LAS VEGAS, Nevada, November 2, 2019 – Ryan Garcia couldn’t have made promoter Oscar De La Hoya happier if he tried on Saturday, delivering an impressive first-round knockout win over Romero Duno of the Philippines (21-2, 16 KOs). Garcia 19-0, 16 KOs) remains undefeated and is now the WBC Silver and NABO Lightweight champion.
“I feel good, it’s kind of what I expected,” said Garcia. “All respect to Duno, he came in shape. But when I took his best shot and took it, I thought, ‘OK I got it.’ I know he’s got a big overhand right that puts people to sleep, but when I took it, I knew I had it.”
Golden Boy Boxing promoter and former champion Oscar De La Hoya jumped into the ring to celebrate along with Garcia, wearing a broad smile and looking nearly happy enough to cry after signing Garcia to a long term contract following a summer of simmering conflict. Nothing resolves a dispute in boxing like a big win.
There was no feeling out between Garcia and Duno. Duno came out of his corner straight at Garcia, and he didn’t hesitate to engage. “He came at me like a bull. I thought, oh shoot!” said Garcia.
Garcia: ‘Once you hit the temple, it’s over’
Garcia said once realized Duno was not hurting him, he came back with “that little left hook,” but Duno kept coming. It was only seconds later when Garcia landed the knockout punch, a 45 degree right to Duno’s temple. He froze, then fell. Referee Tony Weeks immediately waved off the fight without a count at 1:38 or the round.
“Once you hit the temple, it’s over,” said Garcia. “There are three places to knock someone out: on the temple, behind the ear, and on the chin.”
Garcia said he is still just learning his overall skills including his footwork and speed from trainers Eddy and Chepo Reynoso, training in the same gym with Canelo Alvarez in San Diego. “With Canelo there, it’s an honor. I just watch him spar.”
Garcia’s win turned back the clock to his early victories by the flashy knockouts he became known for. But Duno was tailor-made for Garcia’s style. Duno’s power was no threat, and when Garcia figured that out, he could use his height and reach to target Duno without much pushback.
Another young and talented fighter, Devin Haney, has aimed his ambitions at Garcia. But Garcia delivered an honest assessment of his career progression. “I just want better competition, a step up. I’m only 21, a lot of people forget that. I’m moving at my pace. When my team thinks I’m prepared, I’ll listen to my team.” With a shout of “Viva Mexico!” Garcia left his many fans at the MGM Grand Garden Arena happy.
Ladies night: Seniesa Estrada deals ninth-round TKO to Marlen Esparza
Flyweights Seniesa “Superbad” Estrada of Los Angeles and Marlen Esparza of Houston fired up the MGM Grand Garden Arena crowd with their all-action fight from the opening bell. Making the most of the three-minute rounds, the pair delivered nine solid rounds of action, with Estrada (18-0, 8 KOs) winning a unanimous decision after Esparza (7-1, 1 KO) could not continue due to a severe cut on the forehead. The fight was scored over nine complete rounds, 90-81 89-82, and 88-83. for the winner. Estrada is now the interim WBA women’s flyweight champion.
“I feel grateful,” said Estrada of her win. “Headbutt or not, I whipped her ass every round.” The win extends Estrada’s stoppage streak to six fights.
A disappointed Esparza saw it far differently. “I could have stopped after the 3rd round, 4th round, whenever it happened, but it was really hard to deal with, it was really hard to see.
” I didn’t think I was losing that many rounds at all though … I continued fighting but I had to stop because I couldn’t see. I think it was a poor decision. Some of the rounds she did win, but it wasn’t like that. I couldn’t see.” said Esparza.
Whether you were Team Marlen or Team Superbad, there was a lot to like. Estrada’s punch selection, power, and accuracy are greatly improved over the last 18 months. Esparza showed early respect for Estrada’s body punches, using her speed to dart in, land, and dart out. Estrada kept the action coming, and by the third round, the two were close enough to start engaging with serious intentions.
In the fifth round, Estrada started to take control with her power shots. She landed excellent left hooks, but Esparza stayed with it, still looking for ways to derail Estrada. Esparza was starting to show the effects of being battered and bullied by the East Los Angeles native. Midway through the round, Esparza began bleeding from a severe cut at the hairline in the center of her forehead due to an unintentional clash of heads.
While Esparza’s corner did their best to control the cut, it was an uphill battle. Through the eighth round, neither woman was backing down. Estrada, clearly in control, began walking through Esparza’s punches, delivering more hard left hooks to the head and body shots. Finally, after the ninth round when Esparza was ruled unable to continue due to the cut, the fight was scored. It was academic at this point; Esparza would have needed a fight-ending knockout to win.
I didn’t really target (the cut) too much,” said Estrada. “I felt great, amazing in the late rounds. I could go for 15 rounds. I truly won every round, headbutt or not.” Estrada’s excellent conditioning allowed her to take advantage of the full three-minute rounds and deliver more punishment.
Estrada moved up from junior flyweight to fight at Esparza’s weight class, and said it wasn’t especially challenging for her. “I walk around at 113, 112 so all week in Las Vegas I was eating breakfast, lunch, and dinner. I don’t hit like I’m 108 pounds, I hit like a middleweight. I know she felt it.”
Esparza said she would love a rematch. Estrada wasn’t feeling the same way. “I want belts,” and she said she would rather clean out her home division at 108 pouns. So is the bad blood between the pair a thing of the past? “No, the beef is not settled. Respect to her team, but I still don’t like her,” said Estrada.
Blair Cobbs makes his win stick in six, remaining undefeated
Blair “The Flair” Cobbs of Las Vegas (13-0, 8 KOs) doesn’t do anything the easy way, but he seems to find the road to a win nevertheless. Cobbs came back from a first-round knockdown to deliver one of his own in the sixth round, winning by TKO when opponent Carlos Ortiz Cervantes (11-6, 11 KOs) of Mexico could not come out for the seventh round.
Cobbs, who had a brief amateur career in his early 20s, is still figuring a lot of things out in the ring. His devil may care attitude makes for fun fights, but it also gets him in trouble when his confidence gets ahead of his skills. It allowed Ortiz to catch Cobbs with a punch strafing the back of his head when Cobbs didn’t get out of the way. He stumbled, with left glove and knee to the canvas, a legal knockdown.
Cobbs didn’t appear seriously hurt, and the pair engaged in plenty of action, missing as much as they were landed. Cobbs began getting into the groove and improving his accuracy. In the sixth round, he delivered a quality counter left hook, sending Ortiz to the canvas. Ortiz beat the count and survived the few seconds remaining in the round, but his corner had seen enough. It was his fourth straight loss and they made a good decision preventing him from any additional injury.
No matter how Cobbs performs in the ring, he saves his best for the post-fight camera time.
“It was a wonderful performance, I tip my hat to my opponent,” said Cobbs. “He’s a tremendous athlete and had tremendous power. Ortiz took a tremendous shot to the back of my head. It came over the head, but it caught me right behind. I just got right back up, and said ‘now, it’s game time baby.’ I got right back on my horse and kept persevering. I am the definition of perseverance. I am the most exciting fighter today, Blair The Flair Cobbs, Woooo!”
Cobbs said the knockdown didn’t change his game plan. “I kept persevering and working my plan, taking him down, breaking him down, throwing body shots, and then I got a little bit dangerous with him. I’m working and getting better and better every time, there’s nothing I can’t do. I’m ready for anybody, anytime, anywhere.
“Now I’m back to the City of Lights, Las Vegas, Nevada. Nobody can stop me now. Viva Mexico!”
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