Garcia overpowers Easter to unify lightweight belts
LONDON, July 29, (AFP): Briton Dillian Whyte’s once unlikely dream of a tilt at a world heavyweight title after a violent and troubled childhood moved a step closer on Saturday with a unanimous points win over New Zealand’s former world champion Joseph Parker.
Whyte, who has been defeated just once in his professional career in 2015 by present champion Anthony Joshua, withstood a late rally from Parker to win with the judges scoring it 113-112, 115-110, 114-111.
The 30-year-old Jamaica-born Whyte, who was shot and stabbed in his youth, will hope to move on to a bout with either Joshua or American Deontay Wilder.
Parker, suffering his second successive defeat — he lost to Joshua in March and with it his WBO belt — faces a tough battle to get back into the world title mix.
Parker was gracious in defeat.
Parker went down in the second round and received a count, although it appeared it was due to a clash of heads rather than a punch from Whyte.
The Briton started to work his way into the bout from the fourth round, even if he swung some wild punches that met fresh air, as Parker tired.
By the sixth Whyte was landing more effectively and Parker looked spent.
Parker’s corner tried to rally their man telling him before he went out for the eighth that Whyte was exhausted and had achieved nothing in the preceding round.
Whyte quickly disabused Parker of that notion as he put him on the canvas with a left hook.
Parker needed a knockout to win and out of the blue he raised his game in the 11th and penultimate round landing several punches to the extent Whyte for the first time looked troubled.
Parker threw caution to the wind in the final round and put Whyte down with less than 30 seconds to go, the Briton clambering to his feet and just holding on.
There was a classic heavyweight encounter in the bout preceding the main event between unpredictable Briton Dereck Chisora and Cameroon-born Frenchman Carlos Takam, two fighters who have had their chance at world title glory.
Chisora remarkably got the win he desperately required after three losses in his last six bouts — including against Whyte.
Having looked outclassed early on, he came up with a cracking punch to put Takam down in the eighth. Although the 37-year-old got back up, Chisora sent him back to the canvas with his next punch.
The referee brought the curtain down in all likelihood on the loser’s hopes of another tilt at the world title but 34-year-old Zimbabwe-born Chisora said he could dream again.
Further down an impressive undercard Rio Olympic bronze medallist Joshua Buatsi eased to his seventh win since turning professional, making light work of Latvia’s Andrejs Pokumeiko, knocking him out in the first round of their light heavyweight bout.
The 25-year-old’s promoter Eddie Hearn predicts great things for Buatsi, who is managed by Joshua.
Meanwhile, American boxer Mikey Garcia unified the WBC and IBF lightweight titles late Saturday by overpowering Robert Easter in a 12-round battle of undefeated champions.
The 30-year-old Garcia retained his WBC title and grabbed Easter’s IBF belt with a unanimous decision victory at Staples Center arena in downtown Los Angeles.
Garcia seized control of the fight early, flooring American Easter in the third round with a left hook to the chin. It was just the second time in his career that Easter was knocked down.
Easter recovered from the knockdown but failed to mount a sustained attack outside of using his jab, and was almost knocked down again in the ninth round.
Garcia is now 5-0 with two knockouts since returning from a 30-month exile from the sport due a battle with promoter Top Rank.
The three judges scored it 118-109, 117-110 and 116-111 as Garcia improved to 39-0 overall after this fight, which marks a return to the lightweight division. He won a junior welterweight belt in February but had to vacate it to face Easter.
Garcia immediately threw down the gauntlet to Errol Spence saying in the ring that for his next fight he wants to move up to the welterweight division to fight for Spence’s IBF belt.
The 27-year-old Easter suffered the first loss of his career to drop to 21-1, with 14 KOs. He was making his fourth title defense of the vacant belt he won in 2016.
The lanky Easter, who had a 20 centimeter (eight inch) reach advantage, stuck to his game plan and hung in there to the final bell.