The return of Ryan Garcia fell short of the expectations many had placed on his shoulders.
‘KingRy’ had a 15-month layoff due to mental health issues and injury after a career high against Luke Campbell last year. In San Antonio last night the Californian was supposed to light up the Alamodome against Emmanuel Tagoe. What played out was a frustrating 12-round points win for the lightweight contender (22-0, 18 KOs).
In round 2 Garcia and new trainer Joe Goossen would have been thrilled to see Tagoe (32-2, 15 KOs) go down. This was in the comeback script. A right cross bamboozled the Ghanaian who attempted to cling on. Garcia landed one to the temple before another right hand dropped Tagoe. The 33-year-old as he did for 99% of the fight survived and got to his stool to look ahead to round 3.
Having had his chin too high for the first six minutes Garcia decided to retain a high guard in the third despite dropping Tagoe. Body attacks began to test Tagoe’s resolve but like the majority of the 36 minutes we were treated to highlight reel moments from Garcia. It never felt like enough and as the fight wore on you sensed Tagoe become more comfortable with the power and content to take one of boxing’s superstars the full distance.
Trying to pick out moments of success for Tagoe was a near pointless exercise. A one-two on the front foot in the 5th, a left hand from his launchpad in the 7th and some ambition late on was as good as it got.
Garcia, as he has done in the past, neglected his jab and relied on power. His screaming fans were out in force for crash, bang, wallop not the sweet science. In the 10th the stoppage looked on the cards. The Garcia spark returned. A right hand turned Tagoe’s body loose and his legs relying on instinct. Tagoe once again hung on despite being nailed with some chopping punches as Garcia tried to close the show.
Rounds 11 and 12 were more attack against defence with Tagoe offering himself as an exercise in the gym rather than an opponent looking to cause an upset.
Positives can be spun if you choose to. He looked good at distance. Garcia got 12 rounds under his belt for the first time ever. It was his debut with new trainer Joe Goossen. And he returned after time away. However, the latter can be attributed to so many fighters in the current climate. The fact is Garcia and Goossen wouldn’t have expected Tagoe to last four rounds let alone 12.
This was billed as the return of a king but on this performance, he is a long way off the throne of the lightweight division.