By Miguel Maravilla at ringside
Photos: Sumio Yamada
Former world champion Danny “Swift” Garcia (34-1, 20 KOs) scored a ninth round knockout over former world champion Brandon ‘Bam Bam” Rios (34-4-1, 24 KOs) in a WBC welterweight eliminator Saturday night at the Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas. Feeling each other out in the early rounds Garcia boxed as Rios stalked. Garcia began to let his hands loose in round three as Rios continued to press. Closing the fifth round Rios and Garcia had a good exchange as both had some words after the bell. Rios roughed up Garcia on the inside as he backed him to the ropes continuously.
Garcia was sticking and moving past the halfway point landing flush as Rios continued to stalk. In round eight Garcia had a good round jabbing and countering but in the ninth round Garcia landed fully extended flush right hand as Rios hit the canvas and got up staggered referee Kenny Bayless waved off the bout at 2:25.
“I felt the ring rust a little bit in the beginning,” said Garcia, who recorded the 20th knockout of his career. “He’s a good inside fighter and he was giving me some good uppercuts. I felt good, it was a good nine rounds. He came to fight. I came to box, I did that. I came to bang, and I gave the fans what they wanted – a knockout.
“I just noticed when I was getting my punches off he was standing right in front of me and I just let it go. As soon as I got the fight in the middle of the ring where I wanted I landed good shots. I was just letting my hands go and the punch landed.”
After the fight, SHOWTIME Sports reporter Jim Gray asked Garcia how the loss to Thurman affected him.
“The loss was tough. I have the mindset of a winner,” Garcia said. “I hate losing. I took it like a true champion and I bounced back like a true champion.
“I would love the rematch with Keith Thurman. It’s on him. Whenever he’s ready we’ll fight.”
WBA and WBC Champion Thurman isn’t the only potential blockbuster on the horizon for Garcia. Former welterweight champion and the WBC’s No. 1 ranked contender Shawn Porter looms for what would be a massive showdown between the former champions.
After the fight, Rios (34-4-1, 24 KOs) was frustrated with the stoppage and promised to return.
“I’m mad. I don’t like going out like that,” Rios said. “I’m a warrior, I got back up and I wanted to continue. I guess they stopped it but I’m mad. I’m mad because I got up.
“I was doing good. I got lazy with the jab and he came over with the right hand and he caught me. I’m a warrior. I’m still in the game. I didn’t think he did much to hurt me. I think it was closer than what he thought it was. He just caught me with a lucky punch. I was ready to continue.”