Hector Garcia took advantage of the opportunity of his life on Saturday night.
The little-known underdog largely overshadowed his 130-pound rival Chris Colbert on his way to defeating the raucous Brooklyn native and winning a 12-round unanimous decision win in Showtime’s main event from Chelsea inside The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas. Colbert (16-1, 6 KOs) didn’t deal well with Dominican Southpau pressure or body punches.
Judges Dave Moretti (118-109), Patricia Morse Jarman (119-108) and Steve Weisfeld (118-109) gave Garcia a clear credit for his work, which included a seventh-round knockout.
Garcia’s confidence was never shaken, as Colbert hit his head and body in a completely one-sided fight. Caesars Sportsbook put Colbert as the 22-1 candidate before being teased by Garcia, late substitute for WBA champion Roger Gutierrez.
The 30-year-old Garcia (15-0, 10 KOs, 3 NC), the 2016 Olympian for the Dominican Republic, has fought over 300 amateur fights. His experience was as clear as his strength during his second televised fight only in the United States.
“When I was told three weeks ago that I was going to take this fight, I saw in my eyes that my life would change,” Garcia told Showtime’s Jim Gray through an interpreter. “So, I needed to be at my best.”
Garcia had the best performance of his career without his head coach, Ismael Salas, in his corner. Assistant coach Bob Santos served as Garcia’s second boss as Salas traveled to Glasgow, Scotland, for two-time Olympic gold medalist Ruby Ramirez in the third round to stop Eric Donovan on Josh Taylor’s Jack Caterall card at OVO Hydro.
Garcia added, “I want to give a lot of credit to Professor Ismael Salas, who gave me the confidence to say, ‘You can win this fight.’”
Garcia took on this fight at less than three weeks’ notice. Colbert Gutierrez was supposed to fight for the world super featherweight title for Gutierrez, but Gutierrez contracted COVID-19 during training and withdrew from what was supposed to be a mandatory title defense.
Colbert Garcia was a playoff match, and thus Garcia expects to challenge Argentina’s Gutierrez (26-3-1, 20 KOs) in his next fight.
Colbert gave Garcia credit for his accomplishments.
“I want to thank everyone who came here to support me,” Colbert said. “I’m sorry I let you all down, but tonight he was just a better man. I’ll take my defeats while I take [wins], as a man. I’m going to keep my head up and want it back. Let’s do it again.”
Colbert would not use a late substitution in his opponents, from the right fighter to the south, as justification for his first defeat.
“No no no no. It’s not a disappointment, nothing like that,” Colbert said. “There are no excuses. I’ll take my losses the way I take my profits. He was the best guy tonight. Let’s take it back again.”
Needing a knockout, Colbert attempted to hit her with Garcia once the twelfth round began. Garcia’s strength soon made him ponder that strategy and forced Colbert to turn away from him.
Clearly well ahead of the points, Garcia crushed Colbert during Round 11 by one. Colbert shied away from him at times, when he clearly needed to attack an opponent who was clearly ahead on points.
Referee Kenny Bayliss blamed Colbert for pushing Garcia 35 seconds into the 10th round. Straight left from Garcia shot Colbert into the corner with 1:35 to go in the 10th round.
Colbert tied Garcia just a minute before the 10th round. Garcia later dumped a lineup on Colbert when he was put into the corner.
Colbert slammed Garcia with his right hand during the eighth round, but Garcia took it well. This provided at least evidence that Colbert would fight hard to remain undefeated.
After sending Colbert to the board during the seventh round, Garcia beat him again during the eighth round. Garcia threw heavy punches to the head and body in the eighth round, when he supported a match but outplayed Colbert on the ropes and hit him.
Garcia hit Colbert with two connected dribs with just over 1:40 left in the seventh round. Garcia Colbert’s reverse left hand hit the back with 1:15 on the clock in round seven.
Colbert had risen from the first knockout of his career by the time Bayliss was up to five. He stuck once the action resumed and moved his way toward the bell to finish the round, but not before Garcia dropped a couple more difficult.
Colbert’s reverse right hand touched down early in the sixth round. Colbert took a corner kick later in the sixth round and Garcia waved forward.
Garcia forced through powerful shots to Colbert’s head and body. He stopped Colbert in his track with a left hand that landed with 30 seconds to go in round six.
Garcia tattooed Colbert’s upper left straight backing him in the ropes with a 25-second clock in the fifth round. The underdog had his way with Colbert that round when Colbert got back on the ropes, although Colbert pulled off early in the fifth when he kept the action in the middle of the ring.
Aggressive Garcia pressed Colbert throughout the fourth round, as he continued to throw body shots and consistently moved Colbert backwards. Colbert waved it forward, but apparently had a hard time dealing with Garcia’s work and dynamism.
Colbert stood back home and hit him with Garcia in the third round. Garcia missed many of his attempts to head Colbert, but continued to hunt Colbert with his body.
Colbert Garcia dug right into his body by about 35 seconds to go in the third round. Garcia landed straight left in the final 10 seconds of the third round, re-shooting Colbert with his right hand.
Colbert stood and traded with Garcia throughout the second round, but Garcia managed to top out again in those three minutes. Garcia continued to chase Colbert’s body and Colbert grabbed a hook bouncing right at the end of the second round.
Garcia landed hard left on Colbert’s body and then grabbed him with a heavy blow in the first minute of the first round. Garcia continued hitting Colbert with the left in the body during the first round.
Keith Edick is a senior writer/columnist at BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.