SAN ANTONIO – Oscar De La Hoya has always viewed fighting in San Antonio as a rite of passage for the biggest stars at Golden Boy Promotions.
It was among the reasons that the city was chosen for the anticipated ring return of Ryan Garcia following a 15-month hiatus. The 23-year-old lightweight didn’t get up in the moment, scoring an early knockdown en route to a twelve-round, unanimous decision win over Ghana’s Emmanuel Tagoe (32-1, 15KOs) in their DAZN main event Saturday evening at the famed Alamodome.
“I’ve always said, now as a promoter, you’re not a true fighter unless you fight in front of this San Antonio crowd,” De La Hoya told BoxingScene.com. “I remember we promoted Canelo [Alvarez[ versus Austin Trout here (in April 2013). Now we’ve brought Ryan Garcia here and look what happened—the people here love Ryan.”
The evidence was in the turnout. An announced crowd of 14,459 packed into the venue originally configured for 12,000 but with an additional 3,000 seats made available to satisfy demand. Garcia (22-0, 18KOs) had a comparatively easier assignment than was the case for Alvarez, his former stablemate who had to dig deep to outlast Trout in their April 2013 WBC/WBA junior middleweight title unification bout in this venue.
Adrien Broner and Marco Antonio Barrera both saw title reigns come to an end on Golden Boy shows at this location. De La Hoya himself was spared a baptism of fire in his Alamodome appearance, scoring a second-round knockout of David Kamau in a June 1997 welterweight championship title defense. Garcia’s fight was somewhere in between De La Hoya’s experience and that of even Alvarez, easily handling Tagoe but forced to go the twelve-round distance for the first time in his career.
Ever the polarizing figure, Garcia drew mixed reactions regarding his performance.
Some saw it as growing pains as a 23-year-old rising contender in his first fight with new trainer Joe Goossen, coupled with his 15-month ring absence. Others were quick to criticize his inability to get rid of the considerably smaller and older Tagoe, who offered little offense but whose survival mode allowed him to overcome a second-round knockdown to go the distance and end Garcia’s five-fight knockout streak.
“That’s why people love watching Ryan,” theorized De La Hoya. “Just like the past greats that went before him, people would root for the best but also against the best. When you’re special, you have the best of both worlds. Ryan has critics who want to see him lose but even more fans who want to see him win.
“The sport is better when Ryan Garcia is active and we were thrilled to be able to bring him to San Antonio and these amazing fans.”
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox