NEW YORK -- After an exciting doubleheader at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, here are five things we learned from Saturday's Premier Boxing Champions card on ESPN.
1. Garcia looks comfortable at 147 pounds
Junior welterweight champion Danny "Swift" Garcia turned in a successful debut as a full-fledged welterweight, stopping Paulie Malignaggi in Round 9 by relying on his advantages as the bigger, younger and stronger fighter. Garcia (31-0, 18 KOs), 27, stayed patient throughout and routinely walked down Malignaggi, stalking him with clean right hands. Not only did Garcia find consistent success landing flush upstairs -- cutting Malignaggi over the right eye in Round 3 and below it in Round 6 -- his right hands to the body left "The Magic Man" bright red and bruised on his left side. No longer having trouble cutting down to 140 pounds, Garcia looked filled out and more muscular as a welterweight
2. Yet DSG remains hard to accurately label
Garcia -- often a lightning rod for controversy, due in part to his getting the benefit of the doubt on the scorecards in two of his past three fights -- left the feeling he could have done more. Rarely does an unbeaten fighter float so fluidly between labels of overrated and underrated as Garcia, who essentially did what was expected of him on Saturday by dominating in one-sided fashion. But Garcia also rarely used his jab and was more plodding than aggressively dominant, leaving questions about how he would fare against the upper elite at 147. Malignaggi, at his best, presents the kind of style that could have exposed Garcia, who at times has faded late and has proven trouble with quick-footed boxers who rely on their jab. But Malignaggi, 34, clearly wasn't at his best on this night and considering his lack of power, he offered little resistance for Garcia to trap him and possibly take him out earlier had he thrown more punches. Garcia did enough to win on Saturday, but never gambled for more.
3. Malignaggi has nothing more to prove
With a successful second career in full bloom as one of the sport's best commentators, there wouldn't be a better time than now for Malignaggi (33-7, 7 KOs) to walk away. Despite brittle hands that robbed him of any pop, the flashy and slick boxer won titles in two weight classes and never backed down from a fight. He was flashy and confident, but also an overachiever. And despite a history of showcasing heart when overmatched against the elite, referee Arthur Mercante Jr's stoppage on Saturday in Round 9 was fair and just. Malignaggi, who snapped a 15-month layoff, hinted after the loss that he was probably done, yet didn't want to commit to an emotional decision. Malignagg has nothing left to prove after an honest and entertaining 14-year career.
4. Jacobs passes test despite small sample size
In a fight designed to teach us more about where secondary titlist Daniel Jacobs (30-1, 27 KOs) belongs in the hierarchy of the middleweight division, one could argue the results were inconclusive after former junior middleweight titlist Sergio Mora was forced to retire late in Round 2 with ankle and knee injuries to his right leg. Yet, Jacobs was able to prove his mettle despite the small sample size, getting up off the canvas during a surprisingly wild first round, and scoring two knockdowns of his own by walking Mora down with hard, accurate shots. "The Miracle Man" also clearly held the upper hand at the time of the stoppage. The only thing Jacobs, who hasn't seen a fight go the distance since 2009, has lacked during his three-year comeback from defeating a rare form of bone cancer is victories over credible names. While he hasn't quite yet proven himself elite, Jacobs remains an intriguing player in the division due to his athleticism and well-rounded skillset. At the very least, Saturday was a step forward in the right direction. A long-anticipated showdown with fellow New Yorker and former middleweight titlist Peter Quillin would be a great litmus test toward us finding out just how good Jacobs can be.
5. Despite uncertain future, Mora made most of opportunity
Mora, who has spent the majority of his professional career successfully proving he is more than a reality show champion, knew his limitations entering Saturday's bout. His often irritating, technical style hasn't always won over judges and fans and likely wouldn't in his opponent's backyard. So the light-hitting slickster backed up his prefight words by avoiding a chess match early on in an attempt to win Jacobs' respect (and by scoring a first-round knockdown he did just that). Ultimately, Mora endured a hard-luck early exit due to injury just as Jacobs was coming on strong, leaving his future at 34 on uncertain terms. At the very least, Mora (28-4-2, 9 KOs), who endured a long journey back to a title shot, came to win and left nothing to chance, doing his part to create a fun fight while it lasted.