Undefeated world champion Danny “Swift” Garcia (33-0, 19 KOs) put on a show for fans in his hometown Saturday night as he dropped and stopped Colombia’s Samuel Vargas (25-3-1, 13 KOs) on his way to a seventh round TKO victory in the main event of Premier Boxing Champions on Spike from Temple University’s Liacouras Center in Philadelphia.
The dominant performance by Garcia officially set up a welterweight world championship unification showdown in March against Keith “One Time” Thurman, who was in attendance as part of Spike’s broadcasting crew. The two welterweight world champions met in the middle of the ring after the conclusion of the bout and began to set the stage for their explosive showdown.
Garcia was sharp offensively and defensively Saturday night, making Vargas miss often and countering with powerful shots. He started slow but late in the second round, Garcia delivered an overhand right hand that sent Vargas tumbling to the canvas.
“I felt a little rusty,” said Garcia. “But I started putting my punches together well and came out with the victory. The overhand right knocked him down. It was just a well-timed shot.”
“I got beat up in there,” said Vargas. “It takes a lot of courage to come to North Philadelphia and fight the champ. It just wasn’t my night.”
Vargas continued to come forward and work, but Garcia was entirely in control, making Vargas swing at air while delivering shots of his own that kept him in command. In the seventh round, Garcia began to unload with a series of big shots that hurt Vargas on the ropes. This eventually prompted referee Gary Rosato to stop the fight 2:17 into the round.
“It was great to give back to my fans in Philadelphia,” said Garcia. “It was a long time coming. I’m just happy I was able to give Philly a great night. I’m a Philly champion and it was great to see guys like Allen Iverson and Meek Mill out here supporting. Most importantly it felt great to give back to those in need in my city.”
“Danny is a great fighter and a great person for his city,” said Vargas.
With the March 4 unification fight now set, boxing fans can look forward to seeing two of the best fighters in the sport put their undefeated records and world titles on the line.
The co-main event of the evening saw undefeated rising star Jarrett Hurd (19-0, 13 KOs) stop former title challenger Jo Jo Dan (35-4, 18 KOs) in the sixth-round of their super welterweight battle.
The smaller Dan sought to smother Hurd from the beginning and negate the previously unbeaten fighter’s advantage in reach and height. Hurd was unable to get full power behind his punches, while Dan tried to hit Hurd with short punches, mainly to the body.
“We knew he was a crafty southpaw,” said Hurd. “We wanted to take our time because we didn’t know how he would come out. We felt him out at first.”
“The weight was a big difference,” said Dan. “I took the fight on short notice and I’m a 147-pound fighter. He was too strong for me tonight.”
Things began to open up for Hurd in round two as he began to tee off on the head of Dan, including a thudding left that caused Dan’s nose to bleed. Hurd continued to pummel Dan, mixing in looping shots to the body with his devastating array of hooks and uppercuts.
“My defense was a little off because being prepared for a right hander,” said Hurd. “We fixed that in the last round and got the stoppage.”
The damage continued into the sixth round as Dan kept coming forward but was consistently met with hard shots from Hurd. The fight was finally called at 1:08 into the sixth round, on the advice of Dan’s corner.
“He was wobbly and shaky,” said Hurd. “I probably would have taken him out in the next round. There are a lot of great fighters in this division and whoever I can get in there with next, I’ll be ready for.”
“He’s a tough guy,” said Dan. “I gave him some tough shots and I took some good shots. At the end of the day this is boxing. I couldn’t do enough to get the win.”
The opening bout of the telecast saw former world champion Javier Fortuna (31-1-1, 22 KOs) survive an early knockdown to come back and earn a unanimous decision over previously unbeaten Omar Douglas (17-1, 12 KOs) in their 10-round lightweight match.
Douglas got off to the better start, connecting with a straight left hand late in the first round that buckled the knees of Fortuna and sent him to the canvas.
“He got me cold in the first round,” said Fortuna. “I wasn’t surprised that he came out sharp. I worked very hard to come back.”
“The left hand was there for me so I took it,” said Douglas. “I knocked him down based on reflexes.”
Fortuna recovered nicely however, and used his movement and combination punching to fluster the less experienced Douglas. Fighting primarily out of the southpaw stance, Fortuna used his jab and followed up with flurries that score consistently.
“Every time that I was aggressive, I tried to follow it up with more punches,” said Fortuna.
Douglas tried to be patient and counter, but too often it led to the fighters getting tangled up instead of inflicting damage.
“He was grabbing me, but that’s the game” said Douglas. “That’s the game I signed up for.”
The final round saw Fortuna come out strong in an attempt to close the show with emphasis.
“I knew in the final round that I had to finish it well to make sure there were no questions,” said Fortuna.
The former champion connected at will on Douglas for much of the round, staggering him near the ropes with successive hooks. Douglas stayed on his feet but was unable to mount enough offense as all three judges gave the final round to Fortuna. In the end, the judges scored the bout 96-93 twice and 95-94 for Fortuna.
“I feel like I won the fight. The decision was absurd. He held me the whole fight,” said Douglas.
“I felt like I won just about every round after the first,” said Fortuna. “I want a rematch with Jason Sosa next. That’s a very big fight for me.”