The American Bank Center in Corpus Christi, Texas was the scene a big, action packed Saturday night fight card that saw Mikey Garcia take apart WBO super feather champ Rocky Martinez along with three other high profile contests.
After a feeling out first round, ex-WBO featherweight titlist Garcia was decked by a counter shot in the second frame, but it was more a matter of the 25 year old being off balance.
Martinez boxed at range in the early going, outworking the challenger but landing little of consequence. In contrast, Garcia was much more selective with his punches, waiting for good opportunities and then lashing out.
As a result, Garcia was far more accurate and heavy-handed, forcing Martinez to fight off his back foot. As the challenger cut the down the distance between the two fighters, Martinez was getting hit with increasingly regularity.
The champion tried to stem the tide with movement and the jab but was unable to prevent Garcia from getting closer and closer, landing eye-catching shots that were snapping back the head of Martinez.
By the middle rounds, Garcia was in firm control, punishing his Puerto Rican adversary with both hands. By the eighth, Martinez was in deep trouble, clearly hurt after fielding a brace of headshots but it was a spearing, full-blooded left hook to the body that put the champion on the floor where he was counted out at 0:56 of the round.
With one big step, Mikey Garcia, 33-0 (28), takes over the super featherweight division and should enjoy a very lucrative 2014 while the luck of Martinez, 27-2-2 (16), who won his previous three bouts by either split decision or split draw, finally runs out.
The vacant WBO light middleweight title was up for grabs on the undercard as undefeated contenders Vanes Martirosyan and Demetrius Andrade came to grips in an awkward struggle.
Andrade was aggressive from the start, pressuring the more experienced Martirosyan with wide, winging shots. This approach soon had Andrade on the seat of his pants in the very first round courtesy of a short Martirosyan counter shot but the Rhode Island man wasn't hurt and easily beat the count.
The fight continued with the more classically skilled Martirosyan looking for openings against the looser style of Andrade but make no mistake, this was an ugly contest, very difficult to score as many punches were thrown but not much landed.
Each man took turns controlling the bout as the rounds wore on with neither dominating the other. After the bell ended round 12, the scores were read with Andrade winning two of them, 114-113 and a puzzling 117-110, while Martirosyan won the third 115-112.
Andrade, 20-0 (13), wins the WBO title but will have a difficult time keeping it should he face top opposition unless he dramatically improves his defensive abilities. Martirosyan drops to 33-1-1 (21).
WBA featherweight champ Nicholas Walters, 23-0 (19), made his maiden defense a good one, stopping challenger Alberto Garza, 25-6-1 (20), at 1:57 of the fourth round. Walters, of Jamaica, fought most of career in obscurity in Panama, and must begin to face elite opposition if he is to become a known commodity at 126 pounds.
In a non-title rematch at featherweight, Nonito Donaire, 32-2 (21), proved his 2007 win over Vic Darchinyan, 39-6-1 (28), was no fluke, stopping the Australian at 2:06 of the ninth round.
This time around Darchinyan performed better than in the first bout but Donaire steadily whittled down the awkward, shorter man until striking in the ninth with speed and precision.