Cool, Calm, Concussive: Garcia & Crawford Stay Perfect with KOs

by Eric Raskin

Juan Manuel Lopez, Mikey Garcia - Photo: Ed Mulholland

For the final 24 hours leading up to the Miguel Angel "Mikey" Garcia vs. Juan Manuel Lopez card in Dallas, the talk was all about two pounds. By the time the fight card was over, the talk had shifted to two poundings.

Garcia failed to make the 126-pound weight limit at Friday's weigh-in, coming in at 128 and having to give up his featherweight belt. Speculation swirled about how this might affect the fight. Would Garcia be weakened and more susceptible to an upset loss? Would he have an unfair size advantage? As it turned out the weight was irrelevant, and just like lightweight Terence Crawford in the co-featured bout against Alejandro Sanabria, Garcia was dominant and ultimately destructive in racking up a nearly drama-free knockout victory. The two pounds were quickly forgotten. The back-to-back poundings at American Airlines Arena made a more lasting impression.

Read the Complete Mikey Garcia vs. Juan Manuel Lopez Fight Recap on HBO.com.

Crawford Escapes Close Shave, Enters Spotlight

by Kieran Mulvaney


Promoter Bob Arum was almost overcome with enthusiasm and glee.

Leaning over the ringside media tables following Terence Crawford's victorious HBO debut in March, he enthused that the young prospect, who had just completed his first 10-round bout, was ready to "beat the shit out of [lightweight champion Adrien] Broner right now."

The crowd at the Mandalay Bay, it must be said, hadn't exactly ululated in appreciation of what they had seen. They had shown up in anticipation of a blood-and-guts slobberknocker from headliners Mike Alvarado and Brandon Rios, and had no patience for an appetizer of fistic artistry. Their occasional boos as Crawford outboxed Breidis Prescott led veteran boxing scribe Ivan Goldman to note that "Las Vegas attracts some of the least knowledgeable crowds around."

What Crawford achieved that night was quite remarkable. A relatively untested and unknown lightweight prospect, he had stepped in at just a week's notice to move up a weight division against a man who had previously knocked Amir Khan silly in one round and taken Alvarado to the very precipice of defeat. Yet Crawford stepped in against the much bigger, much more experienced man and proceeded to spend 10 rounds making Prescott look befuddled and bereft of ideas, as if the hapless Colombian and not the Nebraskan upstart were the ingénue.

As a result of that performance, Crawford makes his sophomore appearance on HBO on Saturday, when he takes on Mexico's Alejandro Sanabria in the chief supporting bout to Mikey Garcia's featherweight title defense against Juan Manuel Lopez in Dallas. The praise he has received, not just from his promoter but from fellow fighters such as Andre Ward, Timothy Bradley and Nonito Donaire, is encouraging. His emergence as a name fighter is all the more impressive given that, as a result of string of bad decisions on one day five years ago, Crawford had come perilously close to becoming just another statistic, with a name that would remain forever unknown except to readers of crime blotters.

Those bad decisions culminated in him joining in a dice game that he knew, deep down, he should stay away from. When the game grew heated, he decided to leave; but as he sat in his car, he paused to count the money he had won. That was when the gunshot rang out, and the bullet shattered his car window and struck his head.

Covered in blood, he was nonetheless able to drive himself to the hospital where he learned that, incredibly, the bullet had not penetrated his skull: the window pane had slowed it down just enough.

It had been the ultimate close shave, and for Crawford it was a signal to focus on positive pursuits, including a professional boxing career that was then just a few months old, and the girlfriend with whom he now has a two-year-old son, Terence Crawford III. Now there is an eager expectation that Crawford may well prove to be one of the very brightest prospects in boxing – and certainly one of the most promising pugilists to ever emerge from the relative boxing coldbed of Omaha, Nebraska.

First, however, Crawford must overcome Sanabria, whose 34 wins include a 2011 defeat of former world title challenger Rocky Juarez, who has lost just one of 36 outings, and who is on a 10-fight winning streak. On paper, it seems a tough ask; but no more so than the last-minute challenge of Prescott that launched him into the spotlight. But then, for anyone who can take a bullet to the skull and survive, presumably few trials seem insurmountable: not stepping in to the ring against Prescott, not taking on Sanabria, and not "beating the shit" out of any opponent placed in his path. 

CompuBox Analysis: Garcia vs. Lopez

by CompuBox

For Mikey Garcia, Saturday night's showdown with former two-division titlist Juan Manuel Lopez is the first fight of the rest of his career. Up until now he was the aspiring pursuer bent on toppling the best but now he is the pursued target of all who oppose him. Beating him means making history while for Garcia his aim is merely keeping what he already has.

For Lopez, the Garcia fight is his ticket back to prominence. At age 29 he is no longer the fresh-faced bomber who appeared on pound-for-pound lists but a twice-beaten battler who either gets his man or gets "got." A loss here would force him to ask questions of himself he'd rather not tackle while a victory means at least one more big payday -- if not more.

Several statistical factors could determine the identity of winner and loser.

Read the Complete Mikey Garcia vs. Juan Manuel Lopez CompuBox Analysis on HBO.com.

Related: Read the Complete Terence Crawford vs. Alejandro Sanabria CompuBox Analysis on HBO.com.

A Patient Mikey Garcia Gets His First Test

by Hamilton Nolan


The first thing you may notice watching Mikey Garcia fight is that he is calmer than you are. He is calmer than the fans, and his corner, and, always, calmer than his opponent. He has no reason not to be. So far, patience has never failed him.

At the age of 25, Garcia’s record stands at 31-0 with 26 knockouts. He is a case study in how to properly manage a young fighter’s career. (And he should be, given the fact that his brother, Robert Garcia, is one of the world’s best trainers.) Garcia has been brought along slowly. He has not taken too much punishment. His level of competition has increased gradually and steadily. And now, in his physical prime, he gets his first real world class fight, against the somewhat battered but still dangerous puncher Juan Manuel Lopez.

Lopez himself is a prime example of a career that was not properly managed. Just two years ago, he too was undefeated, and, along with Yuriorkis Gamboa, one of the two most hyped fighters in the lightweight division. So well hyped, in fact, that his managers thought it was a good idea to squeeze a few more stepping stone fights out of him before making the big match with Gamboa that the world wanted to see. But as often happens in boxing, the script was derailed by a determined underdog; Lopez found himself TKO’d by the hard-headed veteran Orlando Salido. What could have been a minor setback turned into existential disaster for Lopez’s career when he was TKO’d once again by Salido in a rematch last year. Now, "JuanMa" -- who was oh-so-recently mentioned as one of the most exciting and dangerous fighters in the world -- finds himself with one last chance to salvage his reputation as a true A-level boxer. His fight against Garcia is a real shot at redemption. It might be his last shot, before he is shuffled off into the dreaded category of “tough opponent,” rather than “world-class contender.”

So then, we have the classic Young Contender on the Rise vs. Veteran Desperate to Prove He’s Still Got It. But that’s reductive to a fault. Until now, Mikey Garcia has only fought in mismatches. This fight is not a mismatch. That means that anything can happen. The betting public will take note of the fact that Orlando Salido beat Lopez twice, but was thoroughly battered and defeated by Garcia in January. And indeed, Garcia will be the favorite in this fight. But it’s useful to remember that past performance is not always a reliable guide when a young fighter gets his first real taste of top-level competition. Especially -- as Lopez will provide -- top level power.

Read the Complete Mikey Garcia vs. Juan Manuel Lopez Fight Overview at HBO.com.