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Talking Boxing

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January 29, 2017

Brief encounter

Mikey Garcia, Dejan Zlaticanin, Robert Garcia, Showtime

Image courtesy of Esther Lin/SHOWTIME

by Shaun Brown

Mikey Garcia (36-0, 30 KOs) gave a scintillating display to become WBC world lightweight champion and a three-weight champion in the process.

The 29-year-old California walked in as challenger and favourite against Montenegro's Dejan Zlaticanin (22-1, 15 KOs) who was making the first defence of the green belt after winning the vacant version last June against Franklin Mamani.

Zlaticanin's power was expected to play a part in this fight, but from what seemed like the first second Garcia came out and simply dominated the champion with his jab.

Garcia was looking sturdier with more meat behind his shots and Zlaticanin couldn't find a way to close the gap to impose himself. The Montenegrin was one-paced, predictable and took jab after jab as well as a double right hand from the challenger in the first round.

The champion landed his first meaningful shot of the fight in the second round. A left hand that looked good on camera but did nothing to put a dent in Garcia.

Garcia's rapier jab was world class, everything about him was world class... in fact it was he who looked every inch the champion with Zlaticanin a challenger plucked from nowhere brought in to make Garcia look good.

After a comfortable two rounds Garcia stomped home his authority with a brutal finish to the fight in round three.

Garcia tapped Zlaticanin with a left hand before a highlight reel right uppercut had his now outclassed opponent in a world of trouble. After whipping in another left hand, Zlaticanin found himself staggering towards the ropes, and as he turned round, almost with a smile on his face, he was met with a right hand that brought out the frustration of those two and a half years away from the sport for Garcia.

The champion's lights were out as he crashed to the deck as referee Tony Weeks immediately waved the fight off with the medical team rushing to the dethroned champion's aid. After a few minutes, and some oxygen, Zlaticanin was brought to his feet and looked to be okay, much to the relief of his team, Garcia and the fans in attendance.

This was a statement from Garcia. He announced himself once again as one of the finest fighters not only in the 135lbs division but in the world. 

Speaking about how the fight ended, Garcia told Showtime's Jim Gray afterwards: "I'm glad he (Zlaticanin) was able to recover. I told him he's still a champion. Once a champion, always a champion."

"It was a great peformance," the new champion added.

"I fought smart, controlled the ring. We had a great gameplan. The left hand was going to be key, followed with a right hand and we were able to hurt him."

And Garcia had a message to fellow world lightweight champions; Jorge Linares, Terry Flanagan and Robert Easter: "I'm available to all the other champions. I'm ready to unify titles. Possibly later this year move up to 140lbs to another division."