Ryan Garcia puts promotional issues behind him to halt Oscar Duarte

Ryan Garcia overcame some rough moments to end the challenge of Oscar Durate in the eighth round and draw a line under a tumultuous fight week.

Garcia, who has been involved in a public spat this week with his promoters at Golden Boy Promotions, both Bernard Hopkins and Oscar De La Hoya, caused Duarte to unravel with a signature counter hook.

It was Garcia’s first fight with Dallas trainer Derrick James in his corner and there had been impatient boos from the crowd in the Toyota Center in Houston, but with less than a minute remaining in the eighth round Garcia burst through to score his 20th knockout.

Garcia scored initially with a left hook while his back was to the ropes and Duarte was off balance and in trouble. Duarte fell in toward the ropes but was rocky, his legs unsteady and as Garcia piled in with hooks and uppercuts Duarte dropped to a knee.

Referee James Green picked up the count and while Duarte attempted to rise after the count of ‘nine,’ Green ruled it off. It was a fair stoppage.

Duarte had tried to impose himself with pressure and volume but Garcia’s speed, left hook and ability will allow him to beat almost all of those fighters below the elite level.

Garcia had been given plenty to think about in his first fight back since the loan loss of his career, to Gervonta Davis back in April in one of the biggest fights of 2023.

Garcia, now 24-1, at the age of 25, said: “He [Duarte] was tough, I hit him with some hard shots but he kept coming. I started using my legs. Derrick was like, ‘Man, start using your legs a little bit, it’s going to open up the shot.’ It literally did that.”

The end came at 2-51 of the decisive session. 

Mexican Duarte, 27, falls to 26-2-1 with 21 KOs. 

Garcia later admitted he had been forced to change tactics to quell Duarte’s attacks in the fourth round.

“He took a good punch,” Garcia added, talking about the final salvo that ended matters. “He’s a Mexican fighter like me…. I have a killer instinct. It’s pretty basic technique, jab, he reaches [to counter] and I hit him with a hook.”

Garcia had plenty to say after the fight, and said he hoped to build towards fights with the likes of Teofimo Lopez and Devin Haney. First, he wants WBA beltholder Rolly Romero. And Garcia also paid tribute to trainer James.

“We worked hard,” said ‘King’ Ry. “It’s our first fight together. We’re going to build off this and we’re just going to get better. I’m committing to becoming world champion, and if Rolly wants that, bring it on. I know you [Romero] talk a lot, let’s get that going.”

Garcia was asked to address the differences between himself and Golden Boy and how he had coped with that through fight week. 

“It just comes with the territory,” Garcia continued. “I’m a person [who is] about moving forwards, having a kind heart and showing forgiveness. I want to show positivity in this world. I said what I said but I have no hard feelings towards anybody. I just hope the truth prevails and that’s it.”

De La Hoya posted a video of him visiting Duarte in his dressing room before the fight with a caption that read: “I love to stop by and encourage my warriors before they go into battle. I was asked to ‘stay out’ of the other locker room but loved seeing Oscar Duarte so calm and focused.”