Spanish southpaw Sandor Martin produced a huge upset as he earned a surprise, majority decision win over four-weight world champion Mikey Garcia at the Chukchansi Park in Fresno, California, on Saturday night.
Garcia had been targeting significant fights against the likes of Regis Prograis and Josh Taylor but after a 20-month absence the ring rust was evident, and European super-lightweight champion Martin took full advantage in this 145lbs catchweight encounter.
The cultured Martin handily outboxed Garcia, earning two 97-93 nods from the judges overruling a solitary 95-95 card.
“It’s the biggest moment of my career,” Martin told DAZN’s Chris Mannix afterwards. “I said all along that I was going to do it and I did it.”
The slick Spaniard’s movement and adroit counter-punching proved too much for a leaden Garcia. The lights temporarily went out in the stadium before the second round and, when normal service resumed, Garcia was unable to establish a meaningful rhythm.
Martin (39-2, 13 KOs) fought with his back to the ropes and had a cut over his right eye in the fifth, but was undaunted by the offensive sorties of his more accomplished opponent. The underdog boxed well off the back foot with Garcia locked in a fruitless pursuit.
The Spaniard’s belief grew in the closing stages as he stunned Garcia with a straight left in the eighth and an unlikely outcome seemed on the cards. His mobility continued to confound a one-paced Garcia. Martin closed the stronger in the final round to score one of the most improbable victories of recent times.
Afterwards, Garcia paid credit to the victor, but still felt he had done enough. “He fought a very good fight with his boxing,” Garcia (40-2, 30 KOs) told DAZN. “I thought I did what was necessary to close the gap, apply pressure and look for a fight. He was the one moving around the ring a lot. He was looking to counter a few times but I was the one actually looking for a fight. I thought I was ahead on the three cards. It is what it is. That’s why there’s three judges. They decided he was the one winning the fight.
“He didn’t beat me up, I’m not bruised up or anything. It was a competitive fight, I thought I was winning the fight in a close matchup but the judges saw it the other way around. I knew he was a very good boxer. That’s why I kept coming forward, but I knew I couldn’t be reckless either. I still thought I did enough to win. He kept moving around the ring. The judges this time thought he was in control. I thought I was in control.”
On the undercard, Puerto Rican southpaw Jonathan Gonzalez (25-3-1, 14 KOs & 1 NC) won a split decision over Mexican title holder Elwin Soto (19-2, 13 KOs) to seize the WBO light-flyweight crown. Scores were 116-112 (twice), trumping a 116-112 vote for Soto. The slick Gonzalez outfoxed and outboxed the Mexican whose aggression was not enough to change the narrative.
Leading light-flyweight contender Jesse Rodriguez (14-0, 10 KOs) scored a fourth-round win over Mexican Jose Alejandro Burgos (18-5-1, 15 KOs) dropping his foe twice as the Texan southpaw builds to an inevitable world title shot.
Meanwhile, California’s rising super-middleweight hope Diego Pacheco (13-0, 10 KOs) registered an eighth-round knockout of the previously unbeaten Lucas de Abreu (12-1, 11 KOs).
Main image: Ed Mulholland/Matchroom Boxing.