HOLLYWOOD, Florida – Hector Luis Garcia has gone from an unknown, unproven fighter to a world champion in less than six months.
The Dominican southpaw patiently but effectively dominated Roger Gutierrez to win the WBA super featherweight title by unanimous decision Saturday night at Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino. The unbeaten Garcia regularly caught Gutierrez with left hands and right hooks, mostly defended himself well against the former champion and completely controlled their 12-round bout to comfortably win on the scorecards of judges Fred Fluty (118-110), Alexander Levin (117-111) and Michael Ross (117-111).
Though the challenger, Garcia (16-0, 10 KOs, 3 NC) showed why he entered their fight as a 3-1 favorite according to most sportsbooks. Venezuela’s Gutierrez (26-4-1, 20 KOs) lost the WBA 130-pound crown he won from Rene Alvarado in the second of their three fights in January 2021.
Garcia secured his shot at Gutierrez’s title by upsetting Chris Colbert, a 22-1 favorite, by unanimous decision February 26 in Las Vegas. Garcia battered Brooklyn’s Colbert (16-1, 6 KOs), who suffered a seventh-round knockdown, throughout a 12-round bout Showtime televised from The Cosmopolitan.
Colbert was supposed to challenge Gutierrez for the WBA 130-pound championship that night, but Gutierrez contracted COVID-19 while training. Garcia replaced Gutierrez on less than three weeks’ notice.
On Saturday night, Gutierrez desperately needed a knockout to win in the 12th round. Garcia stood his ground, though, and was the more active, accurate puncher during those final three minutes of their fight.
Two right hands by Gutierrez landed within a five-second span with just under a minute to go in the 11th round. Several seconds later, a right hook by Garcia knocked Gutierrez off balance.
Gutierrez caught Garcia with a right hand as he backed into the ropes barely a minute into the 10th round. That shot made Garcia respond with several flurries of punches that demonstrated his superiority over Gutierrez.
An active Garcia landed two right uppercuts just before the midway mark of the ninth round. About 10 seconds later in what was a dominant round for Garcia, he clipped Gutierrez with a left hand.
Garcia caught Gutierrez with two left hands in the final 10 seconds of the eighth round.
A straight left by Garcia made Gutierrez take a step backward just after the halfway point of the seventh round.
Gutierrez couldn’t catch Garcia clean during the sixth round, but he did a better job of defending himself in those three minutes.
A right hook by Garcia connected with just over 40 seconds remaining in the fifth round. Another right hook by Garcia landed approximately 30 seconds later.
Referee Frank Gentile warned Garcia for hitting Gutierrez on the back of his head with just under 50 seconds to go in the fourth round. Garcia fell to the canvas several seconds later, but he finished the fourth round strong.
The challenger landed a left uppercut and then a straight left that violently snapped back Gutierrez’s head with just over 20 seconds on the clock in the fourth round.
Garcia’s straight left backed up Gutierrez with about 1:15 to go in the third round. Gutierrez complained about a head clash about five seconds later.
With less than 10 seconds to go in the third round, Garcia landed a left-right combination that stopped Gutierrez from coming forward.
Neither fighter did much damage during a nondescript second round.
A left hand by Garcia knocked Gutierrez backward with about 40 seconds to go in the first round. Gutierrez landed a right hand that made Garcia reset his feet about 15 seconds later.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.