By Keith Idec
Robert Easter Jr. didn’t make any excuses.
The former IBF lightweight champion instead took the first professional loss of his career like an adult. He accepted sole responsibility for his 12-round, unanimous-decision defeat to Mikey Garcia in their lightweight title unification fight July 28 at Staples Center in Los Angeles.
“I really don’t have no excuse,” Easter told BoxingScene.com. “He was the better man that night.”
Easter expects to be the better man Saturday night, when he is scheduled to encounter Cuba’s Rances Barthelemy in a 12-round, 135-pound title fight. Showtime will air the bout between Easter (21-1, 14 KOs), of Toledo, Ohio, and Barthelemy (27-1, 14 KOs), a Las Vegas resident, as the main event of a tripleheader from The Chelsea inside The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas.
The winner will take home the WBA’s “world” lightweight title and presumably move into position to eventually face the WBA’s “super” lightweight champ, Vasiliy Lomachenko (13-1, 10 KOs).
Easter would like to fight Lomachenko if he beats Barthelemy, but he thinks the WBA would need to mandate that bout to make Lomachenko take it. If the 28-year-old Easter can’t land a fight against Lomachenko, he gladly would move up to 140 pounds for a rematch with Garcia.
The 31-year-old Garcia (39-1, 30 KOs) gave up the WBC lightweight title earlier this week, so that he can return to the junior welterweight division in which he won the IBF belt last year.
“I wanna avenge that loss,” Easter said. “I doubt it if Mikey will fight me at 135 again, so that would probably be in the future sometime, at a different weight class.”
Easter is solely focused this week on bouncing back against Barthelemy.
“I’m just really excited to get back in the ring, to give my fans a tremendous show,” Easter said. “I wanna show ‘em that I never back down from nothing, that I’m still here, fighting, training my hardest for every fight. I just wanna put on a great show.”
Showtime’s tripleheader Saturday night also will include a 12-round, WBC super lightweight elimination match between Ukraine’s Viktor Postol (30-2, 12 KOs) and France’s Mohamed Mimoune (21-2, 2 KOs). The third portion of this three-bout broadcast is a 10-round heavyweight match that’ll pit Nigeria’s Efe Ajagba (9-0, 8 KOs) against Germany’s Michael Wallisch (19-1, 12 KOs).
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.