=== Stunning stoppage makes trio a quartet ===
By Lyle Fitzsimmons, Contributing Boxing Editor
(Sports Network) - Move over Iran Barkley. Step aside George Foreman.
And you, Antonio Tarver, please make room for another passenger.
When the looping left hand that departed North Philadelphia finally crash-
landed on the Vegas strip within minutes of midnight Saturday, Danny Garcia
officially made their trio a quartet.
And while he was at it, he unceremoniously linked Amir Khan with Thomas
Hearns, Michael Moorer and Roy Jones Jr. as well.
In the 35 years since my first TV fight - Ken Norton vs. Duane Bobick in May
1977 - there had been three high-profile endings that, to me, stood head and
shoulders above all others in shock value.
All three had elements that went beyond a simply jarring upset.
Fights like these are different than the garden variety surprise - like
Douglas-Tyson, for one - in which an undervalued underdog shows from the
opening bell that he's better than advertised.
Rather, in these cases, a significant favorite begins a fight in particularly
dominant fashion and looks primed for a career-enhancing win, only to have the
momentum blunted by one paradigm-shifting shot.
First on the list comes a Saturday night that I still remember crystal clear,
even 24 years later.
Then 29, Hearns was "only" risking the WBC middleweight belt on June 6, 1988,
but - in the absence of past tormentors Ray Leonard and Marvin Hagler - he had
won five straight fights in three divisions and finally appeared primed to
reach lofty heights the notable big-fight flameouts had obscured.
The pound-for-pound stratosphere was waiting.
And through 2 1/2 gruesome rounds against Barkley, the Bronx-based tough guy
had been cut, wobbled and repeatedly doubled over from wicked left hands to
the body, prompting many to expect that a humane intervention from referee
Richard Steele might be imminent.
Instead, after a right hand straight out of the South Bronx and a brief
follow-up flurry that viciously drove its point home ... history changed in a
way that still makes a die-hard "Hitman" fan cringe.
Shock No. 2 was again in Vegas six years later, when an unbeaten Moorer -
who'd taken down Evander Holyfield one fight prior - was defending his WBA and
IBF heavyweight shares and seeking a place at the grown-up table with the
register-ringing Lewises and Tysons of the world.
And on that November night, based on the ease with which he was punishing a
lumbering 45-year-old novelty who'd lost to the likes of Tommy Morrison 17
months earlier, it seemed an audience with those headline acts was merely nine
trouble-free minutes away.
Until, that is, "Big George" landed two of the most unlikely right hands of
any era, leaving the two-belt claimant in a bloody-nosed, glassy-eyed heap
under the MGM Grand lights.
Fast-forward 10 seconds to an impeccable "It happened" call from Jim Lampley
on the HBO broadcast and the "Double M" era was stunningly complete before it
The last entry on the pre-Garcia rundown was eight years ago this past May -
back when Obama was still a candidate, Favre was still a Packer and
Pensacola's Jones was still among those mentioned when it came to modern-day
entrants on any list of all-time greats.
All "Superman" had done in the run-up to his second go-round with Tarver was
earn top billing in three classes, administer a heavyweight boxing lesson to a
foe 33 pounds larger and drop back to 175 to out-tough his fellow Floridian
down the stretch of an initial match six months earlier.
He shook off Tarver's return bout trash talk to control matters in the opening
three minutes, and gave no indication through the first third of round two
that anything significant would be changing.
Of course, neither he nor Tarver - whose eyes were clearly closed at its
launch - could have imagined what a lasting impact the "Magic Man's" enormous
left hand would have on Jones' legacy.
Now a huge departure from the phenomenon he'd been, Jones has displayed little
in 13 subsequent fights - six of them losses - than a decided aversion for
combat, all traceable to the moment he was no longer athletic enough to let
athleticism be his primary strength.
Even after seeing the replay for what feels like the 10,000th time, I still
Asked for their input via Twitter, a handful of fans, friends and colleagues
chimed in with their jaw-droppers of the recent and distant past.
Ring Magazine's Douglass Fischer suggested heavyweight Lamon Brewster's WBO
title-winning TKO of Wladimir Klitschko in 2004, saying "I was so excited when
Brew turned it around I was glad to be home. Not sure I could have held back
joy on press row."
MaxBoxing.com's Gabriel Montoya went a decade further back to present Jorge
Castro's WBA middleweight title defense over John David Jackson, in which the
Argentine had won exactly one round across three cards before halting his
challenger at 2:34 of the ninth.
"That was a classic sudden turnaround," he said. "JDJ was killing Castro 'til
he ran into that big hook."
Others offered the following:
Jermain Taylor vs. Kelly Pavlik I in 2007, when Taylor had his man seconds
away from a stoppage in round two before the challenger rallied for a brutal
KO in the seventh.
Junior Jones vs. Kennedy McKinney in 1997, when Jones scored a knockdown and
established a big lead through three rounds before being stopped in the
Frank Bruno vs. James Smith in 1984, when the unbeaten Brit was moments away
from a decision win when "Bonecrusher" ended matters in the 10th.
And all the way back to John Tate vs. Mike Weaver in 1980, when the WBA champ
led on all cards before going down face-first from a heavyweight left hook
with 45 seconds to go in the 15th.
This week's title-fight schedule:
WBO junior lightweight title - Cincinnati, Ohio
Adrien Broner (champion) vs. Vicente Escobedo (No. 1 contender)
Broner (23-0, 19 KO): Second title defense; Nine KOs in 10 Cincinnati fights
(10-0, 9 KO)
Escobedo (26-3, 15 KO): First title fight; Unbeaten since 2010 (4-0, 1 KO)
Fitzbitz says: "The elite-level jury is still out on the latest HBO sensation,
but he should have more than enough to keep the momentum going against an
unspectacular foe." Broner by decision
NOTE: Fights previewed are only those involving a sanctioning body's full-
fledged title-holder - no interim, diamond, silver, etc. For example, fights
for WBA "world championships" are only included if no "super champion" exists
in the weight class.
Last week's picks: 1-1
Overall picks record: 412-141 (74.5 percent)
Lyle Fitzsimmons is a veteran sports columnist who's written professionally
since 1988 and covered boxing since 1995. His work is published in print and
posted online for clients in North America and Europe. Reach him at
firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter: @fitzbitz.
07/18 22:14:58 ET