Junior middleweight fringe contender Robert Garcia won his third bout since losing to Antonio Margarito with a 10-round unanimous decision over Antwone Smith on Friday at the Convention Center in Pharr, Texas.
Garcia (31-3, 21 knockouts), a 31-year-old veteran from Weslasco, Texas, took advantage of the small ring and applied steady pressure throughout the Friday Night Fights main event. Smith (21-4, 12 KOs), a 25-year-old former welterweight prospect from Miami, was game and able to score with single shots in each round but he was soundly outworked by the physically stronger and naturally bigger fighter.
Garcia, who dropped a 10-round decision to Margarito in May of 2010, blocked punches and landed right hands and chopping body shots as he walked down his smaller opponent, ultimately winning by scores of 98-92 and 97-93 (twice).
In the co-featured bout of the ESPN2 broadcast, James De La Rosa bounced back from the first loss of his pro career with an entertaining eight-round decision over Tyrone Brunson. Both fighters lost their last bouts. De La Rosa (21-1, 12 KOs), a 24-year-old welterweight prospect from San Benito, Texas, was dropped three times en route to a decision loss to Allen Conyers last January. Brunson (21-2-1, 20 KOs), of Philadelphia, has not fought since being suffering a third-round stoppage to Carson Jones in 2009.
Prior to that loss, Brunson had stopped 20 out of 22 opponents, including 19 consecutive first-round knockouts, which eclipsed the late Edwin Valero’s world record. However, Brunson’s management matched him ridiculously soft in pursuit of that record, which obviously compromised the talented boxer-puncher when he stepped up in competition. Against Jones, Brunson punched himself out and was defenseless against the more-experienced fighter.
One got the feeling that Brunson was leery of punching himself out against De La Rosa, as he never really let his hands go during the bout. He had quicker hands, better technique and more power, but De La Rosa wanted to win more.
After a brisk opening round, Brunson caught De La Rosa with a counter hook that rocked the Texan off balance and caused his glove to touch canvas. Referee Tony Garcia counted it as a knockdown, but Brunson did not try to press his advantage against De La Rosa, who was the aggressor throughout the bout.
De La Rosa was a little sloppy in his attack but he kept Brunson in a defensive shell in rounds three through six. Brunson let his hands go a little more in rounds seven and eight, but it too little, too late.