Hector Garcia shocked the world tonight on Showtime, pulling off a huge upset win over Chris Colbert in their WBA 130 lb eliminator in Las Vegas.
Garcia, who was a +1100 underdog at DraftKings Sportsbook, didn’t just win, he dominated the fight over 12 rounds, taking scores of 118-109, 118-109, and 119-108. Bad Left Hook had the fight 118-109 for Garcia, too.
Garcia (15-0, 10 KO) was a late sub, replacing WBA titleholder Roger Gutierrez, who withdrew three weeks ago due to COVID. He was an Olympian for the Dominican Republic in 2016 and had a lot of amateur experience, but he turned pro late and hadn’t done anything of real note in the paid ranks.
But he definitely arrived tonight at age 30. The southpaw started well, but it did seem like Colbert (16-1, 6 KO) was feeling things out, and when he flashed his hand speed, he had a clear, expected advantage there. A big, big advantage. But Garcia was doing some consistent work, going to the body, putting the old water in the basement, and just kept putting pressure on. Everyone tries to pressure Colbert, and Colbert also usually fights well off the ropes, even if it’s ill-advised.
Tonight he learned very well why it’s ill-advised. Garcia was clearly prepared for Colbert’s tactics and made sure to keep his hands moving when Colbert went to the ropes. Not everything got through, but plenty did, and just as important, it kept Colbert from doing anything.
The fight was going Garcia’s way, but in that manner a boxing fan can be worried about what the judges may be scoring. Listen, we were hours removed from Taylor-Catterall, we were all keenly aware of what can happen in boxing. But then in the seventh round, Garcia drilled Colbert with a shot that put him on the canvas, and it was no flash knockdown. Colbert never quite got back into the fight from there, and spent the last few rounds merely surviving, no longer engaging at all with Garcia.
The judges got this one right, and we got a major upset.
“When I was told three weeks ago about this fight, I knew my life would change,” Garcia said via interpreter. Garcia credited trainer Ismael Salas — who was not in his corner tonight — and confirmed that he does indeed want the WBA title shot at Roger Gutierrez next, which is his to take.
“He was just the better man. I’ll take my defeats the way I take my losses, like a man. I’ll keep my head up and I want to run it back, let’s do it again. There’s no excuses. I just wasn’t myself. I want to get a rematch if I can.”
Colbert congratulated Garcia personally, and thanked him for taking the fight on short notice. He said he’d come back strong. He’s not likely to get an immediate rematch, obviously, but if he gets back to it, there’s no reason he can’t bounce back from this.
Gary Antuanne Russell TKO-10 Viktor Postol
Let’s get this out of the way first: This was a terrible stoppage by referee Mike Ortega. Russell was winning the fight, was surely going to win it on the cards, and did shake the veteran Postol up a bit for sure. But Postol was defending himself, he was aware, he was moving, and there were about 30 seconds to go in the entire fight. I rarely go hard against stoppages because I generally think better early than late, and also because I do respect that referees are the ones right there seeing it up close. But I think this was an awful stoppage. They do happen.
Judges had this 89-82, 89-82, and 88-83 for Russell (15-0, 15 KO) when the fight was stopped. We also had it 88-83 for Russell, he was going to win the fight, and he was closing in a way you like to see. This was easily the most he’s been tested as a pro, and he was coming through it strong. He may have even forced a legit stoppage in those last 30 or so seconds. Postol (31-4, 12 KO) had never been stopped, so now the hype team can say Gary Antuanne did what Terence Crawford, Josh Taylor, and Jose Ramirez did not.
But anyone watching knows better. Russell showed some flaws, still got picked off some by the 38-year-old Postol, who hadn’t fought in nearly two years and had to have been at least a little distracted by what’s happening in his home country right now. And for what it’s worth, as of this writing, 87% of people voting in a Showtime Twitter poll thought it was a bad stoppage.
But don’t totally overlook that Russell did some good work here, either. Still work to be done, still some sharpening up, but the 25-year-old southpaw got a good win here, was earning it completely, and was doing better against Postol than Ramirez did a couple years ago, and Postol didn’t look washed or like a dramatically different fighter than he was last we saw him. It’s a good win. Russell deserves some attention beyond just his name. But the stoppage sticks in the craw.
Fernando Martinez UD-12 Jerwin Ancajas
A pretty sizable upset here, Martinez was +425 at DraftKings Sportsbook coming in, but he clearly won this fight and ended a pretty lengthy title reign, taking the IBF junior bantamweight belt from Ancajas.
Scores were 117-111, 118-110, and 118-110 for Martinez, who improves to 14-0 (8 KO) with easily the biggest win of his career, a huge step up in competition that saw him take the fight to Ancajas (33-2-2, 22 KO) all night, and just constantly win the exchanges and keep an incredible pace.
The 30-year-old Ancajas had held the IBF 115 lb belt since winning the title in Sept. 2016, making nine defenses. It wasn’t the most amazing reign, as he’s pretty purposely avoided fights with the top names in what has been a fantastic division over that period, but he’s a good fighter and showed a ton of heart tonight just hanging in there for the full distance.
Ancajas also has a rematch clause, and said he’ll take it. From a fan perspective, that’s abnormally fine in this case, probably, because he and Martinez, also 30, put on a magnificent, action-packed fight, a real barnburner from front to back.
Martinez set a record for 115 lb fights in CompuBox history by landing 421 power punches. He also landed those at a crazy high clip, going 421 of 833 for a 51% connect rate. He landed just six of 213 jabs (3%), poking those out mostly for show, and was 427 of 1046 (41%) overall. Ancajas didn’t do badly on the numbers himself, but it looks bad compared to Martinez. Ancajas landed 192 of 816 (24%) of his total punches, and 170 of 548 (31%) of his power shots.