This was not the way Oscar Duarte wanted to end the biggest fight of his career.
The streaking Mexican contender was forced to absorb his first defeat in nearly five years versus Ryan Garcia. Duarte was determined through seven rounds before a left hook to the chin set up an eventual eighth-round knockout win for Garcia this past Saturday at Toyota Center in Houston. Texas. The bout’s lone knockdown ended with referee James Green waving his arms to stop the fight, though Duarte insisted he was up before the count of ten.
“I felt like it was unfair,” Duarte told reporters through a translator during the post-fight press conference. “I beat the count. It wasn’t fair that he didn’t let me continue.
“I just hope to meet Ryan again and we can get our revenge.”
Garcia (24-1, 20KOs) floored Duarte (26-2-1, 21KOs) late in round eight. Duarte remained on a knee as Green reached the count of nine, before he rose to his feet. Green counted to ten during the process and considered the fight done by that point.
The win was the first for Garcia since a sixth-round knockout of Javier Fortuna last July 16 in Los Angeles. He suffered a seventh-round knockout to Gervonta ‘Tank’ Davis (29-0, 27KOs) in their blockbuster April 27 Showtime Pay-Per-View headliner at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.
Saturday marked Garcia’s first fight under new trainer Derrick James. The union seems to be a good fit given Garcia’s outing, though not everyone was a fan of the bout’s conclusion.
Duarte offered a mild protest in the immediate aftermath but resigned to accept the disappointing ending. He trailed through seven rounds (69-64, 68-65, 68-65) but won rounds five and six on two of the three scorecards. Garcia dialed up the pressure in the eighth to end a fight that Duarte hoped to extend into the later rounds.
“It was unfair. I got up and felt good. I was ready to continue,” insisted Duarte, who won eleven in a row—all inside the distance—prior to Saturday. “I still had some fight left in me. I was ready to keep going.”
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox