With one of the most violent and stomach-clenching knockouts in recent years, Mikey Garcia (36-0, 30 KOs) came back with a vengeance to the championship boxing scene after outboxing and then crushing Dejan Zlaticanin (22-1, 15 KOs) in the third round.
Zlaticanin, who appeared on paper to be a solid upstart with a good knockout ratio and track record, found himself in hot water early, not knowing how to take the fight to Garcia. If there was a gameplan at all, it was the wrong one.
Garcia used his jab beautifully from the opening bell and Zlaticanin was befuddled, looking like a small Jake Lamotta, doing his best to bully his way in and get Garcia on the ropes. Garcia, however, was simply too well rounded for the young man from Montenegro.
“We were controlling the pace and distance right away from the first round,” Garcia said after the fight. “I saw some openings and thought I could hurt him later down the road, but I wasn’t expecting it to be that soon in the fight.”
By the middle of the second round, Garcia’s work rate was increasing exponentially and he was diversifying his attack, ripping to both body and head much to the grimace of Zlaticanin.
But it all fell apart in the third with a crushing series of blows that sent Zlaticanin to the ground. Referee Tony Weeks called a halt to the fight without even picking up the count.
Garcia’s celebration didn’t last particularly long as it became apparent that Zlaticanin wasn’t regaining consciousness and was limp as the medical team rushed to his assistance. After being administered oxygen for a minute or so, Zlaticanin came back to, relieving the lingering anxiety.
“I’m very happy he’s okay,” Garcia said. “Concern does kick in when I saw he was still laying there for a few minutes. I’m glad he’s okay.”