In one of the biggest surprises in boxing recently, Spaniard Sandor Martin scored a majority win over fourth-division champion Mickey Garcia on Saturday in Fresno, California.
Martín (39-2, 13 KOs) has never competed at the world level before; This was his first fight in the US, and he was supposed to be an opponent to keep Garcia busy, who has not fought since February 2020 and was considering a fight in early 2022 with Regis Prograis.
Instead, Martin, the 10-1 loser, stunned the world by 10 rounds, winning score cards 95-95, 97-93 and 97-93.
“He was the one who ran a lot,” said Garcia, who is ranked eighth in welterweight by ESPN. “I thought I was winning the fight in a close match.
“I thought I did enough to win the rounds. I was the aggressor I was looking to fight. There are no excuses, that’s right.”
Martin, 28, boxed from the back foot and was able to set the time with the more aggressive Garcia with straight arms all night.
As the rounds went on, it became clear that this wasn’t just a quick start for the underdog against a rusty fighter, but a surprise in the making.
Garcia (40-2, 30 KOs) pushed the action, but didn’t show real urgency even though the fight, and perhaps his status as an elite fighter, was evident.
Martín was chosen to be Garcia’s opponent who would give him the rounds, but he wouldn’t threaten to win. However, he had other ideas in his first fight against a world competition.
“He’s a legend,” Martin said in Spanish through an interpreter, “I had the pleasure of sharing the ring with him.” “It’s the best moment of my career. I’ve always said I would do it and I did.
“I know myself; I know my ability. He’s a complete boxer, but he’s not a normal 147-pound fighter.”
Garcia clinched the titles at 126, 130, 135 and 140 pounds. In his bid to become a five-team champion, he was dominated by Errol Spence, Jr., in a fight for the welterweight title in 2019.
Despite a sluggish performance against Spence, Garcia remained at £147 for a tougher-than-expected unanimous decision on Jesse Vargas in February 2020.
Garcia was in talks to fight the 140-pound Prograis this fall, but when DAZN was unwilling to shell out the millions needed to finish the fight, Garcia decided to fight Martin in an effort to get rid of the rust.
It turns out that lethargy and the added weight finally caught up with him, with Garcia looking sluggish and skewed. He couldn’t get his patent kits or locate Martin with an excellent punch.
Garcia is considered one of the best trainers in boxing – trained by his older brother, the famous coach Robert Garcia – but his usual timing seemed to be hampered by a long period of inactivity.
Martin also deserves a lot of recognition. He patiently cornered for 10 rounds behind his left hand kick and made Garcia push multiple times with combos.
He was not like the man who lost to marginal contender Anthony Leggett in 2017 and would return to Spain as a sporting champion even without the title.
Martin said he is open to a rematch with Garcia, but plans to return to 140 pounds to pursue his title shot.
On the other hand, Garcia finds himself at a crossroads, a famous boxer who has already accomplished a lot. At 33, he has plenty left, but 140 pounds (or 135) seems to be a lot better for Garcia. In order to truly reclaim his former status as one of the best fighters in the world, he desperately needs a sure win over Martin in the rematch.