Ryan Garcia and Derrick James seemed to gel quickly in their first fight together.
The lone exception was the fighter’s odd use of the Philly shell defense in his eventual eighth-round knockout of Mexico’s Oscar Duarte. Among the different looks and techniques that came with Saturday’s win at the Toyota Center in Houston, that part will likely no longer remain in the rotation.
“Derrick told me NEVER to do that,” Garcia admitted to a group of reporters during the post-fight press conference. “He told me, ‘You ain’t Mayweather, don’t do that shit.’ He’ll never admit that but he did say that. I was just doing it, just like ‘Let me see if this works.’
“It kind of did, he couldn’t hit me for two or three rounds. Then he did, and I was like ‘Forget this, I’m just going back to being me.’”
Garcia (24-1, 20KOs) floored Duarte (26-2-1, 21KOs) late in the eighth round, which produced the knockout verdict. With it, he returned to the win column more than seven months after a knockout defeat to Gervonta ‘Tank’ Davis in their April 22 superfight at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.
The fight saw both boxers earn by far the biggest paydays of their respective careers, though it came at the cost of Garcia’s career taking a hit due to internal team issues. The 25-year-old Victorville, California native is still at odds with promoter Golden Boy Promotions, though the two sides agreed to move forward with this fight for the sake of furthering his career.
Garcia parted ways with Joe Goossen shortly after the loss to Davis. He relocated to Dallas almost immediately thereafter to link up with James, the 2022 Trainer of the Year best known for his work with former unified welterweight titlist Errol Spence Jr. (28-1, 22KOs) and current lineal junior middleweight king Jermell Charlo (35-2-1, 19KOs).
“I thought I did good especially with my first fight with Derrick,” noted Garcia. “Derrick was pretty adamant that he wanted me to use my legs. [Duarte] was overly aggressive. I was trying to take some steam off his punches.
“I feel like I’ve found a home in Dallas. I’m just happy to be here. Derrick is committed to it. He’s a great trainer.”
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox