fight.
“That’s what I want to do. I feel like I’ve been on the road for two years now. My fans are having to pay a lot of money to support me and I want to thank them. I would like to pay them with a fight at home and hopefully that can happen. But again, I think the decision was fair tonight. I think it was fair in the first fight. So let’s get it right and settle the score in number three.”
3. Robert Garcia on Track to be ‘2017 Trainer of The Year’
It’s only the very beginning of 2017 and well-respected boxing trainer Robert Garcia is on a roll. Garcia’s stable of fighters have already acquired two new world titles in a matter of six weeks–dating back to late 2016.
Abner Mares came to Robert Garcia at a crossroads in his boxing career, it was either now or never for Mares as his stock seemed to be declining quickly. Garcia revitalized the inactive Mares and the two convincingly beat Jesus Cuellar in December to win Mares’ fourth world title.
On Saturday night, Robert Garcia cornered his younger brother, Mikey Garcia, as he became a three-division world champion with a vicious third-round knockout of 135-pound titleholder Dejan Zlaticanin.
More of the right moves, any more titles, successful defenses or unifications this year and Robert Garcia could very easily be named the best trainer of 2017.
4. The Right Game Plan is Everything
Leo Santa Cruz was able to avenge his loss to Carl Frampton gaining a unanimous-decision victory strictly on the effectiveness of his game plan.
Santa Cruz, simply put, out boxed the boxer. The characteristically aggressive and forward coming Santa Cruz used a highly disciplined approach of staying long and out boxed Frampton instead of trading on the inside with him.
By keeping a very active jab throughout the fight, Santa Cruz was able to keep the shorter Frampton out of punching range throughout their 12-round bout.
Santa Cruz and his team developed an excellent game plan–one which he executed well. It takes a lot of discipline and restraint for a brawler to stay long and not revert to exchanging toe to toe.
Frampton acknowledged the composure and execution played out by his opponent.
“He was very clever and he used his reach. I think he deserved it. I’m being honest. But it was a very good fight,” said Frampton.
The highly-effective game plan and execution won this fight for Santa Cruz proving that having the right game plan is everything.
5. Showtime Boxing Is on a Roll
Just in the month of January alone, Showtime Championship Boxing has already displayed four world title bouts in their four main or co-main events.
Showtime Championship Boxing has shown a title unification bout in Badou Jack vs. James Degale, shown Leo Santa Cruz avenging his lone career loss to Carl Frampton in their highly anticipated rematch, presented the resurrection of Mikey Garcia and gave us the newly crowned and youngest American world champion in Gervonta Davis.
In March, Premier Boxing Champions and Showtime will air Keith Thurman vs. Danny Garcia for free on CBS network television as the two undefeated Welterweights square off in an extremely-anticipated unification bout.
Showtime Boxing is on a roll and they aren’t slowing down!