Sandor Martin pulled a major upset tonight in Fresno, winning a majority decision over Mikey Garcia in the DAZN main event, probably slamming the door hard on the “Mikey Garcia the welterweight” experiment.
Martin (39-2, 13 KO) came in as a major underdog, but took scores of 97-93 from two judges, with the third card even at 95-95. Bad Left Hook scored the fight 96-94 for Martin, who really did deserve the win, as it’s very hard to find five rounds here for Garcia, let alone more than that.
Martin wasn’t amazing in this fight, and it should be noted that the 28-year-old Spanish southpaw is himself not actually a welterweight. But Garcia (40-2, 30 KO) wasn’t even “himself” at 140, let alone 147 or tonight’s 145 catchweight, and Martin being a natural 140 made some difference.
Garcia’s aggression was never very effective, though he was the front foot fighter in the bout. Martin was able to pick him off consistently with check hooks, landed some good straight left hands, and Garcia struggled to cut off the ring, to get his pressure where he wanted it to go, and he never found an effective jab, either, often caught just following Martin.
In short, Mikey Garcia was out-boxed in this fight, and pretty clearly so.
“Mikey Garcia is a legend, it really was a pleasure to be able to share the ring with him,” Martin said through an interpreter. “It’s the biggest moment of my career. I always said I was going to do it, and I’ve done it. I know myself, I know my capabilities. I’ve been doing this since I was five years old. I said I was going to beat the best fighters in the world, and that’s what I’ve done.”
Martin added, “I knew that I had to frustrate him. He’s a complete boxer, but he’s not a natural 147 lber, and I knew we had to use that to our advantage.”
Asked if he wanted to do a rematch, Martin replied, “If he gave me the opportunity, then maybe I can give him the opportunity. But really what I want to do is go back to 140 lbs and fight world champions.”
“I thought it was a good fight. He fought a very good fight with his boxing. I thought I did (enough) to close the gap, I brought the pressure,” Garcia said. “I was the one actively looking for the fight. I thought I was ahead on the cards. But the judges decided he was the one winning the fight.”
Garcia said he didn’t think his long layoff had any impact on his performance.
“I’ve been training and sparring. He didn’t put a beating on me. I thought I won a good, competitive matchup,” he said. “I knew he was a very good boxer. I knew he could box, that’s why I kept coming forward. I still thought I did enough to win the rounds, but the judges thought he was the one in control.”
Asked about the rematch idea, Garcia told Chris Mannix, “I would definitely consider the rematch. I think two more rounds could have made the difference, I thought I was coming on better in the later rounds. But there’s no excuses, that’s the way it is.”
Barring knockdowns or a stoppage, two more rounds in this fight — both going Garcia’s way — still would have led to a split decision win for Martin.
This is obviously a career-changing sort of win for Martin, who will either get a rematch or some other big money fight. The four title belts at 140 are tied up with Josh Taylor right now, who faces Jack Catterall on Dec. 18 and then will look to make a bigger defense in 2022, or he might move up to 147 and leave four belts scattered to the wind, which could be a big chance for Sandor Martin to get a world title fight.
However you want to spin it or try to shake it out, it’s become very clear that Mikey Garcia is definitely not a lightweight, and at 33, may have simply let too much time in his career pass idly for various reasons. He looked extremely flat tonight, like nowhere near a top 10 welterweight or even junior welterweight, probably, and you have to wonder how — or even if — he comes back from this loss, because it’s a big loss, and a lot of it really is down to how ineffective he was.
As much as we always want to focus on what the winner did right or did well, it’s not like Martin was out there putting on an amazing show of skill or power or whatever, Garcia just did not look very good in this fight at all, and Martin beat him with pretty simple stuff, in all honesty.
Marc Castro TKO-1 Angel Luna
A garbage mismatch and showcase for Castro (4-0, 4 KO), who was the hometown guy in Fresno and responsible for quite possibly a majority of the ticket sales. Luna (14-8-1, 7 KO) came in with one of those wildly phony win-loss records, and even a glance at his BoxRec page tells you just how empty it really is. Everyone he’s ever fought who’s any good has handled him with ease, other than one time he did upset Jose “Wonder Boy” Lopez back in 2015, which is where Lopez’s career pretty much went off the tracks for good.
Castro is a legit prospect at 130, no question, but this fight told nobody anything. It is what it is. The hometown fans were happy.
Jonathan Gonzalez SD-12 Elwin Soto
An upset here, but one I think isn’t too big an upset if you know the fighters. Gonzalez (25-3-1, 14 KO) is the sort of fighter who figured able to give the aggressive Soto (19-2, 13 KO) fits, and that’s what he did. For 12 rounds, this fight was fought on Jonathan Gonzalez’s terms, at his pace, with Soto generally flailing and missing.
Scores were 116-112 across the board, two for Gonzalez and one awful card for Soto that was judged entirely, one assumes, on “aggression,” ignoring that the aggression is supposed to be effective, which it rarely was for Soto tonight. Bad Left Hook had the fight 117-111 for Gonzalez.
Gonzalez, 30, didn’t do anything particularly eye-popping or whatever, but he moved and boxed, pot-shotted Soto almost at will in many rounds, and was gone before the 24-year-old Soto could land in return. “Bomba” had come somewhat close to some good wins before, and you could always see his talent in his defeats, but tonight he put it together and got The Big One. He’s now a world champion.
Jesse Rodriguez TKO-4 Alejandro Burgos
A pretty easy win for “Bam” Rodriguez, who goes to 14-0 (10 KO) and keeps himself right in line for a possible title shot at 108 lbs. Rodriguez originally thought he had a secondary WBA title fight tonight with Esteban Bermudez, but that fell apart late and Burgos stepped in.
Burgos (18-5-1, 15 KO) didn’t offer a lot of resistance, really, as Rodriguez picked him apart for a few rounds, dropped him in the third, and then forced referee Raul Caiz to step in before it got any worse, and it was clear the only option was it getting worse, Burgos had nothing for Rodriguez.
Brock Jarvis TKO-5 Alejandro Frias
A somewhat dicey U.S. debut for Jarvis, a 23-year-old Australian junior lightweight and Jeff Fenech protege, but he got the win and a possibly very valuable learning experience.
Frias (13-5-2, 6 KO) rocked Jarvis (20-0, 18 KO) badly in the second round and had him pretty much out on his feet for much of the round. Referee Edward Callantes really could have called a knockdown against Jarvis at one point, too, but didn’t. Jarvis did manage to survive the round despite making basically every mistake you can make while hurt, and Frias punched himself out a bit, too.
In the third, fourth, and fifth rounds, Jarvis did a good job taking the momentum back. Frias got some decent shots in in the third, but he was gassed and Jarvis, while certainly not fresh, responded pretty well. It’s clear Jarvis still has a lot to learn — and part of it might be to not give up your physical advantages in order to fight just like Jeff Fenech — but for many reasons you can see why Matchroom like him and signed him.