By: Robert Aaron Contreras
On Saturday, former champion Danny Garcia was clearly levels above his opponent as he pummeled Ivan Redkach over the full 12 rounds, walking away the winner of a wide unanimous-decision victory at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York, Garcia’s adopted home.
Garcia (36-2, 21 KO), competing before a partisan Brooklyn crowd for the eighth time, got off to a great start whipping around Redkach, who had some bite to him (actually gnawing at Garcia’s shoulder in the ninth round) before cooling off down the stretch, scoring no knockdowns, making for a performance equal parts dominant and underwhelming, winning 117-111, 117-111 and 118-110, to set the stage for a megafight, possibly against Errol Spence or Manny Pacquiao.
“I thought the referee was going to stop it,” Garcia, fooling no-one, told Showtime correspondent Jim Gray. “I was punishing him—I wanted to get the KO.” More importantly, Gray couldn’t let him go without asking to confirm if Redkach bite him.
Garcia explained, “He bit me… [Redkach] said ‘Mike Tyson’ when he bit me. That’s my first time ever getting bite in a fight.”
Coming off that upset over Devon Alexander, enjoying new KO power at welterweight, Tyson-esque biting wasn’t the kind of savagery Redkach’s handlers thought he would be able to offer Garcia. Instead he opened the contest experimenting with long body jabs. Garcia routinely parried his opponent’s offense and tagged Redkach with one-twos to dissuade the tactic.
Redkach’s left hand did come flying toward Garcia in the second frame. With little zip behind them, and Garcia being the natural counterpuncher he is, the crowd favorite threw light jabs right back at Redkach, curving over the Ukrainian’s extended arm.
Asserting his will, Garcia pulled away from Redkach. His combos and powerpunching were too much. He expertly stalked Redkach in the third round, baiting him to attack, before exploding into dipping, winging right and left hooks.
Garcia’s mixed up his punch selection and, better, his points of entry. Moving diagonally to his right, Garcia touched Redkach lightly upstairs with a right hand before immediately turning the same hand over into a body punch. Timing incoming hooks from Redkach, and won the quick exchanges with left hooks of his own. By and by, Redkach was a sitting duck, open to absorb sweeping shots from Garcia to end of the sixth stanza.
Redkach was just not a threat by the midway point of the 12-round contest. His output so low, Garcia at times fired four consecutive uppercuts. Eventually a heavy right hand from Garcia buckled Redkach’s knees at the end of Round 7. The bell rank and Redkach turned toward the camera to reveal ruddiness outlying his left eye, including above his eyebrow.
Garcia’s two-fisted waves coincided with long stretches of inactivity from Redkach: too busy sticking his hands up to returning anything of note. There was a quick consultation with the doctor before the ninth inning. But Redkach was thrown back out there to be on the receiving end of Garcia’s patented, no-look hooks, catapulting the bricks from seemingly across the ring.
Redkach antics mounted. He gave Garcia a nibble and afterwards repeatedly stuck out his tongue at Garcia, but using his hands to wrap up his assailant, not return fire, as punches reigned down on him. Garcia was unbothered, resuming his lunging haymakers.
The eleventh round, though, saw Garcia’s little tenacity dissipate. Here on out, through the final round, Redkach demonstrated more bounce to his step with fewer raging fists coming his way. He tossed out left hands, making little contact, but simply happy to see Garcia recoil and take a step backwards.
Garcia was still far and away ahead of his man in the final CompuBox totals. He connected on 195 of 568 total punches (34 percent), compared to Redkach’s landing 88 of 578 (15 percent).
This makes two wins in a row for Garcia since dropping a decision to Shawn Porter. A long stint in the pound-for-pound ranks, and domain over the junior welterweight division, far behind him, greater splendor could be his with a successful showdown against Spence or Pacquiao.
Which one exactly doesn’t seem to matter to Garcia.
“Either or,” he said after the fight. “Either of those fights I would like to have. I think my style fits great with both fighters.”
Jarret Hurd (24-1, 16 KO) def. Francisco Santana (25-8-1, 12 KO) by decision
Former unified junior middleweight titlist Jarret Hurd, returning for the first time since losing his belts, outmaneuvered and outpunched Francisco Santana en route to a points win in the evening’s 10-round co-main event.
Too bad it wasn’t the usual, incensed action Hurd typically produces but that was all by design.
“We came out here and did what we wanted to,” Hurd said in the post-fight interview. “We wanted to work behind the jab—we didn’t want to go toe to toe, we didn’t want to go to war.”
Though Santana would’ve likely obliged a warring Hurd, the 29-year-old Maryland destroyer resolved to fight in reverse. In the first round, Santana wasn’t so much stalking but chasing the bigger man around.
Hurd controlled the pace with pawing jabs—not exerting himself. Santana was consistently creeping forward. When he could stringing together bursts of short, shoveling attacks—doing little damage.
The geography of the fight shifted in Round 3 where Hurd wasn’t so keen on giving up the center of the ring, firing stiff jabs at Centeno as “Chia” moved in semicirlces in search for an opening. More stiff jabs landed. Centeno found short success with left hooks as Hurd tested out, or at least attempted, to show off upper body movement. But Hurd returned to racking up points with slicing uppercuts to his man’s head.
Centeno was at least getting his workout in: bobbing here and there, audible grunts accompanying his chippy blows. None of which landed flush, brushing Hurd’s shoulders, and overhands unable to reach the head of his opponent.
Hurd was dealing out more powerful blows in the fifth stanza. Even in close distance, he was safe, leaning back, out of the reach of Centeno, patiently waiting for the shorter man to offer up helpless punches, and returning left-right hooks: more and more damaging as the round progressed.
The rest of the way, Centeno, desperately, pressed his weight into Hurd. Tossing up clenched fists but to no avail: eating punches along the way. Oversized and overmatched. More fluid movement from Hurd to end the sixth round, moving laterally, motioning out and way before springing back toward his man with punches across his body.
The action slipped into a lull through the next couple rounds. There was clumsy punching, both fighters crawling over each other. So Hurd got back on track in Round 9: moving backwards again, now sticking out his off-hand, occasionally tuning it into a long hook. Santana’s arms were still oscillating but touching Hurd with minimal force.
There was finally a knockdown in the waning seconds of the 10th frame. Hurd applied pressure, as he does best, blanketing the smaller man with his size: consuming him. Santana flailing his arms in retaliation. But two winging left hooks ricocheted off Santana’s head and allowed Hurd to tee off a right uppercut that slowly crumbled Santana to the ground. A last-second knockdown. But an inconsequential one, to be sure, manifesting when the fight had already been decided and fans no longer cared.