His brother had hosted a barbeque and made his signature bacon jalapeno cheeseburgers on a bright, sunny day in his hometown of Houston, Texas. The Garcias devoured them while also knocking back a couple of beers. To his knowledge, Garcia had no fight in sight and could eat how he wanted.
13 days later, Garcia was fighting in the main event of ESPN 2’s Friday Night Fights after junior middleweight Jonathan Gonzalez pulled out due to an injury in sparring. He’d also be winning the fight in a close, hard-fought battle.
Garcia, 34-3 (22), earned a split decision Friday at the UIC Pavilion, beating Noberto Gonzalez, 20-3 (13), by scores of 95-94 Gonzalez, 96-93 and 95-94. Maxboxing had the fight 95-94 for Garcia.
“I went for a little jog after my manager called me and I was 171 [pounds],” Garcia said. “We trained 11 days straight, visualizing and sparring. We only sparred two times. I felt like I was stuck in the mud.
“I bit the bullet and fought,” he said. “I didn’t want to pass up an opportunity like this and I did it.”
For the first two rounds, it looked like Gonzalez was going to run away with it. Gonzalez threw combinations and circled away while Garcia offered very little in the meantime.
Then in third, Garcia, 157, looked like a new fighter. The 33-year-old fighter started to let his hands ago and was able to back up Gonzalez. Garcia landed crunching body shots that slowed his opponent down.
“That’s how I fight,” Garcia said. “I’m a 12-round fighter. I’m not a four or six-round fighter. Even in my sparring sessions, it takes me a little while to get going.”
Gonzalez, 155, rallied in the seventh with a nice back-and-forth round. The two boxers stood in the center of the ring and exchanged punches.
In round eight, Garcia was deducted a point by referee Celestino Ruiz for the use of his forearm. Gonzalez also landed a nice left hook that stunned Garcia near the end of the round, swinging the momentum back to Gonzalez.
Not wanting to let the fight get away, Garcia sensed he had to pick up his energy. He certainly didn’t look like a fighter who had to lose 14 pounds in 12 days.
During the final two rounds, Garcia re-established control. His body punching seemed to kick in and Gonzalez’s pace once again slowed.
In round ten, Garcia charged forward and stunned Gonzalez with a hook to the body. Gonzalez was pushed back into a corner with Garcia pounding away. Gonzalez’s knees buckled, but the bell soon rang. Gonzalez had made it out of the round.
It was Garcia who won the fight.
“(This fight) shows I’m willing to take risks,” Garcia. “I don’t know anybody who can come in and do that. People call me a throwback fighter because I’m normally the b-side on TV and not the a-side. I don’t care about that. I just want to fight.”
Kamil Lasczyk bores vs. Daniel Diaz
Polish feather prospect Kamil Laszczyk got blasted with a right hand in the fist round and immediately answered back with a right hand of his own, knocking down Daniel Diaz.
That was the most action fight fans saw all night.
Laszczyk, 16-0 (8), was in full control throughout of the co-main event as he cruised to a unanimous decision by scores of 79-72, 79-72 and 78-73. Laszczyk landed just enough to win the rounds, but hardly thrilled the UIC crowd.
In round one, Laszczyk sent Diaz, 20-6-1 (15), to the canvas near the end of the round. During the following rounds, Laszczyk jabbed his way in and landed right hands that connected.
Diaz tried to be aggressive at the beginning of the rounds, but was ineffective. His best moment came in the seventh when he landed a straight right hand to stun Laszczyk.
Laszczyk rebounded and took control again. The polish fighter cruised in the eight round, hurting Diaz with a combination near of the round.
Mike Tyson’s prospect Erickson Lubin, 3-0 (3), earned a second round stoppage after Roberto Carlos Acevedo, 13-13-3 (1), withdrew in between rounds, claiming an injured left hand. Lubin was in full control in the first round as he controlled the range and landed a series of body shots. The official time of the stoppage was :01 of round two.
Kristin Gearhart vs Allanna Jones
Former Chicago Golden Gloves winner Kristin Gearhart, 3-0 (1), continued the early stages of her career with a fourth round stoppage over Allanna Jones, 0-2. Gearhart pounded her opponent in the third round, forcing Jones’ corner to stop the fight in between rounds. This was the first knockout of Gearhart’s career.
Amhad Cheikho v Francisco Rios-Gil
In the first fight of the evening, Amhad Cheikho,12-6-2 (7), knocked down Francisco Rios-Gil, 14-22 (8), three times in route to a first round technical knockout. Referee Celestino Ruiz stopped the fight at 2:53.
Junior Wright vs Galen Brown
Local cruiserweight prospect Junior Wright scored a crushing fourth round technical knockout over Galen Brown, 41-25-1 (24). Wright connected with a right hand that put Brown out on his feet and then got in four more blows before Ruiz jumped into stop it. Wright improved to 10-0 (9) in his career.
Jose Felix Quezada vs. Chris Jackson
Chicago lightweight prospect Jose Felix Quezada made his professional debut with a second round knockout over Chris Jackson, 0-2.
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