Garcia and Hurd Victorious in Swiftly Decided Bouts in Brooklyn; Fulton Arrives at Super Bantam
Former two-division champion Danny Garcia outclasses Ivan Redkach to earn wide unanimous decision at Barclays Center
Former unified Super Welterweight champion Jarrett Hurd drops Francisco Santana in the 10th of return bout to punctuate dominant decision-win
Philadelphia’s Stephen Fulton takes seventh “0” with decisive win over Arnold Khegai in Showtime debut
BROOKLYN (January 25, 2020) — On a winter evening full of televised fights without any real semblance of mystery the expectation of explosive conclusions becomes an unwritten part of the script. Very little consideration is given to any extenuating circumstances – a deadly car wreck, a shoulder injury, an ugly upset loss, the loss of a longtime head trainer.
Last night at Barclays Center former champions Danny “Swift” Garcia and “Swift” Jarrett Hurd were supposed to execute their respective opponents. Showtime Boxing’s role was to make those executions as public as possible. Garcia and Hurd prevailed but Ivan Redkach and Francisco Santana didn’t learn their lines. Both finished the bouts on their feet.
Super Bantamweight Stephen Fulton skillfully boxed and punched his way to a lopsided win over ShoBox: The New Generation alum Arnold Khegai. He represents a new slick talent for Showtime to attach to its future programming, after adding the WBO Inter-Continental title to his lesser-recognized IBO title. Fulton’s affiliation with Premier Boxing Champion (PBC) ensures he has meaningful future dates with a couple of other players at 122-pounds.
Garcia was originally slated to face unified Welterweight champion Errol Spence Jr. Unfortunately, Spence was ejected from his Ferrari in an single car accident shortly after he defeated Shawn Porter in September. Redkach became the replacement, and Garcia’s bid for a third title turned into a WBC Welterweight Title eliminator. After a promising first round Garcia was responsible for all of the eliminating.
Redkach opened the bout confident working his right jab from his southpaw stance, finding some success with his left hand to Garcia’s body in the first stanza. Garcia leaned forward and touched Redkach’s body in round two. Redkach’s aggression quickly waned in the third round, and Garcia started to gradually seize control of the fight over the next two rounds.
Into the fifth round Garcia began landing the meaningful punches in the short exchanges as Redkach watched and waited. Redkach tried to re-establish his own ground by the end of the fifth, but Garcia had assumed tactical control of the action.
Garcia dominated the action in the seventh round with his right hand. He landed a crisp right uppercut, a thudding right to Redkach’s body as well as a catch and shoot sequence that ended with the right hand. At the close of the round Redkach walked away towards his corner bloodied.
The Philadelphia native unleashed his combination punching in the eighth round. Redkach started bluffing and taunting Garcia in response, but he continued to struggle to put together anything significant offensively. Garcia relentlessly battered Redkach with a varied attack in round nine. Very little of his moves failed to work, and when they did Redkach was unable to make him pay.
Redkach moved forward over stretches of the 10th, 11th and 12th rounds but he never truly threatened Garcia. Garcia shut down his heavier shots assured of the final outcome which was eventually confirmed with cards of 118-110 and 117-111 twice.
Hurd’s Ways Now Bigger Than His Wins?
In the co-main event, Hurd faced a tough predicament. The former unified champion needed to live up to the exciting fighter who started to garner pound-for-pound status in early 2019. After defeating the Super Welterweight division’s longest reigning champion, Erislandy Lara, in April 2018 in a Fight of the Year caliber bout, Hurd’s bright future was dimmed by Julian Williams in May 2019 – in another FOtY showdown. Hurd lost his titles, his undefeated status, and his gym along with his longtime trainer.
A win over Santana was the first step in regaining all that could be reclaimed by the 29-year old. The larger problem of the night was the “how” more so than Santana. This was a stark contrast to the longer, lunging jab Hurd relied on to stalk previous opponents while comprising both his defensive options and ability to add in follow-up shots.
Santana remained committed to forcing the issue, but his offense was ultimately unable to drastically change the story lines of the fight. The basis of Hurd’s new-look defense was mostly the same – he stood with his left shoulder rolled and his right glove barred alongside his face. The subtle changes were being mindful of his positioning, constantly moving backwards out of range and increased upper body movement. With his feet better positioned he was able to counter Santana better.
The Barclays Center crowd grew increasingly impatient with Hurd’s new tactics heavily influenced with caution, and intermittent booing ensued as the back and forth became repetitive.
