There is no shame in losing to Mikey Garcia according to Robert Easter, especially in a world title bout.
Despite suffering his first professional loss to Garcia back on July 28, Easter believes he is still one of the best lightweights on the planet.
Easter, who is rated No. 3 by The Ring at 135 pounds, will attempt to prove his worth when he squares off against Rances Barthelemy Saturday night at The Chelsea inside The Cosmopolitan in Las Vegas.
The 12-round bout will headline a three-bout Showtime ‘World Championship Boxing’ telecast (10:00 p.m. ET/ 7:00 p.m. PT).
The 28-year-old Easter, who resides in Toledo, Ohio, lost his IBF world title to Garcia but will attempt to win a secondary WBA belt with a win on Saturday.
Easter (21-1, 14 knockouts) has still not watched the Garcia fight. Dropped in the Round 3, he did give a decent account of himself in the second half but was ultimately outgunned by the stronger and more accurate fighter.
The loss behind him now, Easter is focused solely on Barthelemy.
“I’m still the fighter that I was before the Garcia fight,” Easter told The Ring Wednesday evening. “I was very eager to get back in the ring after the loss. I’ve been perfecting my style and I don’t believe in shortcuts.”
Barthelemy (27-1, 14 KOs), who now resides in Miami, stayed busy on Dec. 22, stopping veteran Robert Frankel in the third round. The 32-year-old had not fought since losing a vacant WBA junior welterweight title match to power-puncher Kiryl Relikh on Mar. 10 of last year.
Easter is 5-foot-11, one inch taller than Barthelemy and expects to utilize his height Saturday night which has not been the case recently.
“I don’t know a lot about Rances other than he is Cuban and he is awkward,” said Easter. “I don’t like watching videos. I let my trainer do that. I just have to control the tempo.
“I took my first loss of my career like a man. I learned from it. I want to utilize my intangibles during the fight, which is why we worked consistently with a jab (during training camp). I’m tall and rangy, so I want to play off of that and be a more complete fighter; throwing and landing combinations from a distance.”
Vasiliy Lomachenko, who holds The Ring, WBO and WBA lightweight titles, is recognized as the best 135-pounder in boxing. The other top lightweights are simply jostling for position at the moment.
Mikey Garcia announced earlier this week that he plans to vacate the WBC title so the field is wide open. But Easter won’t be satisfied with just being one of the best, he is looking to challenge Lomachenko himself. Politics and network affiliation, however, are likely to get in the way of such a matchup.
“I want to fight the best,” confirmed Easter. “I know there are certain fights that are difficult to make, but I’m a fighter who hasn’t gotten the chance to showcase my skills to the boxing fans. I’m very eager to show what type of fighter I really am.”
Barthelemy should provide a significant test for Easter, who does not believe the long layoff will be an issue. In fact, Easter claims he returned to the gym a few weeks after the Garcia setback.
The pre-fight favorite is very confident of victory but, long-term, he is looking to unify the division.
“I trained for 12 rounds, but if I have Barthelemy hurt, I will go for the knockout,” Easter said. “I’m very eager to get in the ring Saturday and win. I want to show I can make any fight easier by fighting to my strengths against any tough opponent. I’m looking forward to showing what I perfected in the gym for this fight.”
Francisco A. Salazar has written for RingTV.com since October 2013. He can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at FSalazarBoxing
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The post Robert Easter Jr.: ‘I don’t know a lot about Rances Barthelemy, I just have to control the tempo’ appeared first on The Ring.