The main attraction of Carl Frampton vs Leo Santa Cruz is set to light up Las Vegas, but the co-feature packs a punch too, with all the ingredients necessary for a main course.
Two highly rated, unbeaten fighters come head-to-head in a bout which pits differing styles and reputations against one another.
The champion is WBC Lightweight ruler Dejan Zlaticanin 22-0(15KO’s), a Montenegrin with knockout power that doesn’t necessarily fit his 5’4” frame.
In the other corner is the challenger, a former two weight world champion, Mikey Garcia 35-0(29KO’s).
The younger man with the greater experience and knockout percentage.
But in spite of his vast amount of knockouts, Garcia is the boxer out of the two, while Zlaticanin is the puncher.
Garcia breaks opponents down from the outside, breaking their will as they consistently set themselves up for counters.
Dejan wastes no time, pouncing from a crouching stance with haymakers.
But his lightning quick feet and constant upper body
movement, make him a target almost impossible to keep in check.
Then you have the reputations. Zlaticanin is still going under the radar.
No one took much notice of his extremely impressive win over Petr Petrov when he stepped in and “stunned” Ricky Burns.
And Ivan Redkach’s team obviously saw Dejan as a far easier opponent to deal with than he once again proved, demolishing Ivan’s unbeaten ledger in 4 rounds.
His reputation left him in the “who needs him” club, which is what brought Jorge Linares to be stripped of his title after his WBC defence against his mandatory never came to fruition.
Franklin Mamani was the unfortunate culprit in Dejan’s only fight of 2016, losing his title bid in 3 rounds.
The initial backing of Top Rank helped Garcia along a simpler path to world glory.
His reputation was flourishing by the time he beat Orlando Salido on a
technical decision – and performances thereafter seemed to have
erased the criticism he took for ostensibly not wanting to continue
with a broken nose caused by a head clash against Salido.
(Mikey Garcia’s return to form – hat tip and credit: Showtime YouTube)
Then weight issues – unsurprising that Garcia would struggle at both Featherweight and Super Featherweight given his huge frame – and contractual problems led to very little activity through 2014-2016.
Only three contest occurred in the 3-year period, but a stoppage at Lightweight last July highlighted that none of the excellence had gone during the dormancy.
This has the makings of a quite brilliant contest – albeit it may need to go some to claim even fight of the weekend with the main event and Francisco Vargas vs Miguel Berchelt further West in California.
Mikey Garcia vs Dejan Zlaticanin Prediction
The question that lingers over this fight – and one that when answered should determine the winner – is whether Garcia can keep Zlaticanin at bay for the entire 12 rounds, considering he hasn’t really fought anyone with the explosive speed and power that the champion brings.
If Zlaticanin lands heavy artillery early, then Garcia could find himself in the sort of waters that he will not be able to swim out of.
And should Dejan’s stamina hold up he could eventually force Garcia to wilt under the endless presence of his opponent.
But for all Zlaticanin’s aggression, in Garcia he is facing his most
And the size advantage, mixed with the accuracy,
will hold Zlaticanin in check – for the most part – and tire the
champion out before Garcia even comes close to hitting the brick
Dejan will prove hard to catch, but attacks to the body – by way of jabs mostly – will soften him up for easier assaults to the head.
Garcia will pick his moments, dropping the jab under the southpaw left hand of Zlaticanin as he cocks it back, firing a curving right hand when Dejan fires out a jab or slipping to the right to sneak home a jab through the middle.
Behind on the cards, Zlaticanin will begin to tire, losing further ground as the fight heads into the final third.
Garcia could step on the gas, but would risk being caught, however that Mexican side to his heritage will likely take over as he looks to claim his third world title in style.
Mikey Garcia vs Dejan Zlaticanin Prediction
Given his tough road to get here, Dejan will not go down quietly but will ultimately fail to keep his title in Las Vegas, losing by wide margins on all three scorecards.