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Ryan Garcia looks lackluster against Carlos Morales

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By Dan Ambrose: Lightweight prospect Ryan ‘Kingry’ Garcia put in a less than stellar performance last Saturday night in beating Carlos Morales by a 10 round majority decision in what turned out to be a difficult fight for him. Garcia (16-0, 13 KOs) got the nod on the scorecards in beating Morales (17-3-3, 6 KOs) by the sores 98-92, 95-95 and 98-92. The 95-95 score was the best of those three. The two 98-92 scores for Garcia seemed ridiculously wide for the fight that transpired inside the ring. However, Garcia was the main attraction in this headliner fight, so that may have factored into the scoring. The scorecard was too wide in Garcia’s favor. The fans showed their displeasure with the two wide scorecards from the judges by booing the decision. Garcia had clearly failed to please his many fans that had come to see him compete.

Morales was clearly upset with the amount of holding and movement that Garcia was using in the fight. In the early going, Morales twice shoved Garcia to the canvas out of frustration of being held. Morales was warned by the referee Thomas Taylor about this. The referee failed to warn Garcia about his constant holding. That’s something that should have been addressed because Garcia was gaming the system by using his nonstop holding to keep Morales from throwing punches.

The Garcia-Morales fight was streamed on Facebook Watch at the Fantasy Springs Resort Casino in Indio, California. There was a sizable crowd of pro-Garcia boxing fans rooting him on in this Golden Boy Fight Night card, but unfortunately the young Garcia wasn’t able to give them much to cheer about due to his poor conditioning and inability to stand and fight. The 20-year-old Garcia spent much of the fight holding Morales and looking at the time clock to see how much time was left in the rounds. Garcia was tired from the early rounds, and fighting with his hands down by his sides and his mouth wide open taking huge gulps of air. It wasn’t a good look by the young Garcia.

A huge crowd of Garcia supporters turned out in mass to see him fight against Morales. However, they spent most of the fight silent with nothing to cheer about due to Garcia’s performance. The boxing fans wanted to see Garcia throwing punches and taking the fight to Morales. What they saw instead was Garcia running from Morales, holding and fighting hard on rare occasions.

For the most part, Garcia’s offense was limited to single pot shots. When Garcia would land one of his pot shots, he would look good, but he rarely followed that up with anything significant. Instead of Garcia hitting Morales with a follow-up punch, he would retreat and then quickly hold him when he got near enough to throw a punch. It was pure spoiling from Garcia did not look impressive. Garcia came into the fight with a ton of hype surrounding his young career. A lot of boxing fans see Garcia as a young version of Oscar De La Hoya. However, the two of them have nothing in common. When De La Hoya was 20-years-old in 1993, he was an impressive offensive dynamo. With his blazing hand speed, huge power and his combination punching, De La Hoya could do it all. De La Hoya’s game was already fully developed when he turned pro in 1992 after winning an Olympic gold medal for the United States in Barcelona, Spain. De La Hoya was light years ahead of Ryan Garcia with his fundamentals when he turned pro at age 19. It’s likely going to take Garcia years to get to where De La Hoya was when he was 20-year-old, and based on what we saw of ‘Kingry’ last night against Morales, I seriously doubt that he’ll ever be even remotely as good as Oscar was.

Garcia admits that he didn’t agree with the scorecards, which had him winning by a lopsided decision on the scorecards of two of the judges.

“Much respect to Carlos Morales. I felt the fight was closer than the scorecards say,” Garcia said. “He did a great job. I give all my respect to him. It was a great fight.”

I wouldn’t call it a great fight. It wasn’t the most entertaining match due to the movement and constant holding from Garcia. It could have been a great fight if Garcia had been stationary more and not held as often, but the might have been knocked out if he stood his ground and fought Morales instead of spoiling all night with his holding and running. Garcia can’t afford to be viewed as a fighter who is given decisions that he didn’t deserve, because that’ll eventually hurt his popularity with the boxing fans. To become a huge star with U.S boxing fans, Garcia can’t be seen as a pampered fighter that is given victories in fights that he failed to win.

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The first five rounds were controlled by Garcia with his pot shots and short bursts of energy. At times, Garcia would attack Morales with a short burst of punches, but then he would quickly gas out and spend the rest of the round moving laterally around the ring, holding and throwing single pot shots. Morales got the better of Garcia in round 1, but then he was beaten to the punch in rounds 2, 3, 4, 6 and 6.

Morales took over the fight and dominated the action in rounds 7, 8, 9 and 10. With the 1st round appearing to go to Morales, he did enough to get a draw in this writer’s scorecards. However, Morales needed to do more than just fight a popular prospect like Garcia to a standstill to get a draw. He needed to batter him and make it such a dominant performance that the two judges that scored it 98-92 for Garcia wouldn’t have any choice but to give him a draw. Those two turned in odd scoring that was similar to the judge that scored the Saul Canelo Alvarez vs. Gennady Golovkin fight 118-110 for Canelo. It wasn’t a realistic scorecard that reflected what took place inside the ring on the night. Likewise, the two judges that scored it 98-92 for Ryan Garcia turned equally bizarre scorecards. It’s not good for Garcia’s development to have judges giving him wins in fights where he should have been given a draw, because it keeps him from seeing how poor he was. Garcia showed last night that he’s not a better fighter than the unranked Carlos Morales. He’s on the same level as him, which is not a good thing him due to his world title ambitions. Garcia didn’t look like a future world champion last night against Morales. Garcia didn’t even look like a bottom feeder #15 ranked contender. He looked more like a 2nd tier journeymen level fighter.

