Saturday night boxing on ESPN and DAZN showcased two rising stars in women’s unified 130 lb. titlist Mikaela Mayer and undefeated lightweight Ryan Garcia. Both fights wound up being one sided unanimous decisions going the full distance. Mayer’s performance was dominant and will advance her reputation further as a dominant champion in women’s boxing and propel her towards larger fights. Garcia’s win has been a mixed bag among observers who saw the twenty three year old dominate but fail to impress.
Mayer fought a consistent fight against Jennifer Han who once held a title at featherweight. I may have said this before but Mayer fights like a smaller Kelly Pavlik. Similar stance, tall for the weight, presses forward behind a hard jab and right hand. Mayer fired a nasty cross down the middle and busted Han’s nose in the fourth round and essentially controlled the action from there. She was defensively responsible, cut off the ring well, and scored power shots frequently. She is now 17-0 with 5 KO’s Han falls to 18-5-1 3 NC 1 KO and Mayer is now positioned to bigger and better things. Holding the WBO and IBF she can unify all four with a fight against Alycia Baumgardener who battered Terri Harper to win the WBC title or WBA titleholder Hyun Mi Choi. Of course there is the option to move up and face the winner of the biggest fight of the year between Katie Taylor and Amanda Serrano which takes place in a few weeks. Personally I like the Baumgardener fight a lot but I feel Taylor can match the physicality.
Ryan Garcia goes the full 12 rounds with Ghana’s Emmanuel Tagoe in clear cut decision with some good and bad takeaways. Garcia came out very aggressively against Tagoe and applied pressure with his feet all night long. The speedy Tagoe moved all around the ring for the first four or five rounds doing a little four corners defense. He ducked very low to avoid the fast assaults by Garcia who fought in explosive spirts. A shove followed by a right hand dropped Tagoe whose feet got a little too close together. Tagoe did not really try to stand and trade until the middle of the fight and scored a nice left hook counter. Tagoe got bolder as the fight went on and attempted the left hook, jab to the chest and the occasional right hand over the left. Garcia got Tagoe in danger in the tenth and it was the closest he came to getting the stoppage but just could not put the tough Ghanaian away. With some holding and tight defense Tagoe made the bell. I had the fight 120-107 but the judges found rounds to give Tagoe somehow.
Garcia pro: Handled the lay off and out of the ring issues well enough to go a full 12 without much difficulty. He displayed the hand speed and power we are accustomed to and was defensively responsible. When he did get hit he took it well and was never in any real danger or lost momentum. In Garcia’s defense Tagoe did not really try to win rounds or engage but survive long enough to cash in on something. Though Goosen said in the lead up that Garcia would have it over by round four he walked that back mid fight stating they knew Tagoe could move and duck and play defense and they were ready for a long fight.
Garcia Con: Still squares up with his opponents which he could get away with tonight. Still leaves his chin in the air and does not move his head much. This could be a real recipe for disaster against a puncher who can time him. He seems to lack ring generalship or a real offensive strategy. They interviewed JoJo Diaz mid fight and he lambasted the performance stating Garcia should have had the fight over by now and is not a smart fighter. Part of the problem is a lack of the jab. He has such snappy and sharp punches that you would expect Garcia to have a venomous jab. He doesn’t, guys will eventually time the speed so he has to find a way to mask his punches. The jab does just that, if he threw more jabs he likely would have ended this fight before the final bell. Another problem that was also pointed out by commentator Chris Mannix was his tendency to smother his work by lunging in. Lunging can be okay if you have an inside game, Garcia was not really able to fight inside. He does not seem capable of ripping power shots in close, using his uppercut on a shorter fighter who ducks down and seems to lack a scrappiness in close. I really don’t want to be nit-picky and poo poo a dominant performance but there are areas for improvement that can certainly be a big issue when he steps up. Of course the gifts he has in speed and power may mask these issues and allow him to get away with it at the highest level.
At this moment I feel that Garcia is the dog against the cream of Kambosos, Haney, Lomachenko, Lopez, Davis, and even JoJo Diaz. In fact I really like the Diaz fight given they were supposed to fight last year and Diaz took aim at him during the broadcast. I say make it happen.