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Garcia gets back on track with 8th-round KO of Duarte

Cris Esqueda/Golden Boy / Getty Images Sport / Getty

Ryan Garcia, one of the brightest young stars in boxing, is back in the win column.

Garcia knocked out Oscar Duarte at the 2:51 mark of the eighth round in a 143-pound catchweight bout in Houston on Saturday. The non-title fight served as a DAZN main event.

Garcia hurt - and eventually knocked down - Duarte with a barrage of punches against the ropes. Duarte seemed OK but didn't beat the referee's count.

With the victory, Garcia, 25, is back on track after suffering the first loss of his professional career in an April superfight against Gervonta "Tank" Davis. Garcia lost to Davis via seventh-round knockout.

Heading into the eighth round Saturday night, Garcia was ahead of Duarte by scores of 68-65, 68-65, and 69-64. Two judges gave Duarte the fifth and sixth rounds.

It hadn't been an easy comeback fight for Garcia prior to the finish. Duarte proved to be a fairly steep test and remained competitive throughout seven rounds. Garcia edged Duarte 70-69 in total punches landed, while Duarte led in power punches landed 62-55.

"He is a strong fighter," Garcia said of Duarte in his postfight interview. "He took a good punch. He's a Mexican fighter like me. You're tough. I hit him with some hard shots, and he just kept coming. It was tough. It was very tough."

After the win, Garcia called for a title shot against WBA super lightweight champion Rolando Romero. The California native of Mexican heritage also mentioned Devin Haney and Teofimo Lopez as future opponents he's interested in.

"We're going to build off this, and we're just gonna get better," Garcia said. "I told you: I'm committing to becoming a world champion."

Garcia, the former WBC interim lightweight champ, plans to fight at super lightweight after recently bouncing between divisions. The fight against Duarte was supposed to be at 140 pounds, but it became a 143-pound catchweight bout at the last minute.

"King Ryan" is now 23-1 with 19 knockouts. Meanwhile, Duarte was riding an 11-fight winning streak entering the fight. The 27-year-old Mexican falls to 26-2-1.

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