Ryan Garcia stays undefeated against Carlos Morales, but barely

Photo Credit: Tom Hogan-Hogan photos/Golden Boy Promotions
Photo Credit: Tom Hogan-Hogan photos/Golden Boy Promotions /

Ryan Garcia defeated Carlos Morales by majority decision, but it was far from easy. Morales gave Garcia everything he could handle.

On paper, Carlos Morales (17-3-3, 6 KOs) shouldn’t have given undefeated Ryan Garcia (16-0, 13 KOs) any problems, but that wasn’t the case on Saturday, Sept. 1. Morales closed the fight well and gave Garcia a much harder time than expected.

Coming into the fight, Morales had no notable wins. He lasted a full 10 rounds against Alberto Machado in 2017, but his résumé is sparse when it comes to real contenders. Morales was selected as Garcia’s opponent because he was supposed to be safe but possesses a good enough chin to go the distance. Morales has never been knocked out in his six-year professional boxing career.

Garcia, on the other hand, is a rising marketable prospect for Golden Boy Promotions. Garcia was an elite amateur who has an abundance of talent and good looks to match. He just turned 20 years old, which means he has time to grow as a boxer. His performance against Morales proved he needs that time to refine his game.

Garcia controlled the first six rounds of the fight, but he wasn’t dominant. Garcia’s hand speed impressed, but he had a hard time landing combinations on Morales. Morales is more of a brawler than a boxer, but he’s tough. He pressed forward for the majority of the fight and had Garcia fighting off his back foot. It wasn’t an ideal scenario for Garcia.

Garcia had moments early where he surged forward and delivered powerful left hooks and right leads, but Morales ate his punches well. Morales landed less often, but he invested punches to Garcia’s body. They paid dividends later in the fight.

Morales’s roughhouse tactics offered Garcia a new obstacle in his young career. Morales threw Garcia to the ground late in Round 2. He also peppered Garcia with rabbit punches in the clinch throughout the entire fight. Morales’s illegal moves drew warnings from the referee, but they also made Garcia uncomfortable. Garcia might have been impacted psychologically as well.

Garcia cut Morales on the bridge of the nose and over his right eye, but Morales was unphased. He continually applied pressure to Garcia and wore him down over time. It was a smart move.

Garcia wobbled Morales in Round 6 with a left hook. He jumped on Morales for the last minute of the sixth and tried to do more damage, but Morales absorbed his punches. If anything, Garica’s assault woke Morales up.

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Morales hurt Garcia in the seventh with a straight jab. It was a bad look for Garcia. He was staggered by a jab from a boxer who only has a 26 percent KO rating. The momentum shifted to Morales. He bullied Garcia around the ring for the remainder of the bout.

Down the stretch, Garcia looked exhausted. He regularly peered at the fight clock, hoping that the seconds would roll down faster than nature could allow.  Garcia survived the end of the bout instead of trying to mount an offensive.

When the scorecards were read, Garcia won by a majority decision. The scores were 95-95, and two cards of 98-92 for Garcia. Something between the two extremes would’ve been more appropriate.

While giving a post-fight interview in the ring, Garcia seemed shaken and slightly embarrassed as he admitted he was fatigued towards the end of the fight and that the scores were too wide. He was refreshingly honest about his performance.

Hopefully, Garcia will use this fight as a learning experience and mature as a fighter. He won the contest, but it was a setback to his reputation. Morales exposed Garcia’s defensive and conditioning imperfections.

The fight took place at the lightweight limit, but most of Garcia’s bouts have been as a super featherweight. He might want to move back down.

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Over the last several months, Garcia’s engaged in harsh social media exchanges with Gervonta Davis. His latest performance proves he’s not ready for Davis or any other boxer near Davis’s caliber. Garcia has an excess of potential, but he needs a lot more work if he ever wants it to be realized.