Ryan Garcia Overwhelmed Tagoe In Easy Decision Win
Welcome back, Ryan Garcia.
The lightweight star may not have gotten the knockout he and most everybody expected, but he ran roughshod over Emmanuel Tagoe in a one-sided bout in which Tagoe spent more time fleeing from him than fighting on Saturday night.
Garcia, returning from a turbulent 15-month layoff, won a dominating unanimous decision — 119-108, 119-108 and 118-109 — in their fight contracted at 139 pounds before a crowd of 14, 495 in the main event of the Golden Boy Promotions card on DAZN at the Alamodome in San Antonio.
— Golden Boy (@GoldenBoyBoxing) April 10, 2022
The fight was Garcia’s first since got up from the only knockdown of his career for a highlight-reel seventh-round knockout of Luke Campbell in January 2021. That win had Garcia poised for big business but then came the problems.
First, Garcia very publicly dealt with mental health issues that caused him to pull out of a July fight with Javier Fortuna in order to seek therapy. Then, when he was ready to return to face Golden Boy stablemate Joseph Diaz Jr. in November, he again was forced to withdraw, this time because of a right wrist/hand injury that requited surgery.
And in February, Garcia began working with trainer Joe Goossen after a split with reigning trainer of the year Eddy Reynoso and a public spat with big brother figure Canelo Alvarez, the pound-for-pound king and Reynoso’s top fighter. He put all of that behind him for his return against Ghana’s Tagoe, who was fighting in the United States for the second time in a row and for the first time since November 2020.
While Garcia pressed forward, fired his quick hands in combination and went for the knockout time and again, Tagoe was the opposite. He spent virtually the whole fight backing up, sliding along the ropes, clinching and doing anything he could simply to survive.
“I got nothing but respect for Tagoe,” Garcia said. “He fought a hard fight. He was making it a little difficult for me to hit him. I hit him with some shots and he was crafty with the holding. I was trying to get him off me. He was moving a lot. I ain’t gonna lie. It’s a new experience. I got to cut the ring off a little better with a guy that’s just gonna keep moving all 12 rounds.”
Garcia’s biggest moment came in the second round when he landed a pair of right hands, one to the side of the head and one to Tagoe’s face, to knock him down. He became even more defensive after the knockdown.
“He’s very slippery so what can I do? I have to walk him down and he’s not going to engage and give me anything to counter,” Garcia said. “I was turning him with a lot of uppercuts in the beginning and he didn’t want none of that so he got the move on.”
Tagoe was in utter survival mode but Garcia managed to get in a few short right hands that rocked him in the third round. He also mixed in a few body shots.
Round after round, it was the same: Garcia applying constant pressure and Tagoe running away or trying to hold. He finally stepped forward briefly in the ninth round and landed a couple of wild right hands but Garcia was walked through them.
“I think if I would have started pressing him harder in the beginning I would have gotten him out of there,” Garcia said. “But what can I say? It was a track down fight. I had to track him down. It’s a new experience cutting the ring off with guy that’s gonna fight to survive.”
In the 10th round, Garcia landed a huge right hand that rocked Tagoe and nearly dropped him between the ropes. Referee John Schorle could have called it a knockdown because the ropes kept Tagoe upright, but he did not.
“I went for it. What can I say? I tried to knock him out,” Garcia said “I caught him with a super good right hand. Boom, right between his shots and he was really hurt. But I couldn’t find the next shot. But it’s OK I’ll learn more and I know I got a lot in me.”
Garcia (22-0, 18 KOs), 23, of Victorville, California, went past 10 rounds for the first time but did not seem at all winded at the final bell. Tagoe (32-2, 15 KOs), 33, had not lost since his 2004 professional debut.
According to CompuBox statistics, Garcia landed 165 of 569 punches (29 percent) and Tagoe landed just 90 of 391 (23 percent). Garcia outlanded him in every round and limited him to single-digit connects in nine of the 12 rounds.
Despite the lack of a knockout, Garcia said he was very comfortable with Goossen in the corner and that his surgically repaired right hand held up well.
“I was super comfortable with him. I love Joe,” Garcia said. “We were very comfortable in the ring and we have a great relationship and I got nothing but love with him. He’s jut the best guy.”
As for his hand, “(It felt) good. I kept throwing it. It’s probably a little bruised right now but it’s all good.”
Now, a distance fight to help him shake off the rust of the layoff, Garcia is position for any number of major lightweight fights. He has regularly called out secondary titleholder Gervonta “Tank” Davis, who is the biggest name in the division other than Garcia. He fights Rolando Romero on May 28 and there has been talk of a possible showdown later in the year.
Garcia is usually quick with calling out future opponents, but not on this night.
“In the past I’m always with the callouts, but I’ve grown and I’m gonna let my team handle it,” Garcia said. “When it’s on, it’s on. But as of right now I’m gonna trust my team and we’re gonna move forward.
“I know it’s fun (calling opponents out) but it’s unrealistic. I don’t want to lie to the fans. I think that’s happened enough. It is what it is. When we fight, we fight.”