Yea. Andre Ward V Sergey Kovalev was a superfight– but it wasn't a frontrunner for Fight of The Year.
This would be both.
Mikey Garcia (36-0, 30KOs) yanked the WBC lightweight belt from an unconscious Dejan Zlaticanin (22-1, 15KOs), courtesy of a short, massive overhand right to the head with around :40 remaining in the 3rd round.
Zlaticanin (whose name looks like a late night infomercial drug) was immediately side-effected, and landed on the canvas like a brick from the 3rd floor.
The sequence was crazy. Mikey landed a massive right uppercut before getting him spun slightly with a left hook; then, he side-stepped to deliver the Nyquil.
In the process, Garcia became a 3-division world champion, just 6 months after a 2 1/2 year hiatus stemming from a legal war with Bob Arum and Top Rank. Now, the 29 year-old Riverside, California native is in position to pull rank.
Close to around this time last year, I sat in Madison Square Garden and watched the fighter who replaced him in Top Rank's pecking order, Terence “Bud” Crawford, hammer and nail “Hammering” Hank Lundy in spectacular fashion. Crawford went on to embarass a highly regarded then WBC super lightweight champion Viktor Postol for divisional supremacy.
A week later, I was also present in Brooklyn for Garcia's return against Elio Rojas last July, which saw him come in at 138. Totally within the “Bud” zone as Mikey is a big lightweight.
Because they are no longer under the same Top Rank umbrella, on the surface, it might seem difficult to make this fight. Considering, though, we're likely to see an MMA/Boxing merger of sorts in Conor MacGregor V Floyd Mayweather, absolutely anything can get done this year. Besides, Bob was willing to make Pacquiao V Broner in conjunction with Al Haymon. Mikey Garcia V Terence Crawford is a far better, much more important fight.
Of course, we don't know how things will play out. Garcia has title belt company at 135; as he can challenge the UK's feisty WBO strapper Terry Flanagan overseas, new IBF beltholder Robert Easter, or the machine-gun firing WBA/RING champion Jorge Linares (if Anthony Crolla isn't in the mix).
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CRAWFORD V GARCIA
Let's start by saying RING Magazine has to alter its current pound-for-pound rankings and include Mikey Garcia. As of Friday, Crawford rated #5 and Carl Frampton claimed #10. Assuming Frampton's out after losing to Santa Cruz, Mikey's gotta get in (So does Errol Spence Jr, but pffft..).
A case can be made for a very possible Vasyl Lomachenko confrontation, but at this moment, Garcia V Crawford just makes more sense. Plus they have history.
In a phone interview a few months ago with Mikey, I brought up the possibility of Crawford. “He beat me at the 2007 World's and all he did was run,” said Garcia. “Things are different now that we're at this level. That's a fight I want.”
Bud had a different recollection on their encounter when I caught up with him at Pacquiao V Vargas, noting that he ‘ran away with the victory' while acknowledging Garcia's skills. “Look (Mikey) he's a tough out, but he can get it,” said Crawford with conviction.
“We” should get it.
This is a lot like Hearns V Duran being contested between undefeated fighters of identical prime age (29) settling things at 140. Though neither has really seen anything like the other– neither man imagines defeat, as both are huge punchers with different variety.
Stylistically this match-up is peanut butter & jelly, given their dual desire for a knockout and a shared nastiness in the ring. The MGM Grand crowd (were it held there) would get a thriller for the ages.