Former two-division world titlist Danny Garcia got his tune-up out of the way, and now he hopes it's on to a truly major fight.
Garcia easily outpointed overmatched underdog Ivan Redkach, battering him throughout a one-sided welterweight world title elimination bout before 8,217 on Saturday night at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York.
"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 KO, 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 judges scored it 118-110, 117-111 and 117-111 as Garcia dished out a beating to one-time hot prospect Redkach, who was selected in part because he is a southpaw.
The reason: Garcia's next fight likely will be a big one -- a world title shot against either unified 147-pound titlist Errol Spence Jr. (26-0, 21 KOs) or titleholder and resident boxing legend Manny Pacquiao (62-7-2, 39 KOs), both of whom are also left-handed.
In fact, Garcia was due to meet Spence on Saturday night but the fight was called off before it had even been formally announced after Spence sustained injuries in a high-speed, one-car accident in October. But Spence is due back late this spring or in early summer, as is Pacquiao, and Garcia probably will be a challenger for one of them.
But first came Redkach (23-5-1, 18 KOs), 33, a Ukraine native who fights out of Los Angeles. He showed very little other than an ability to take punches without going down.
After a bit of a slow start, Garcia began to turn up the heat in the fourth round, when he began to work Redkach over to the body and land nice combinations and left hooks. Redkach could only muster sticking out his tongue at Garcia in the final seconds of the round after getting hit.
Garcia (36-2, 21 KOs), 31, of Philadelphia, continued to pound Redkach in the fifth round, including hurting him with a right hand late in the round. He marched forward at will, showing virtually no respect for Redkach's offense.
In the seventh round, as if Redkach didn't have enough problems, he sustained a cut over his left eye.
Redkach had taken such a beating that, just as the ninth round began, referee Benjy Esteves called timeout because the ringside doctor wanted to examine Redkach. The fight was allowed to go on but Garcia, who was headlining at Barclays Center for the eighth time since the building opened in 2012, continued to dole out punishment. Just as the round was ending, Redkach bit Garcia on the left side of his neck while in a clinch.
"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."
Garcia's overwhelming dominance was illustrated in the CompuBox statistics. He landed 195 of 568 punches (34%) and Redkach landed only 88 of 578 (15%).
Redkach somehow found a positive in getting drubbed.
"This was very good experience for me," said Redkach, who had former trainer of the year Jack Mosley -- Shane Mosley's father -- in his corner for the first time. "He never had me hurt, and I was able to learn a lot. I'm thankful to be in this position that my team put me in and I'm going to keep growing from here. I'm going to get back in the gym and get stronger and better."
Garcia dominated even though he said he had to lose 25 pounds in eight weeks for the fight.
"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."
Now Garcia, who has won world titles at welterweight and junior welterweight, will look forward to landing a fight with Spence or Pacquiao next.
"Either or," Garcia said of his preference. "Either of those fights I would like to have. My style looks great with both fighters."
Hurd routs Santana in return
Former unified junior middleweight world titlist Jarrett Hurd returned from losing his 154-pound belts and cruised past the much smaller and overmatched Francisco "Chia" Santana, who was moving up in weight, to win a one-sided decision in the co-feature.
Hurd, in his first fight with new trainer Kay Koroma, employed far more movement than usual but also landed many clean punches en route to winning 99-90, 99-90 and 97-92 in a fight that often resembled a sparring session.
Hurd punctuated the victory by landing a hard right uppercut for a knockdown with four seconds left in the fight.
Last May, Accokeek, Maryland's Hurd fought in his home region in Fairfax, Virginia, in his fourth title defense, but it could not have gone worse. He got knocked down and lost an upset decision to Julian "J Rock" Williams in a contender for fight of the year. Rather than go through with the expected immediate rematch he initially planned to have in December, Hurd bypassed it because he had fired trainer Ernesto Rodriguez and wanted time to get used to working with new trainer Koroma.
In their first fight together, Hurd (24-1, 16 KOs), 29, dispensed with fighting on the inside and trying to outmuscle his opponent. Instead, Hurd, with a massive size advantage, easily dominated with his jab, combinations and movement against the game Santana, who did little more than follow him around looking for one big left hook.
"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," said Hurd, acknowledging the booing from the crowd during the fight. "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."
Last week, Williams lost the belts he won from Hurd to Jeison Rosario, leaving the prospect of a Williams-Hurd rematch in limbo.
"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."
Santana (25-8-1, 12 KOs), 33, of Santa Barbara, California, who has been in many tough fights, dropped to 1-4 in his last five bouts but went the distance in each of those losses.
"In the last round, I wanted to come forward and close it hard, but I got a little bit careless for a second," Santana said of the knockdown. "In boxing you have to stay focused for every second of every round. He caught me with a good shot. I just wanted to keep coming forward and give it my all. I know I was frustrating him at times, but it was a tall task and I don't make any excuses."
According to CompuBox, Hurd landed 233 of 684 (34%) and Santana landed 95 of 737 (13%).
Fulton outpoints Khegai in title eliminator
In the opener, junior featherweight Stephen Fulton Jr. used his superior speed, boxing skills and body punching to win a clear unanimous decision over Arnold Khegai in a world title elimination fight that was the biggest fight either man had been in.
Fulton won 117-111, 117-111 and 116-112 to move a step closer to a mandatory shot at the 122-pound world title belt held by Emanuel Navarrete.
Fulton (18-0, 8 KOs), 25, of Philadelphia, relied quite a bit on his jab as well as a body attack to blunt the aggressive Khegai, who went past 10 rounds for the first time.
"I felt great against a tough opponent," Fulton said. "I stayed on my game plan, kept him off his game and pulled a victory out. I knew he was a rough and tumble customer, so I just had to keep my composure. That's what I do. I use my jab. I tried to utilize the jab all night and win the fight behind the jab. I showed that I'm ready for a world title next.
"I stayed smart and kept boxing. I used my jab in every round, and that's why I pulled the victory out."
Khegai, who had swelling under his left eye, showed desperation in the late rounds, going hard after Fulton in the 11th round in which he backed him up with a hard left hook-overhand right combination.
Khegai (16-1-1, 10 KOs), 27, a Ukraine native fighting out of Los Angeles, was even with Fulton on the scorecards after four rounds and continued to press the action in the 12th round, but it was too little, too late.
"It feels good to get this win. We've been through tough times and fought tough opponents," Fulton said. "I want that world title. I'm going to train even harder for my next performance so if I have to dog out it out even more, I'll be ready."
According to CompuBox, Fulton landed 182 of 535 punches (34%) and Khegai connected with 123 of 649 (19%).
"This was my first camp with [trainer] Marvin Somodio, but we only had four weeks together," Khegai said. "He is a great trainer for me, and if we had more time, I feel I would have performed a lot better. I will go back to the drawing board, but I plan to come back to the elite level and reach championship status."