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Kingry is back but he won’t rule unless flaws are fixed

On Saturday, Ryan Garcia returned to the fold for the first time since his superfight loss to Gervonta Davis, stopping Oscar Duarte in eight rounds in front of 10,000 fans at Toyota Center in Houston, Texas.

The wildly popular Californian officially stepped up to the junior welterweight division and fought a pumped-up lightweight fringe contender. It felt like a solid building block for Garcia as he looks to settle into his new home, or close to it as the weight for the Duarte fight was moved to 143 pounds at his behest.

While some predicted a blowout victory for Garcia, it proved to be more of a test for the former lightweight contender. Garcia had his way early as Duarte followed him around but was unable to — or simply couldn’t — cut the corners off with enough efficiency to really trouble the odds favourite.

Curiously, Garcia went into reverse in Rounds 6 and 7, handing Duarte the initiative. As DAZN commentators Sergio Mora, Shawn Porter and Chris Mannix pointed out, it was reminiscent of his promoter Oscar De La Hoya’s performance late in the Felix Trinidad fight back in the day.

Finally, Garcia (24-1, 20 knockouts) found a home for a big shot and hurt Duarte before teeing off on his hurt opponent, bludgeoning him to the canvas. Duarte (26-2-1, 21 KOs), who gathered himself on one knee, had seen enough when he rose too late and was stopped by referee James Green at 2:51 of the eighth round.

At the time of the stoppage Garcia was ahead on all three scorecards 69-64, 68-65 (twice).

According to CompuBox Garcia landed 70 of 300 punches, while Duarte landed 69 of 287. So, the B-side was slightly more economical. Garcia’s jab found a home just 15 times from 162 jabs thrown, doubtlessly something that will need to improve going forward.

Now while Garcia got the all-important victory, his first under the stewardship of Derrick James, the same old problems presented themselves. Garcia, who has impressive speed, power and athleticism, isn’t fundamentally sound. He still pulls back in straight lines and holds his chin out to dry. It’s a mistake Davis took advantage of, and other top-tier fighters will do so too unless he can correct the problem.

The 25-year-old also looked to use the shoulder roll, which is a complex move that if mastered, as Floyd Mayweather Jr. did during his hall-of-fame career, can be hugely effective. If not, it’s a liability to the fighter.

Garcia had his body half turned when Duarte was close. It looked strange and was something the expert eyes of the DAZN team brought up. There’s plenty for Garcia to work with but it’s tough get a fighter to listen when they’re coming off a reported $30 million payday. The fighter has the power, and it looks like Garcia is doing what he wants and not what James has told him or hall of famer Joe Goossen previously. The trainer can only do so much. As the legendary Lennox Lewis recently told me, he believed and bought into what Emanuel Steward was telling him. It doesn’t look that way for Garcia, who wants to be the captain of his ship.

It’s also worth noting that a few months ago in the wake of Davis-Garcia, that “KingRy” and his promoter De La Hoya were involved and a very public spat. It looked as though the union was destined to go sideways until both parties agreed to put park things.

Well, during fight week, things looked decidedly unparked. Garcia bashed De La Hoya and Bernard Hopkins at equal measure. Those on the podium looked a little awkward on Wednesday.

This looks like it’ll continue to rumble and fester. While Garcia is of course entitled to his opinion, this is exactly how he came across — entitled. These things are better said and done away from the public eye. It was quite alarming to see him again address them in front of the masses.

Moving forward, Garcia turned his attention toward WBA 140-pound beltholder Rolando Romero.

“I told everyone I’m committing to become world champion,” said Garcia. “If Rollies wants that, bring it on Rollies. I know you talk a lot, let’s get it going.

“Where you at, Rollies? You got beat up by that old dude (Ismael Barroso), we know what happened. Don’t be trying to fake it.”

It would look a smart move if they can secure Romero, who is very beatable. It would also give Garcia the opportunity to pick up that elusive world title.

However, unless he’s able to fix some of the holes in his game, which would mean settling on a trainer and listening to them, really buying into what they are teaching, I don’t think he beats any of the elites at 140. It would also be smart to get on the same page as his promoters, in this case two hall of famers, who have been there and done it, and get everyone singing from the same hymn sheet going forward.

Regardless, there’s never a dull moment with Garcia.

Credit: Ring TV

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