Garcia established himself in the first round, landing the bigger punches against Herrera. But it was quickly clear that the challenger wasn’t going to let Garcia off easy, peppering the champion with strong shots to his body and head. By the end of round four, Garcia’s corner, specifically his father and trainer, Angel Garcia, could be heard telling the champion urgently to step-up his game and take control. Herrera, of Riverside, Calif., pressed on and proved himself as a worthy opponent with both fighters exchanging vicious shots throughout the extremely close match.
With the raucous crowd partial to the defending champion, whose father was born and raised in Puerto Rico, Garcia seemed to be carried by the cheers in what turned out to be the toughest fight of his career. At the end of the fight, SHO STATS reported that Garcia had landed 150 power punches compared to Herrera’s 82. Herrera landed more overall punches with 221 to Garcia’s 204. The final scores were 114-114, 116-112 and, 116-112.
After the fight, Garcia spoke with SHOWTIME Sports® ringside reporter Jim Gray, saying, “He is a crafty veteran and I know every time I step in the ring, every fighter wants what I have. So I expect them to bring everything. I had to make adjustments and I had to push the fight. He is a good fighter but I am a true champion. I had to make adjustments and pull it out. I needed to find my comfort zone but once I adjusted and got him on the ropes I knew I was doing good. I had to keep my composure and use my power shots. He came to fight and he did and it was a great fight.”
When asked if he felt he did enough to win the close decision, Garcia said, “I wanted to knock him out in front of my fans but he was tough. I know nothing is going to be easy from this point on for the rest of my career. I thought I won the fight. The Puerto Rican fans here support me. I love them.”
Regarding a potential move up in weight, Garcia told Gray, “I think making 140 pounds might have affected my performance a little bit. I need to sit with my camp and see if I should go up to 147 and start a new journey. It’s been getting a little hard so maybe I need to think about moving up.”
After the fight, Herrera told media that he felt he won. “I thought I was fine-tuned,” he said. “I came perfectly prepared for this fight. I was trying to push the fight. I came to box but he wasn’t making a fight so I am the one that had to make the fight. I was the one putting the pressure on to make the fight. I feel like I won the fight. I thought I finished strong at the end too. I thought I won the fight.”
In the evening’s co-feature, Deontay “Bronx Bomber” Wilder (31-0, 31 KOs) dazzled the crowd with a powerful first round knockout over Malik “King” Scott (36-2-1, 13 KOs). The knockout, which came at 1:36 of the round, was the result of a quick left-right combination that sent Scott crashing to the canvas and unable to answer the 10-count.
After the fight, Wilder spoke with Grayabout his performance. “I’ve got power. I’ve got natural power. This is something that you can’t buy. This is something that you can’t enhance and put in your body. This is all natural pure Alabama power. The left hand was right to the temple, to the head, and that is a soft spot. My power is crazy. I go through the gloves. Even though he had his gloves, there is nothing stopping that. Even though it went through his glove it still hurts.”
When asked if he is ready to take a step up and fight for a heavyweight title despite having not faced the top fighters in the division, Wilder responded, “All the testing is done in the gym. I bust my butt off in the gym to come here and perform for all the people and I make it look easy. I don’t care if I don’t go past four rounds or solve all the questions that people have about me. I have one mission and it is to unify all the heavyweight belts.”
After the fight Scott, upset by his performance, said, “I got caught. I don’t really remember what happened because I never saw the shot coming. I know he caught me with the left hook. I am so disappointed. I trained really hard. It is just awful.
The entire SHOWTIME CHAMPIONSHIP BOXING telecast, including the replay of “TOE TO TOE: Canelo vs. Angulo” will replay Sunday, March 16 at 9 a.m. ET/PT on SHOWTIME and Tuesday, March 18 at 10 p.m. ET/PT on SHOWTIME EXTREME.
SHOWTIME EXTREME® Results:
In a rematch from 2008 Juan Manuel “JuanMa” Lopez (34-3, 31 KOs) defeated
Daniel Ponce de Leon (45-6, 35 KOs) via TKO at 2:44 of the second round for the WBO Junior Lightweight International Title. The second round, a round of the year candidate, saw both fighters hit the canvas; Lopez first before storming back in the latter half of the round, sending Ponce de Leon down twice before the referee halted the match.
Daniel “Miracle Man” Jacobs (27-1, 24 KOs) defeated Milton Nunez (26-10-1, 24 KOs) via TKO at 2:25 of round 1 in a scheduled 10-round middleweight bout.
Tonight’s SHOWTIME EXTREME telecast will replay Wednesday, March 19 at 10 p.m. ET/PT on SHOWTIME EXTREME.