Former two-division world champion Danny Garcia returned with a vengeance, knocking out Brandon Rios in a WBC Welterweight Title Eliminator in the main event of SHOWTIME CHAMPIONSHIP BOXING Saturday on SHOWTIME from Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas.
Returning for the first time since dropping a close split-decision to Keith Thurman in a welterweight world championship unification fight in March of 2017, Garcia reminded fans of his position amongst boxing's elite at 147 pounds with an early candidate for 2018 Knockout of the Year.
Garcia (34-1, 20 KOs) did his best work in the center of the ring, where he was able to box at a distance and fend off Rios' furious pace. Rios, who returned in 2017 from a brief retirement, was most effective against the ropes where he gave Garcia trouble with his constant pressure and his favorite weapon - a wide overhand right.
In the ninth round with the fight where Garcia wanted it - in the center of the ring - the Philadelphia native landed a huge counter right to the chin that sent Rios flat on his back. Rios beat the count, but was clearly wobbly on his feet, forcing referee Kenny Bayless to halt the contest at 2:25 of the ninth.
After the fight, Rios (34-4-1, 24 KOs) was frustrated with the stoppage and promised to return.
"I'm mad. I don't like going out like that," Rios said. "I'm a warrior, I got back up and I wanted to continue. I guess they stopped it but I'm mad. I'm mad because I got up.
"I was doing good. I got lazy with the jab and he came over with the right hand and he caught me. I'm a warrior. I'm still in the game. I didn't think he did much to hurt me. I think it was closer than what he thought it was. He just caught me with a lucky punch. I was ready to continue."