Mikey Garcia had a coming-out party on the big stage tonight on HBO Boxing After Dark, but the end result was still a little bit unsatisfying.
Garcia won the WBO featherweight title from Orlando Salido, scoring four knockdowns along the way, but took the belt in a fight cut short on an accidental headbutt that broke Garcia's nose, winning on scores of 79-69, 79-69, and 79-70 after eight rounds of action. BLH had it 79-69 for Garcia, who floored Salido twice in the first round, and again in the third and fourth rounds.
Before the mild criticism, let me say this: Mikey Garcia was excellent tonight, and dissected a very good fighter, a hard-nosed veteran who hadn't been beaten this handily since Juan Manuel Marquez picked Salido apart in 2004, and even that wasn't as totally one-sided as this was.
But it seemed to me, and this is just a personal take on the situation, that Garcia's corner, specifically his trainer and older brother Robert, worked the situation to their advantage a bit. Yes, Garcia's nose was broken on an accidental headbutt (there's some question as to whether it was an accident at all), but they seemed to make the call to push it to the scorecards very quickly. In a way, it seemed like taking the guaranteed win rather than testing the waters with the valiant and still-charging Salido any further.
After the fight, Garcia (31-0, 26 KO) said he would give Salido (39-12-2, 27 KO) a rematch, but there's probably no demand for that. This wasn't competitive at all, really.
No matter how you slice it, we did see Garcia's great talent on display tonight. The 25-year-old prospect graduated to top fighter status with this win, handling Salido with ease for the vast majority of the bout. It was an extremely impressive performance from the young fighter, who now will get plenty of due credit as possibly the best featherweight in the world. He outclassed Salido, and that's no easy task.