By Jake Donovan
Miguel Angel 'Mikey' Garcia expected a title fight when first agreeing to appear on this HBO-televised date. When that opportunity failed to present itself, he took his frustrations out on Jonathan Victor Barros, stopping him in eight rounds Saturday evening at Wynn Resort in Las Vegas.
The fight was as much about preserving future plans as it was remaining busy for Garcia. Original plans called for the unbeaten featherweight contender to face divisional best Orlando 'Siri' Salido, but the fight fell through when the defending titlist was injured during training camp.
Barros was brought in as a replacement, a tough contender who had never been stopped in 38 pro fights.
That changed in a big way on Saturday evening. The ending came a bit as a surprise given the nature of the fight, but only if you haven't been paying much attention to Garcia's career.
The fight was a typical Mikey Garcia affair, which is to say that much of it came at a measured pace. Garcia has developed a reputation as a notoriously slow starter, but goes against the grain in that he still banks rounds while revving up his offensive attack.
Barros was able to have his moments as a result, even enjoying success in rounds four and five while Garcia admittedly sought a mistake-free night.
"We knew the importance of the fight. We were taking our time," Garcia explained at night's end. "We have bigger plans in front of me. We decided to work in this fight and play it safe."
Garcia's idea of safe is a slow and steady attack, working his full arsenal while also wearing down Barros. The fight took a dramatic turn in the action department in round eight, when a left hook by Garcia slipped behind Barros' right hand and finding its way to his chin.
Barros hit the deck, not uncommon in his career as he was also dropped by Yuriorkis Gamboa and Celestino Caballero (first fight) in separate title fights. What was a new journal entry in his career were his actions which immediately followed.
The referee twice asked if Barros wanted to go on. On both occasions, the Argentinean indicated that he was done for the evening.
The official time was 2:24 of round eight.
Garcia improves to 30-0 (26KO) with the win, though in a fight that played out as a consolation prize for two title fights that never came to fruition.
Barros is stopped for the first time in his career as he falls to 34-4-1 (18KO).
Long before Salido would accept a fight only to suffer an injury, Garcia was lined up to face Celestino Caballero. That fight died at the negotiating table, though within the Caballero camp.
The Panamanian's adviser, Sampson Lewkowicz won the purse bid through his independent promotional company. However, things went sour when Caballero allowed members of his inner circle to whisper in his ear and hold out for a better deal than what the winning purse bid offered.
Garcia settled for a stay-busy fight, while his handlers worked to secure the November date with Salido. Both camps still remain interested in the fight, with Top Rank aiming for a potential Feb. '13 showdown.
"I hope we get the fight going," said Garcia, while Salido was seated at ringside as an interested observer. "Salido is a champion; he's the main champion in my division. He’s recognized by a lot of analysts as the best in the division. We hope to get a title shot with him soon."
Jake Donovan is the Managing Editor of Boxingscene.com. Follow Jake on Twitter: