Nothing about what Ryan Garcia had to offer seemed to take Oscar Duarte by surprise.
The Mexican lightweight did his best to remain competitive in an eventual eighth-round knockout defeat to Garcia in their December 2 DAZN headliner from Toyota Center in Houston. Duarte trailed 69-64, 68-65 and 68-65 through seven rounds but closed the gap and seemed to time his opponent’s hand speed and movement.
The power of Garcia (24-1, 20KOs) ultimately proved to be too much to overcome. Duarte was floored late in round eight and—despite his insistence that he wanted to continue—rose too late into referee James Green’s count as the fight was waved off at that point.
“His speed didn’t surprise me. He just caught me good on the chin,” Duarte insisted during the post-fight press conference. “I felt like I acclimated to his power but he caught me with a good shot in the end. That was it.”
The setback snapped an eleven-fight win streak for Duarte (26-2-1, 21KOs), all inside the distance but which came at lightweight. Saturday’s bout saw both boxers enter at career-heaviest weights for the contest fought at a contracted limit of 143 pounds.
Duarte was unbothered by the additional weight and Garcia’s natural size advantage. He eventually ran out of ring space and resistance to further extend the fight.
“I wanted to catch him with my right. He caught me and put me down,” noted Duarte. “I tried to get up but that was it.”
Despite the setback, the 27-year-old from Chihuahua still drew praise from his Hall of Fame promoter and former six-division titlist Oscar De La Hoya.
“I kept saying I was surprised Ryan picked Oscar,” insisted De La Hoya, head of Golden Boy Promotions. “He picked him because he’s a tough son of a bitch. He showed it [Saturday night]. He hung in there.”
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. X (formerly Twitter): @JakeNDaBox