NEW YORK -- Miguel Angel "Mikey" Garcia didn't get the knockout he had hoped for, but he kept dropping Orlando Salido -- four times in all -- until winning on a dominant eight-round technical decision to claim a featherweight title on Saturday night at the Theater at Madison Square Garden.
The best shot Salido landed? That was the head-butt that crashed into Garcia's nose in the eighth round.
"I had the perfect fight going on," Garcia said. "I was beating him up good, and then he drove his head into my face -- but it was accidental."
When the round ended, the ringside doctor examined Garcia and determined he was unable to continue. Referee Benjy Esteves called off the fight, sending it to the scorecards.
Garcia had a huge lead: 79-70, 79-69, 79-69. ESPN.com had Garcia ahead, 80-70.
"We went up to check him, and it is very broken," Dr. Robert Polofsky said of Garcia's nose. "It was too dangerous to have him to continue to fight like that, so we made the decision to stop the fight. He couldn't breathe."
The fight was expected to be a highly competitive action battle, but Garcia, 25, of Oxnard, Calif., took apart Mexico's Salido, 32, in surprisingly easy fashion before a near-sellout crowd of 4,850.
Salido (39-12-2, 27 KOs) was making his third title defense during a late-career surge that saw him go to Puerto Rico in 2011 and 2012 to score upset knockouts against Juan Manuel Lopez in all-action brawls. But Garcia (31-0, 26 KOs), a polished and poised operator built to win a title since he turned pro in 2006, totally controlled Salido.
"I trained for this," Garcia said. "That's why it looked so easy."
Said trainer Robert Garcia, Mikey's older brother and a former junior lightweight world titleholder: "He executed the game plan. Everything he did in the fight, it was all done in the gym. He did everything perfectly. We just told him, just keep your cool and stay with the game plan."
Garcia, a notoriously slow starter, had a huge first round, scoring two knockdowns. He landed a left-right combination to drop Salido, who didn't appear to be badly hurt.
Then, just before the end of the round, he landed a sharp left hook to knock Salido down again. This time Salido was buzzed, but the round ended before Garcia could throw another punch.
Salido was able to stay on his feet in the second round, but in the third round he was on the deck for knockdown No. 3 when Garcia landed a right uppercut midway through the round. Again, Salido didn't appear badly hurt, but his legs didn't look good.
Garcia scored his fourth knockdown of the fight early in the fourth round when Salido went down on the end of a left hand that didn't appear particularly hard.
"It was difficult to recover from the first knockdown," Salido said through a translator. "I was bothered by his speed and lateral movement. I adjusted to it later in the fight and started to do better, and then [the head-butt happened]."
Garcia continued to dominate Salido in the fifth round, landing several right hands, including two that nearly knocked him down again.
By the sixth round, Salido's right eye was beginning to swell, but he was hanging in there. He had some good moments in the seventh round -- which he won on two scorecards -- but whenever he would land something solid, Garcia would answer back. Garcia said he never took Salido for granted, even after opening such an enormous lead because of the knockdowns.
"I've seen Salido many times before. I've seen him get dropped and keep the same determination and will to win," Garcia said. "I know the kind of guy he is. He gets up and keeps coming back."
Then, the fight was suddenly over after the eighth.
"I never felt it was a head-butt hard enough to do that damage," Salido said.
Garcia is a stoic sort and didn't even seem all that excited to have won the title (and earn a career-high $220,000 purse).
"Maybe if we completed the fight, I would have been happier than [with] a technical decision," he said. "Then maybe you'd have seen a little more out of me."
Robert Garcia seemed happier than his brother.
"He is my little brother, but I love all my fighters," said Robert Garcia, who also trains Nonito Donaire and Brandon Rios. "I get emotional for all of them."
Mikey Garcia was disappointed that the fight was stopped.
"It's not as good of a feeling as I would have had if we went the distance and we finished," he said. "It was accidental. I told him, if he wants the rematch, 'I will give you the opportunity, like you gave me.' It was accidental, he didn't intend for it to happen like this.
"I fought with a broken thumb once. It's hard for me to breathe a little bit, so the doctor and referee came to look. If I could breathe a little better, I could have fought the entire fight."
To Garcia, it was just another day at the office.
"It felt like another job, like another fight," he said. "I was doing everything perfectly fine. We had a game plan, we executed it."