CARSON, Calif. — Junior lightweight Ryan “Kingry” Garcia, the 2017 ESPN.com prospect of the year and a fighter many view as a future star, toyed with Jayson Velez, by far the best opponent of his career, for a lopsided unanimous decision on Friday night.
With a crowd of 6,625 at the StubHub Center cheering his every move, Garcia had no issues in cruising past former featherweight world title challenger Velez in the main event of a Golden Boy Boxing on ESPN card.
All three judges scored the fight 99-91. ESPN scored the fight 100-90 for Garcia.
Garcia went past the eighth round for the first time in his career, something his handlers at Golden Boy were not all upset by because they wanted their No. 1 prospect to get in rounds against an opponent who had never been stopped.
“I was nervous,” Golden Boy matchmaker Robert Diaz said. “If Ryan would have lost tonight, they would say Golden Boy moved him too quickly. If he knocked him out in the first round, they say they put him in with a bum. They forget he’s 19 years old. I knew Velez couldn’t get knocked out in one or two rounds, and [Garcia] goes the distance — it’s great because it’s valuable experience. He went 10 rounds and he didn’t get tired, and he learned a lot.”
Garcia was surprised Velez stood up to his clean punches, but felt he learned a lot from going 10 rounds for the first time.
“It was crazy because it was the first time I’ve experienced somebody taking my shots,” Garcia said. “But he helped me learn. He’s a hell of a fighter. I need to keep stepping it up, keep learning. We got the victory and I need to keep doing what we do.”
Garcia, who made $25,000 to Velez’s $50,000, connected with a combination that stunned Velez in the second round. He generally had his way with the shorter, smaller Velez, whose punches didn’t seem to faze him.
Garcia (15-0, 13 KOs), 19, of Victorville, California, meantime, moved Velez often with his hard right hands and was effective with his right uppercut.
He staggered Velez (26-5-1, 18 KOs), 30, of Puerto Rico, again in the fifth round with a hard right hand to the head as Velez had no answers for anything. Garcia continued to inflict damage round after round, though Velez never seemed in danger of getting knocked down or stopped.
“In the first round when I was cracking him, his legs wobbled, but he’s a durable guy. It was crazy, but there’s nothing you can do,” Garcia said. “I felt like I could have gotten him out of there if I went to the body more.”
Velez, who was coming off a 12th-round knockout of countryman and faded former two-division titlist Juan Manuel Lopez on March 3, had a three-fight winning streak end. Velez was impressed with Garcia.
“I didn’t think he would last with me, but I was proven wrong,” Velez said. “He needs a little more experience, but he’s going to be big. He moves well, and was able to keep up with me. He’s a great opponent, and we put on a great show. I’m proud of what we did here.”
Massive mismatch: O’Sullivan pounds Abreu
Middleweight Gary “Spike” O’Sullivan, who elected not to accept an offer to challenge unified middleweight world champion Gennady Golovkin on Saturday night, also at the Stub Hub Center, instead pummeled Berlin Abreu in a massive mismatch in the co-feature.
O’Sullivan brutalized him round after round until Abreu quit on his stool after the third round.
“A pretty easy time, but he carried power,” O’Sullivan said. “It would be devastating to lose for my career, so I was careful in there.”
Abreu (14-2, 11 KOs), 26, of the Dominican Republic, was no match for O’Sullivan, who laid a beating on the welterweight who was moving up two weight divisions. Abreu lost the only other time he stepped up in competition level when Sammy Vasquez stopped him in the fourth round in 2014. O’Sullivan had little to worry about.
He lashed Abreu round after round as he offered little and spent long stretches covering up. In the third round, O’Sullivan hammered with a heavy right hand that snapped his head back. Later in the round, Abreu spit out his mouthpiece to catch a breather while it was replaced and he was warned by referee Gerard White. After the round, he retired on his stool.
“He could punch, and caught me with a couple of good ones,” O’Sullivan said. “I came to do my job, and that was get the win. This win doesn’t compare to what’s waiting for me. I’m waiting for my next big stage. Who knows? You might see me on the next major Mexican holiday weekend (in September).”
When Canelo Alvarez failed two drug tests and his rematch with Golovkin scheduled for Saturday was canceled, O’Sullivan (28-2, 20 KOs), 33, of Ireland, campaigned hard to get the late assignment. When he was offered the fight for $400,000, by far a career high, he turned it down because new co-promoter Golden Boy had an unidentified game plan for him.
That plan began with the fight against Abreu for a $20,000 purse to Abreu’s $15,000. However, he said he signed a four-fight deal with Golden Boy that can earn him much more than he would have made against GGG, who would have been heavily favored.
“Golden Boy offered the opportunity to make a fair amount of money instead of the GGG fight,” said O’Sullivan, who won his sixth fight in a row following a seventh-round knockout loss to Chris Eubank Jr. in December 2012. “It was my dream fight to fight GGG and maybe it can still happen, but I am very thankful to Golden Boy. They made me a fantastic offer to make more money.”