But from the very start, Garcia made his most career-defining victory look easy. In a classic case of bull versus matador, Garcia scored two knockdowns in the first round and floored his rival again in both the third and fourth.
But after an accidental clash of heads in the eighth round resulted in a broken nose for the 25-year-old Oxnard, Calif. native, the fight went to the sscorecards, which rewarded Garcia (31-0, 26 knockouts) with a technical decision victory, the WBO belt and the vacant RING magazine title.
Judges Don Ackerman, Julie Lederman and John Stewart scored it 79-70 and 79-69 (twice) for Garcia. Salido, who sported a badly bruised right eye, slipped to 39-12-2 witth 27 knockouts.
RingTV.com scored it a shutout for Garcia, 80-68, before Dr. Robert Polfsky examined his nose and determined that he could not continue.
Appearing to use his jab as a probe to guide Salido into shots, Garcia dropped Salido twice in the first round — both times with left hooks.
Salido’s gloves touched in the third as the result of a beautifully placed right uppercut. Salido was down, yet again, in the fourth from yet another well-timed left hook.
When Salido threatened to build momentum in the fifth, Garcia clinched before buckling him yet again with a right uppercut.
“I didn’t know that my nose was broken, but I felt the pain from the head butt. It was a unanimous decision win, and I was beating him up. I was working to keep him off with the jab,” said Garcia.
“I had the perfect fight going on. And then he drove his head in to my face, and I felt the pain. The referee asked for the doctor, and the doctor stopped the fight.”
Photo by Chris Farina, Top Rank
Lem Satterfield can be reached at email@example.com