Last weekend in Las Vegas, Mikey Garcia knocked out Dejan Zlaticanin in three rounds, to claim the WBC lightweight title. It made him a three-division world champion.
Now this is the alphabet-soup era. being a “three-division world champion” does not mean anything like what it meant when Henry Armstrong or Alexis Arguello did it. But Garcia’s titles were all won in dominant fashion, against defending champions who stood at the very top of the divisional rankings.
Garcia earned the WBO featherweight belt by virtue of handling Orlando Salido, a tough and experienced veteran. Garcia knocked Salido down four times before winning via Round 8 Technical Decision. Salido would later reclaim the WBO title when Garcia vacated it to move to 130 pounds.
At super featherweight, Garcia knocked out Roman Martinez, again for a WBO belt. Martinez would also go on the regain the title he lost to Garcia, after Garcia was done with it.
Garcia was inactive for two-and-one-half years, from January 2014 until July 2016. His win over Zlaticanin was his second fight back since that break.
Zlaticanin was arguably the best fighter in the division heading into his defense against Garcia. He was undefeated, with wins over Ivan Redkach, Petr Petrov and Ricky Burns.
Mikey Garcia flattened him, stunning him and then knocking him out for several anxious minutes. Garcia was visibly concerned for Zlaticanin in the first moments after the fight ended and his brother and trainer, Robert, went to the vanquished champion’s corner once he was back on his feet, to help them get his gloves off more quickly.
With another dominant win like this one, it is reasonable to talk about Garcia as a top-10, pound-for-pound fighter. One big question coming into this bout was about how his power would carry with him, for another move up in weight. He answered that question by knocking out Zlaticanin in such brutal fashion.