Ryan Garcia bounces back with eighth-round KO of Oscar Duarte

Everything is OK with Ryan Garcia in the ring.

The 140-pound contender looked a lot like the Garcia of old Saturday night at Toyota Center in Houston, where he knocked out Oscar Duarte late in the eighth round of a scheduled 12-rounder.

It was exactly the type of performance the social media star needed in light of recent events.

Let’s start with this past April, when he suffered the first loss of his career against Gervonta Davis. And it wasn’t pretty. “Tank” ended the fight with a single body shot.

He later moved on from trainer Joe Goossen and his hometown of Los Angeles, moving to Dallas to work with Derrick James.

Then came the latest episode in ongoing drama related to his promoter, Golden Boy Promotions, only two days before the fight. Garcia said at a news conference that his handlers were backing Duarte.

Bad loss. New trainer, Sour relationship with your promoter. Everyone wondered what Garcia would bring to the ring.

Well, he fought like the man who brutally knocked out Luke Campbell and Javier Fortuna in pre-Gervonta Davis fights to earn the respect of the boxing world.

Garcia (24-1, 20 KOs) used his impressive combination of stick-and-move boxing ability and punching power to control the fight against Duarte, a tough, hard-punching Mexican with limited skills.

“King Ry” used his jab as a range finder and followed with quick, mostly single power shots – including some nasty uppercuts – that often found the head of Duarte while continually moving around the ring, which generally frustrated the underdog.

Duarte had some success in Rounds 5 and 6, when Garcia became more stationery and got trapped against the ropes a few times. However, Garcia got back to moving in Round 7 and Duarte could get nothing done.

Duarte had demonstrated that he has a durable chin, taking many hard punches well leading into Round 8. However, a left hook to his temple with about 30 seconds remaining in the round finally hurt him.

Garcia followed with a flurry of punches that forced Duarte to take a knee, where he tried to recover. And while he popped up around 9.5 seconds into the 10 count, referee James Green stopped the fight.

“I have a killer instinct,” Garcia said afterward. “… It was pretty basic technically. I just step back, he reaches, I catch him with a counter left hook.”

And, he said, the victory was only his first step in a fresh start.

He expressed his gratitude to James, who obviously had his new fighter in good form for the fight. James also works with Jermell Charlo, Errol Spence Jr. and Anthony Joshua in Dallas.

“Shout out to Derrick James,” Garcia said. “We worked hard. This was our first fight together. We’ll build off of this and get better. I’m committed to becoming a world champion.”

Garcia is an attractive opponent for anyone because of his massive following, which generates a great deal of money.

And now, with an impressive victory under his belt and the setback against Davis farther in the past, he’s in a good position to face one of the top fighters in the deep junior welterweight division.

He called out Rolando Romero, the WBA titleholder. “If Rolly wants that, bring it on,” he said. “I know you’ve been talking a lot. Bring it on.”

However, he doesn’t want to look too far into the future.

“Yeah, let’s keep building and then go after Devin Haney and all the other dudes,” he said. “We got to take our steps, building with Derrick James – it was our first fight – and then go from there.”


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