Morales hurt Garcia with hard jab to the head in round 7. The shot had Garcia holding on and looking weak in the knees. For the remaining 2 minutes of the 7th, Garcia held Morales frequently. Clearly frustrated with Garcia’s holding, which wasn’t addressed by the referee, Morales continued to throw shots while being held. It wasn’t easy though, as Garcia was like human glue with the way he was sticking to Morales to keep him from having room to throw shots.

Garcia showed a number of glaring flaws in the fight that will make it extremely difficult for him to progress to the next level. The flaws are as follows: Poor stamina, backing straight up when attacked, using his ring movement as his main line of defense, standing straight up, leaky defense, clinching too much, not standing and fighting, and weak punching power. Whether Garcia can improve in those areas is the important question. Some of those areas likely will be resistant of change. As a whole, Garcia is not ready to move to the next level to mix it up with the top lightweights in the division. Carlos Morales is an un-ranked super featherweight, and he was able to fight Garcia to what should have been a draw.

If Garcia had fought a young lightweight contender like Teofimo Lopez or light welterweight Ryan Martin, he likely would have been knocked out by both of them. The Brooklyn native Lopez (10-0, 8 KOs) is only one-year old than Ryan at 21-years-old, and yet he looks far ahead of him in terms of development. That’s obviously a training issue that Garcia needs to address. A new training team should be the first thing on Garcia’s agenda after his lackluster performance against Morales. Ryan Martin (22-0, 12 KOs) is another young talent that is far beyond Garcia with his development and punching power. Garcia isn’t ready for a fighter like Martin, who is competing in the upcoming World Boxing Super Series 140 pound tournament. Martin is fighting at a higher weight division than Garcia, but he’s young and looking like a much more finished product.

Morales was frustrated with the constant holding that Garcia was doing throughout the fight. The referee did nothing to warn Garcia to stop holding, so he kept it up the entire fight and it clearly had a significant impact on the fight. From the early rounds, Garcia exhausted from the pressure that Morales was putting on him. The only way that Garcia could try and slow down the pressure from Morales was to grab him in a clinch.

“He was holding too much,” Morales said after the fight in complaining about the holding that Ryan was using to stall out the rounds. “Overall, I feel I gave a good performance. He was a tough opponent. He’s young and fast. He has some pop, but he doesn’t hit that hard. I felt I won the fight.”

Morales didn’t appear to do enough to win the fight, but he did look to have done enough to rate a draw. It was a close fight between two fighters that were so evenly matched that it was impossible to pick a winner unless you were one of the two judges that turned in a pair of lopsided 98-92 scores in favor of Golden Boy star Garcia.

The 28-year-old Morales connected on 93 of 451 shots for a 21% connect percentage, according to CompuBox stats. For his part, the Golden Boy promoted Ryan Garcia landed 142 of 382 shots for a 37 percent connect percentage. Morales was the busier of the two, but Garcia landed with the better percentage.

“I just felt like I was a little winded. I admit it,” Ryan Garcia said. “He was coming to fight, so we were fighting.”

Garcia saying he was a “little winded” is an understatement to the extreme. He was exhausted, and unable to fight hard for any length of time. This was a fight that could have been easily won by Garcia if he was in good enough shape to take the fight to Morales with sustained flurries of punches. If Garcia had the stamina to jump on Morales with Aaron Pryor type of attack, he would have likely knocked him out in the first four rounds. Morales is a 2nd tier fighter, and not a top contender. This was the type of opponent that Garcia should have wiped out if he was a fighter that is going somewhere in the lightweight division, but clearly he couldn’t get the job done. That has to be a concern for Golden Boy, because they’re investing in Garcia in hopes that they can turn him into a star. What we saw last night from Garcia was a very flawed fighter who may not even make it to the fringe level of the lightweight division. Garcia doesn’t look like he has the right ingredients to ever be a world champion. He may continue to be a popular social media star, but he doesn’t appear to have the right fundamentals in his game for him to be a star in boxing.

After the way that Garcia fought against Morales, it’s important that Golden Boy consider putting them back in the ring for a rematch. Garcia can’t walk away from his controversial 12 round majority decision without fighting Morales a second time to clear up the controversy surrounding the decision. More importantly, it would be a mistake for Golden Boy Promotions to put Garcia in with a better opponent than Morales, because he would likely lose. Garcia has to show that he can improve his game enough to defeat a fighter on Morales’ level without controversy before he can move up against better fighters like Teofima Lopez, Devin Haney, Ryan Martin and Luke Campbell. All those guys beat Garcia right now. Haney (19-0, 13 KOs) is only 19-years-old, and he’s looking a lot better than Garcia. Haney isn’t the social media star that Garcia is, but he’s the better fighter in the sport by a long shot. Garcia lost to Haney twice during his amateur career in 2014 and 2015 in the Youth National Championships.

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