One of the biggest ups and downs in boxing in recent times, Spaniard Sander Martin won a majority decision over former four-division champion Mickey Garcia in Fresno, California on Saturday.
Martin (39-2, 13 KOs) has never competed globally before; This should be his first fight in the United States, an opponent to keep Garcia busy, who has not fought since February 2020 and intends to fight Regis Progress in early 2022.
Instead, Martin, trailing 10-1, stunned the world by 10 rounds with scores of 95-95, 97-93 and 97-93.
“He ran a lot,” said Garcia, who finished eighth in ESPN’s Welderweight. “I thought I had won a close match.
“I thought I did enough to win the rounds. I’m an aggressor looking to fight. There’s no excuse, that’s right.”
Martin, 28, was able to spend time with the more intense Garcia on the left side of the box and straight left from the back foot.
As the rounds went on, it became clear that this was not a quick start for the underdog against the rusty fighter, but a surprise in preparation.
Garcia (40-2, 30 KOs) pushed the act, but showed no real urgency despite his level of fighting and perhaps slipping into his position as an elite fighter.
Martin was chosen as Garcia’s opponent, who would give him rounds, but did not threaten to win. However, he had other ideas in his first fight against world-class competition.
“He was a legend, and was happy to share the ring with him,” Martin said through the Spanish translator. “It was the best moment of my career. I always said I was going to do it, and I did.
“I know myself; I know my ability. He’s a complete boxer, but he’s not a natural fighter with 147 pounds.”
Garcia won titles at 126, 130, 135 and 140 pounds. In his quest to become a five-division champion, he was dominated by Errol Spence Jr. in the 2019 Welder Weight title competition.
Despite the sluggish performance against Spence, Garcia was at 147 pounds in February 2020 to make a more unanimous decision on Jesse Vargas than expected.
Garcia negotiated to fight Progress at 140 pounds this fall, but when DAZN did not want to pull out the millions of dollars needed to end the fight, Garcia decided to fight Martin in a rusty attempt.
As Garcia was slow and guilty, inaction and extra weight finally caught up with him. Unable to get his patent combinations or find Martin through his excellent jab.
Garcia is considered one of the best coaches in boxing – he was coached by his older brother, the famous coach Robert Garcia – but his long-term inactivity seemed to disrupt his regular schedule.
Martin also deserves a lot of credit. He boxed patiently 10 rounds behind his left arm jab and made Garcia pay with multiple additions.
He does not look like he lost margin rival Anthony Yigit in 2017 and will return to Spain as an athlete without a title.
Martin said he was ready to compete with Garcia again, but plans to return 140 pounds to pursue a header shot.
Garcia, on the other hand, finds himself at a crossroads, and the famous boxer has already achieved a lot. At 33, he has a lot, but 140 pounds (or 135) is the best weight for Garcia. To truly regain his former status as one of the best pound fighters in the world, he must win back over Martin.