Yoenis Tellez makes spectacular statement as novice boxer beats Sergio Garcia to the floor in the third round

LAS VEGAS — When young prospects are elevated to the big show, with a prominent slot that opens the televised pay-per-view, promoters are often telling the audience one clear thing — this is a box office attraction, and you might want to get used to paying.

On Saturday, at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, 23-year-old fighter Yoenis Tellez showed event organizers Premier Boxing Champions and broadcaster Showtime Sports that they were right to entrust him with opening the PPV portion of the big Spence-Crawford show as the Cuban breezed past the far more experienced Sergio Garcia with an apparent ease.

Prior to fight night, Garcia had 31 more fights than Tellez, and had been in the ring with Ted Cheeseman, Sergey Rabchenko, Sebastian Fundora, and Tony Harrison. Though he went 2-2 against that standard of opponent, nobody had knocked him out. Make no mistake, Garcia has competed at contender level — if not the fringes.

But then Tellez entered the chat. And boy, did he make a statement.

Tellez sent Garcia to the canvas in the third round, and his follow-up walloping — a series of combinations in which Garcia failed to fight back — forced referee Robert Hoyle to intervene and call time on the contest, awarding Tellez with the sixth win (five knockouts) of his career.

Tellez had never fought at this level as a pro boxer and only received the call to compete against Garcia three weeks ago. Garcia, you see, was supposed to fight Jesus Ramos — another top, young star PBC has gotten behind — yet the Arizonan withdrew due to injury, thus providing Tellez a spot to make his mark in the fight capital of the world.

Tellez relied on his jab in the opening round while Garcia appeared to dictate the flow of the fight with a more assertive style. In the second, a difference in power between the fighters could be seen as a snappy flurry from Tellez appeared to halt Garcia in his tracks.

Then it all unraveled for Garcia in the third as Tellez showed great intuition to avoid his attack, before bending his body back with an almighty one-two that countered Garcia’s jab. 

Refusing to allow Garcia a moment to recover, when the Spaniard perhaps should have taken a knee to break the action, Tellez thumped him on the jaw with a right hand. That was enough to sit him down and receive a count from Hoyle.

Tellez then loaded up and hit Garcia with singular shots that carried pop — straights, and looping punches — prompting the eventual, and perhaps inevitable, stoppage.

“We worked on this during training camp, especially the right hand and it came out just the way it was supposed to come out,” said Tellez.

“[The finish] was the assassin instinct that us Cubans have. As soon as I saw him [hurt] I knew it was time that he was done so I went for it.”

On what’s next for him, Tellez — despite remaining a six-fight prospect — said: “I want to face the best 154-pounders that are out there.”