LAS VEGAS – Hector Luis Garcia’s success in 2022 is a testament to the undefeated Dominican southpaw’s perseverance.
The WBA super featherweight champion became so disenchanted with the boxing business before he capitalized on his two opportunities last year that he considered quitting the sport. After upsetting previously unbeaten Chris Colbert on short notice last February 26 in Las Vegas and out-boxing Roger Gutierrez to win his WBA belt in back-to-back bouts, the 31-year-old Garcia has helped provide proof for amateur and professional fighters in his baseball-crazed country that they can succeed on big boxing stages in the United States.
Garcia (16-0, 10 KOs, 3 NC) will take the toughest test of his six-year professional career Saturday night, when he’ll challenge Gervonta Davis (27-0, 25 KOs) for the Baltimore native’s WBA world lightweight title in the main event of a four-fight Showtime Pay-Per-View telecast from Capital One Arena in Washington, D.C. ($74.99; 9 p.m. ET).
Two of Garcia’s friends from the Dominican Republic – Alberto Puello and Carlos Adames – also won world titles in 2022.
Puello (21-0, 10 KOs), whom Garcia has known since they were teenagers in San Juan de la Maguana, beat Batyr Akhmedov (9-2, 8 KOs) by split decision to win the then-vacant WBA super lightweight title 4½ months ago in Hollywood, Florida. Comendador’s Adames (22-1, 17 KOs) knocked out Juan Macias Montiel (23-6-2, 23 KOs) in the third round to capture the WBC interim middleweight title October 8 at Dignity Health Sports Park in Carson, California.
In between those impressive victories by Puello and Adames, Dominican lightweight Edwin De Los Santos (15-1, 14 KOs) upset highly regarded prospect Jose Valenzuela (12-1, 8 KOs) by third-round knockout September 4 at Crypto.com Arena in Los Angeles.
“We’re an inspiration to the new generation coming up in our country,” Garcia told BoxingScene.com through a translator. “With their desire and their hunger, they see it in us. So, we’re an inspiration for the new generation.”
Garcia’s win against Gutierrez (26-4-1, 20 KOs) – a 12-round, unanimous-decision victory – was part of the same card on which Puello edged Akhmedov. Showtime televised both bouts from Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Hollywood, Florida.
“It was an historic night for both of us,” Garcia said. “It was an historic night for the Dominican Republic and for our province, for our people. It was an historic and memorable night.”
An appreciative Garcia attributes much of the success he, the 28-year-old Puello and Adames, also 28, have had recently to the work that their trainer, Bob Santos, has done with them while preparing them for fights in Las Vegas.
“It’s all because of the attention and the work that Bob Santos has given us,” Garcia said. “Puello and I are from the same town. Adames and I are from an hour away from each other. But the guidance and the attention and the work that Bob Santos has put in since we’ve been training with him, it has all contributed a lot to the success we’ve had.”
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.
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