Mikey Garcia knocks out Juan Manuel Lopez in the fourth round. (Getty)
DALLAS – As easy as Mikey Garcia made it look in the ring Saturday night in Dallas, the lead up to the bout was anything but.
Garcia made quick work of former champion Juan Manuel Lopez, knocking him out at 1:35 of the fourth round to remain unbeaten before a crowd of 5,605 at the American Airlines Center.
It betrayed the struggle that Garcia (32-0, 27 KOs) withstood Friday, when he weighed in two pounds over the 126-pound featherweight limit and lost his WBO title.
He basically arrived in Dallas a champion, put on a show for the pro-Garcia crowd, and left as a king without a crown.
"I was upset," Garcia said of his inability to make weight. "I felt like crying a little bit that I was no longer champion."
But he was still championship-caliber in the ring, putting on the type of clinical and precise performance that he's become known for. If there were any effects of the trauma of trying to cut weight, it certainly didn’t show.
"I was pretty beat up, and pretty tired and, yeah, I was dehydrated and I was drained," said Garcia, who entered the ring at 141 pounds, according to brother/trainer Robert Garcia. "We don't know how the fight would have turned out if it would've gone more rounds.
"I don't know how my body would have reacted. I actually think it was a good thing for me that I ended the fight in the fourth round. Maybe if it would have gone a few more rounds, maybe my body would have started to give up."
Giving up is some Mikey Garcia celebrates after knocking out Juan Manuel Lopez. (Getty)
Mikey Garcia celebrates after knocking out Juan Manuel Lopez. (Getty)
"I feel like I can really fight here [at featherweight] and regain my title," he said. "But there's also the move to 130 [super featherweight], and if I decide to stay at 130 because I feel comfortable there after I try it, I may decide to stay there. But I really want to come back to 126. I think this is where I belong. I am the featherweight champ of the world."
It was tough to dispute that Saturday night. Garcia was effective with his jab and straight right hands in the first round as Lopez (33-3, 30 KOs) developed a welt under his left eye.
In the second, he floored Lopez with a big right hand and there was no doubt whose night this would be. He looked as quick as ever in controlling the third, and hurt Lopez in the fourth with a big right hand that set up a finishing left hook. Of course, it was all part of the plan.
"We practiced jab, step back, straight right," Robert said of his brother' fight preparation. "That's all we did in the gym."
Added Mikey: "As soon as I started landing my jab in the first round, I knew I was going to have a good night."
The CompuBox statistics had Garcia throwing 120 jabs and landing 40. Lopez, on the other hand, threw just 68 jabs and landed four, opting to try and land power punches against an evasive and disciplined opponent.
"[Lopez] wanted to get in and exchange and maybe land a good punch," Garcia said. "I wasn't going to let him."
The tactic left Lopez open and vulnerable, and that questionable chin and those defensive deficiencies were proven to be exactly as advertised.
"He knew that on the outside he didn't have much of a chance," Garcia said. "He was getting a little desperate maybe or a little frustrated that he wasn't able to land on the outside."
The loss was the third in the last six bouts for Lopez, who was once considered one of the sport's finest pound-for-pound fighters.
Weight issues notwithstanding, it is now Garcia's turn to emerge as one of the very best in the world.
"There is a chance I may be fighting Rocky Martinez [at super featherweight]. So that's a very interesting fight for me. It's a world title fight. It's an opportunity to regain a title."
An opportunity indeed. Because the only thing it seems Garcia can't beat these days is a scale.
Crawford impressive again
In the main undercard bout, lightweight prospect Terence Crawford knocked out Alejandro Sanabria at 17 seconds of the sixth round. The native of Omaha, Neb., floored Sanabria (34-2-1, 25 KOs) with a compact left hook and improved to 21-0 with 16 knockouts.
In his previous bout, Crawford won a unanimous decision over Breidis Prescott, who has fought such notable boxers as Amir Khan, Mike Alvarado, Miguel Vazquez and Richar Abril.
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