Garcia emerged as one of the sport’s hottest young stars in 2013, when he won the WBC 140-pound belt from Erik Morales, then unified it with the WBA strap after stopping Amir Khan in five rounds. In 2013, he turned back the red hot Lucas Matthysse on the undercard of Floyd Mayweather vs. Saul Alvarez.
Since then, Garcia’s stock has dipped, even as he has remained unbeaten. He was lucky to return from Puerto Rico still champion in March 2014, as he received a hotly contested majority decision victory over Mauricio Herrera. He knocked out unrated Rod Salka in August 2014 in an embarrassing mismatch that Showtime should have refused to broadcast.
Eariler this year, Garcia got the nod in another very close decision over Lamont Peterson. I had Peterson winning the fight.
Beating Malignaggi gives Garcia a successful debut at welterweight, but I’m not sure how much credit he deserves for the win. At 34, Malignaggi is a well-traveled veteran, and even in his prime, he has always come up short against top-tier fighters like Miguel Cotto and Amir Khan. Prior to Saturday night, he had not been active in over a year, since being crushed by Shawn Porter in four rounds in April 2014.
Malignaggi looked slow and awkward against Garcia. With just seven careeer KOs in 40 fights, Malignaggi has always relied on quickness and skill to win fights. With those qualities in short supply for him against the 27-year-old Garcia, he was essentially a defenseless fighter. Malignaggi already has a nice career started as a broadcaster. Let’s hope it becomes his sole focus moving forward.
This was an important win for Garcia. It leaves him unbeaten and he’ll parlay it into another headline slot on a future Al Haymon PBC card. I’d like to see him fight a rematch with his former light welterweight opponent, Khan, who is undefeated at welterweight. Shawn Porter or Keith Thurman could both be options.