INDIO, Ca.-Crowds gathered hours before the sold out event opened its doors and then saw Ryan Garcia unload a lethal left hook to end the fight in less than three minutes against Mexico’s Fernando Vargas on Thursday.
Fans erupted in cheers.
Teenage sensation Garcia (14-0, 13 KOs) continued the knockout streak and repelled challenger Vargas’ (33-16-3, 24 KOs) attempt to wrest the Junior NABF super featherweight title from the lean Victorville slugger.
It was Garcia’s first main event for Golden Boy Promotions and was televised by ESPN2.
It was less than two years ago that Garcia turned professional in Mexico at age 17. He was signed by Golden Boy near the end of 2016 after turning 18 and skyrocketed up the prospect ladder like few others.
On Thursday, before more than 1,500 fans at Fantasy Spring Casino, Garcia looked a little frozen as the first bell rang and the fight commenced. His partner on this night, Vargas, a muscular fighter out of Tijuana, had already tasted main event status and had actually fought for a world title.
“I was a little nervous,” said Garcia.
After some brief exchanges and attempts with snapping left hooks, Vargas attempted to land a right and Garcia fired a right and followed with a quick left hook that floored the Mexican fighter in a heap. Referee Jerry Cantu did not bother to count as the fight was stopped at 2:55 of the first round.
Fans erupted and gathered as close as the security guards would allow. It seems another status was reached by Garcia as hundreds of fans sought to get selfies with the lean Latino fighter from the High Desert area.
Lately, other fighters and boxing followers have taken to social media to deride the fast-rising super featherweight.
“People can say what they want,” Garcia said. “I don’t care what they say. I’m where I want to be.”
Garcia happens to be at the top of the class.
A battle between welterweight contenders saw New York City’s Eddie Gomez (21-3, 12 KOs) catch Las Vegas fighter Keandre Gibson (18-2-1, 7 KOs) with a short right cross that dropped him with a thud. Gibson got up but referee Tony Crebs stopped the fight at 54 seconds of the second round.
Ireland’s Aaron McKenna (2-0, 1 KO) made quick work of Mexico’s Jose Palacios (1-2, 1 KO) with a first round knockout at 2:46. McKenna floored Palacios early with a right cross but the Mexican fighter was able to continue. The two welterweights exchanged freely until McKenna unleashed three uppercuts and Palacios went down again and complained of shots behind the head. Instead of resuming the fight Palacios continued to complain and the fight was stopped by referee Eddie Hernandez.
Joet Gonzalez (19-0, 11 KOs) took his time against dangerous punching Rolando Magbanua (28-7, 20 KOs) in a featherweight showdown. He slowly picked apart the Filipino fighter’s defense and ended the fight in the fifth round with a pretty right cross-left hook combination. It was a solid boxing performance by Gonzalez.
Mexico’s Raul Curiel (3-0, 2 KOs) floored Quantavious Green (1-2, 1 KO) twice with body shots and the super welterweight fight was stopped at 1:29 by referee Eddie Hernandez. Curiel is a former Mexican Olympian managed by Frank Espinoza.
A perfectly timed right cross by Eugene Lagos (13-5-2, 8 KOs) caught Emilio Sanchez (16-1, 11 KOs) walking into the punch for a second round knockout in a super bantamweight showdown. Referee Tony Crebs did not bother to count as the end came at 35 seconds into round two. Lagos fights out of the Philippines and Sanchez fights out of Pacoima, Calif.
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Photo Credit: Tom Hogan – Hoganphotos/Golden Boy Promotions