Jason Gonzalez was at the Barclays Center and filed this report
Former two-division world champion Danny Garcia returned to the squared circle for the first time in nine-months. Garcia, 31, of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania easily outpointed Ivan Redkach in the main event at Barclays Center.
Last Saturday night marked the eighth time that Garcia headlined in the county of kings.
The bout with Redkach, now 23-5-1 (18) represented a hybrid of a tune up and a mismatch at the same time.
The crowd of 8, 217 witnessed Garcia punish his foe for the duration of 12 rounds in their 147-pound title eliminator.
"I thought the referee was gonna stop it because I felt like I was punishing him," Garcia said. "He’s a tough guy. He hung in there. I wanted to get the knockout, but I didn’t get it. I feel like I boxed smart, and I feel like that’s what I needed after this [nine-month] layoff. I really wanted the knockout bad, but I’ll accept this."
The final tallies read 118-110 and 117-111 twice. Obviously, it wasn’t a shocker that the heavily favored Garcia won. However, it was surprising that the always aggressive Redkach, a southpaw at that. was so passive.
So, what’s next for Garcia?
Likely a world title bout against either one of his PBC [Premier Boxing Champions] stablemates Errol Spence, Jr. or Manny Pacquiao. Spence and Pacquiao are both lefthanded and bring a lot of hardware to the table. Pacquiao is the proud owner of the WBA [super] belt, while Spence, the unified champion, is in possession of the WBC and IBF trinkets.
Garcia improved his resume to 36-2, (21). Throughout the contest, Garcia landed a lot of heavy leather against an opponent that did nothing at all. Redkach simply confirmed that he can take a beating without wilting. And as a result of Redkach responding back with any offense of his own, Garcia marched forward at will pushing Redkach back.
Redkach sustained a cut over his left eye in the seventh round. The laceration was the product of a Garcia left hook that landed flush on the face of his Ukrainian foe. Redkach was examined by the ringside physician shortly after. Unfortunately, the less than scintillating contest was allowed to continue.
In a bizarre incident, Redkach bit Garcia on the left side of his neck during a clinch to conclude the ninth round.
"He bit me. He said ’Mike Tyson’ when he bit me," Garcia said. "I said ’Ref, he bit me.’ I thought I needed stitches or something. That’s my first time ever getting bit in a fight. Things happen though. I’ve been in a street fight before, so I did it all."
During the post-fight press conference, Garcia acknowledged that he had put on an excessive amount of weight during his time away from the ring. Garcia opened up about shedding 25 pounds in camp, as he prepared for Redkach.
"I’m not gonna lie, I felt good, but I didn’t feel my best," Garcia said. "I did lose a lot of weight for this fight, so maybe that played a factor in not getting a knockout. From a long layoff, and just losing so much weight. I promised myself that I’m going to stay in the gym now and stay in shape. I felt regular, but then when I got on the scale a few weeks ago, I was like whoa! So maybe that played a factor, maybe it didn’t. I make no excuses. I didn’t feel my best, but I felt good."
If Garcia had the power of choosing his next opponent, who would it be? Does he have a preference between Spence and Pacquiao?
"Either or," Garcia would say. "Either of those fights I would like to have. My style looks great with both fighters."
In the co-feature bout of the evening, former unified junior middleweight champion Jarrett Hurd returned to the ring for the first time since dropping his titles to Julian Williams. Hurd dominated an overmatched Francisco Santana over the course of ten rounds.
Hurd, now fighting under the tutelage of trainer Kay Koroma, improved to 24-1, (16). Hurd looked like an entirely new fighter while cruising to 99-90 [twice] and 97-92 victory on the scorecards.
Fight fans were expecting the version of Hurd that resembled a tornado. But instead got a version of Hurd that boxed, slipped and countered shots effectively. Hurd scored a knockdown with just four seconds to go in the fight. The two-point round in the 10th round was the result of a right uppercut that nearly decapitated Santana.
"We came out here and did what we wanted to do. The crowd didn’t love it, but you gotta understand. I got the unanimous decision and I did what I wanted to do," Hurd said, while admitting that he heard the boos cascading through the arena. "There was definitely no frustration. We didn’t want to go toe to toe and we didn’t want to make this a risky fight. We’ve moved on from the Julian Williams fight. We came out here, we had a long layoff and we got the job done."
In a strange turn of events, Williams lost his titles to Jeison Rosario of the Dominican Republic a week ago in Philadelphia. This leaves the prospect of a Williams-Hurd rematch in jeopardy.
"We want the belts. We want the best," Hurd said. "I’m not exactly sure what’s going to be the next move, but we want the belts."
Junior featherweight Stephen Fulton, Jr. of Philadelphia remained undefeated after decisioning Arnold Khegai in a WBO junior featherweight title eliminator.
Fulton, now 18-0, (8) worked the jab while landing some good body shots against the highly aggressive Khegai. The scorecards read 117-111 twice, and 1161-112.
“I felt great,” said Fulton, 25, afterwards. “He was a tough opponent, I just felt good. I stayed on my game plan, kept boxing, didn’t get pulled into his game. I kept my composure because that’s what we paid for. He’s a tough guy, we knew he’d come to fight. My jab is always effective. I try to be smart with it and utilize it a lot.”
Lastly, at this juncture, I would like to acknowledge the passing of basketball great Kobe Bryant by paying homage to the future Hall-of-Famer.
I consider myself very lucky to have witnessed one of the best players of my generation grace the basketball court. I truly marveled at his skillset every time he stepped on the floor. For his contributions to the game of basketball, I say thank you.
The Maxboxing family extends their condolences to the Bryant family, as well as to the relatives of the other victims that perished in that fatal helicopter accident on January 26, 2020 in Calabasas, California.
May they rest in peace.