While it was not loaded with some of the biggest names in boxing, the weekend of Feb. 28-March 1 saw a number of excellent showdowns take place.
Mikey Garcia (40-1, 30 KOs) got off to a sluggish start in his first appearance since he experienced his first professional defeat, but the Californian found his groove and beat up the durable and dangerous Jessie Vargas. Their match headlined an event on Saturday in Frisco, Texas. Vargas (29-3-2, 11 KOs) was the bigger man and enjoyed some early success, but his good fortune ultimately faded.
Garcia found his rhythm, began peppering his opponent and nearly knocked out Vargas in the fifth round. A sharp combination punctuated by a blistering right to the jaw sent Vargas to the canvas, and though the Los Angeles native beat the count, he was never the same. After being awarded a unanimous decision, Garcia indicated his preference for a rematch with Errol Spence Jr. or an opportunity to face the great Manny Pacquiao.
The co-feature saw former four-division champion and future hall of famer Roman “Chocolatito” Gonzalez systematically break down Khalid Yafai on his way to a stoppage. Gonzalez (49-2, 41 KOs) overwhelmed the Yemen native from the start and wore him down with incredible output. “Chocolatito” dropped Yafai (26-1, 15 KOs) late in the eighth round and finished him with a crushing right to the jaw 29 seconds into the ninth, the victory bringing with it the WBA super flyweight title.
In other action, Julio Cesar Martinez (16-1, 12 KOs) bested Jay Harris (17-1, 9 KOs) via unanimous decision to retain his WBC flyweight crown; and former WBO heavyweight titlist Joseph Parker (27-2, 21 KOs) stopped Shawndell Winters (13-2, 12 KOs) in the fifth round.
Meanwhile, Keith Hunter (12-0, 7 KOs) toppled Sanjarbek Rakhmanov (12-3-1, 6 KOs) via 10-round unanimous decision in the ShoBox main event on Friday in Las Vegas.
Finally, the WBC created a Los Angeles Lakers-colored championship belt to give to the family of the late Kobe Bryant—the NBA icon who was killed in a helicopter crash in January.