For many, July 29, 2023 will be the date Terence Crawford was crowned the undisputed welterweight champion with a ninth round TKO win over Errol Spence Jr. The fight had been discussed for years and was at the top of many fight fans wish list. Not only did they get to witness it on Saturday night, they saw Crawford dominate and arguably cement himself as the best fighter in the world (with all due respect to Naoya Inoue). However, there was another fighter on the PPV who deserves the attention of fight fans for his impressive performance that night. That man is Yoenis Tellez (6-0, 5 KOs).
Tellez was not originally going to fight on this card. At the time of writing, his profile on BoxRec still shows him scheduled to face Johan Gonzalez on August 26 in Tacoma, Washington, USA. Super welterweight prospect Jesus Ramos Jr. was to take on Sergio Garcia (34-3, 14 KOs) on the Spence-Crawford PPV. With less than a month to go before fight night, Ramos withdrew from the card due to a hand injury. As a result, Tellez received the call to open the PPV against Garcia.
Some may recall Garcia from his victory over Ted Cheeseman in 2019. Others may know him from losses to Sebastian Fundora in 2021 and to Tony Harrison in 2022. One thing that is for certain, however, it that Garcia is an experienced, durable operator at 154. Going into the fight, Garcia had 36 professional bouts to his name compared to Tellez’s five. In the end, that did not matter.
Tellez becomes first to stop Garcia
Such was the confidence of Tellez’s team that they readily accepted to face Garcia less than a month’s notice. Add to that the fact that Garcia is seen as a fringe contender at super welterweight and that the fight took place on the undercard of one of the most anticipated fights in recent years. Tellez had never fought on a stage like this against an opponent like Garcia. In fact, Tellez had never faced an opponent with a winning record as a professional.
Early in the bout, Garcia pressed forward and tried to land power shots on the inside. He explained post-fight that the goal was to tire Tellez down. Over the first two rounds, Tellez appeared flustered but had some success, landing shots from distance.
All that changed when Tellez landed a right-left combination that nearly had Garcia seated on the canvas in round three. Tellez was ready when Garcia got back up, landing a straight right that knocked his opponent down. Garcia got up and beat the count. A barrage of power shots from Tellez forced referee Robert Hoyle to wave off the fight. The time of stoppage was 2:02.
“My trainer Ronnie Shields and my whole team behind me – we worked on this during training camp, especially the right hand, and it came out just the way it was supposed to come out,” said Tellez after the fight.
With the win, Tellez announced himself as a prospect to watch. At only 23 years of age, the Cuban super welterweight has a promising career ahead of him should he continue to make the most of such opportunities. Fight fans will want to keep an eye on his progress going forward.