Few boxing experts outside of Spain were familiar with Sandor Martin before he was selected as Mikey Garcia’s return opponent. Those who knew him gave him little or no chance of what he was able to accomplish on Saturday night. Spaniard Martin pulled off an unlikely surprise, beating Garcia en route to a ten-round majority decision victory. Judge Zachary Young scored the contest 95-95 even, annulled by judges Fernando Villareal (97-93) and Carla Caiz (97-93), who ruled in favor of Martin in their DAZN main event Saturday night from Chukchansi Park in Fresno, California.
Garcia, a champion in four separate weight divisions, had not fought since a twelve-round decision victory over Jessie Vargas last February. The rust on the ring was evident, as the 33-year-old from Oxnard, California was never really able to set a rhythm, while Martin delivered consistent movement and superior kickback.
A slow opening round was met with drama when the lights went out in the stadium at the start of the second round. Power was quickly restored, though with little offense from either fighter. Martín caught Garcia’s attention with a checkered right hook late in the round, as Garcia continued to struggle to find his rhythm.
Garcia picked up the pace in the last minute of the fifth round, prompting a surge in the crowd. Martin spent most of the frame kicking his jab and fighting with his back to the ropes, allowing Garcia to work his way inside and connect with his right hand in a looping fashion.
Martin was forced to deal with a cut to his right eye, although the wound did not seem to bother him. Garcia was hoping to build on the momentum of the fifth round, only to spend most of the sixth round following the Spaniard around the ring. Martin was effective at back-foot boxing, staying out of Garcia’s effective hitting range and landing twice with counter right hooks after avoiding straight right hands.
Rounds seven and eight saw Martin gain more confidence in his offense. Garcia continued to advance, but did not follow up with anything substantial. Martín took the lead on several occasions, although he showed sportsmanship by allowing Garcia to recover from a stumble when his feet got tangled.
Martin enjoyed his best sequence of the fight late in the eighth round, landing a straight left hand that froze Garcia in its tracks. The flow of the fight left the crowd stunned into silence after passionately supporting Garcia throughout the night up to that point. Garcia enjoyed a more active ninth round after landing just three of the 25 punches in the previous frame. Martín continued to prove himself a moving target, with Garcia able to time his light-footed opponent with his right hand.
Martín offered consistent lateral movement in the 10th and final round, while Garcia showed a greater sense of urgency than in previous rounds. Garcia held Martin against the ropes long enough to fire a flurry of shots upstairs. Martin was able to block most of the innings, though he didn’t offer much offense in return. Martín continued to move around the ring, circling to Garcia’s right until he was pinned down in a corner where he voluntarily swapped with Garcia until the bell rang.
Martin improves to 39-2 (13KOs), earning by far the biggest win of his career. Garcia falls to 40-2 (30KOs), with both career losses in the span of his last three fights.