Former world champion Danny Garcia (34-1, 20 KOs) wanted to prove his critics wrong after suffering his first career loss.
Garcia made a statement with a counter straight right-hand that dropped Brandon Rios (34-4-1, 25 KOs) in the ninth round, giving the Philadelphia native a TKO win in the main event at the Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas on Saturday.
After an 11-month layoff, it took Garcia a few rounds to get his timing down while Rios applied constant pressure. Garcia said he felt the ring rust a little bit in the beginning.
“My eyes weren’t as sharp as I wanted them to be,” said Garcia. “He’s a good inside fighter. He was giving some good inside uppercuts and things like that.”
While Rios looked sluggish, he stalked Garcia and landed some good right hands and counters but Garcia was faster with his combinations in the early rounds.
The action picked up in the middle rounds with Garcia landing hooks and Rios responding with pressure and body shots.
“I felt good,” said Garcia. “I was prepared and I came to box and bang.”
Garcia landed a hard counter right hand that sent Rios to the canvas in the ninth. Rios got up but staggered as he walked towards referee Kenny Bayless who stopped the fight.
“I just let the straight right hand go,” said Garcia. “I was using lateral movement and I took the fight to the middle.”
Rios was upset the fight was stopped and said he wanted to continue.
“I got lazy with my jab and he got me,” said Rios. “I’m a warrior and I got up. I’m ready to continue but I guess the corner stops it but I’m f**king mad. I know they love me and everything but I got up fine. They can stop it when I’m f—-ing dying. I’ll die in that ring. That’s where I’m mad. I’m mad because I got up.”
Garcia said it was tough after his loss to Keith Thurman.
“I took the loss like a true champ and I bounced back like a champ,” said Garcia.
All photos by Stephanie Trapp/Showtime