Hurd’s movement disappeared as he unloaded power punches in rounds five and six, and the action moved to the center of the ring for most of the seventh. Both fighters let their hands go but neither went on a sustained attack. Hurd operated from the back foot again to open the eighth round. He appeared to lay back to catch Santana cleanly with a big shot – in either a left hook or his right uppercut.
Santana punched in between Hurd’s wider shots as both men stood in the pocket. The smaller fighter’s power punches had little lasting or accumulative effect, and Hurd defended the shots to the approval of new trainer Kay Korama. Hurd eventually gave in to his penchant for late excitement in fights, and finally dropped Santana in the 10th final round after landing a series of booming left hooks with a finishing right uppercut. The onslaught occurred in the bout’s final moments and Hurd ran out of time to pursue the stoppage. He accomplished the objective of winning – while still adhering to the demands of Korama – and expressed his satisfaction in earning scores of 97-92, 99-90 and 99-90 again.
Stephen Fulton Showcases His Charisma and Potential
A couple of weeks ago during Claressa Shields’ Special Edition card, undefeated Super Bantamweight Stephen “Cool Boy Steph” Fulton joined Brian Custer at the Showtime desk during a break in the action. The lighthearted conversation was a well-placed introduction of Fulton to the network’s audience. After all, with several of the PBC’s bigger attractions fighting on Fox Sports’ dates, Showtime needs to quickly identify new talent to aid in luring viewers to its 2020 dates. Fulton possesses some appeal, but he’s relatively unknown and fights several divisions south of boxing’s most popular divisions – just above or below the Welterweight division’s 147-pound weight limit.
With Garcia and Hurd both strategically operating on de facto light limited duty, to preserve future marquee bouts, Fulton’s bout served as an opportunity to inset himself as one of Showtime’s fighters to watch. After multiple wins on Showtime’s proving grounds series ShoBox, fellow Philadelphia product Arnold Khegai presented all vested parties with a credible test to determine the best ways to move forward with Fulton.
Fulton capitalized on his opportunity! And he did so in handily fashion.
Fulton is a slick, skilled boxer from an American city renowned for its fighters who has stopped, or at least dropped, each of his last three opponents. Khegai comes from a martial arts background, he’s aggressive and moves forward looking to bang.
Khegai teed off on Fulton’s body with a short combination for his first contact in the opening round. Fulton’s footwork, jab and reflexes allowed the rising prospect to maintain his desired range through the first minute. Fulton responded to Khegai’s body work with a sharp left hook to the side of Khegai’s head.
The clash of styles continued into the second and third frames. Fulton worked his jab, stayed sharp with his movement, and remained focused on out-maneuvering Khegai while landing scoring blows. Khegai remained committed to his jab to Fulton’s body to initiate his offense. Even into the fourth and fifth rounds where Khegai couldn’t freely attack Fulton, he used a combination of anticipation and positioning to be able to get to Fulton in spots. By the fifth round Khegai’s left eye started to show damage from Fulton’s timely punching.
Fulton found some rhythm with his offense over the first half of round six. Khegai landed a lunging left hook around the 1:00 mark as Fulton backed into a corner.
Fulton worked his jab to open round seven before mixing in an attack to Khegai’s body which set up his most effective head shots to that stage of the fight. He controlled the action in the center of the ring. Khegai was most effective in the corners and along the ropes.
Into the eighth Fulton continued to create his offense more easily, openings for solid shots became increasingly rare for Khegai. The Ukrainian born steadily became more frustrated with his inability to create the types of exchanges where he could enhance his ability to win the fight.
The fight’s action remained the same into the 11th round where Khegai attacked fiercely through most of the round – with varying levels of success. He remained determined, mixed in some tactics to draw Fulton into stand-still fire fight, but never seized control of the fight. After a solid display of an array of boxing skills Fulton added the WBO Inter-Continental titles to his resume behind wide scorecards of 117-111 twice, and then 116-112.
The reception of boxing’s fans towards Showtime’s second card of 2020 – after quickly sifting through social media for 5-10 minutes – appears to be dismal. Moreover, the premium cable network’s reasonable explanations for its lackluster line-up, over the last 12 months, are mainly being disregarded as excuses. Whether or not this Garcia and Hurd headlined card can stave off, or expedite, the reading of the last rites for the future of the network’s boxing programming is still unknown. Showtime’s continued commitment to women’s boxing, investment in new faces such as Fulton and the cachet of its fight night broadcast should have fans hoping they right the ship in 2020 – versus writing them off as home for boxing in 2021. Unfortunately, the reality for Showtime is similar to the challenge faced by all of its fighters. They’re all judged by only how good they were in their last fight.
All photos by Amanda Westcott/Showtime Boxing