Danny Garcia did exactly what many expected he would do Saturday night: He pummeled Samuel Vargas in front of his hometown fans, then turned his attention to a very interested ringside observer.
Dominating from start to finish, Danny Garcia (33-0, 19 KOs) floored Samuel Vargas (25-3-1, 13 KOs) with a vicious overhand right hand in the second round and cruised to a seventh-round technical knockout in a non-title bout at Temple University’s Liacouras Center in Philadelphia.
After the much-expected result became official, Garcia climbed through the ropes and began trading barbs with Keith Thurman, a fellow 147-pound champion who worked the fight as a ringside analyst.
Even before he walked into the ring to face Vargas, Garcia had agreed to a title-unification bout against Thurman (27-0, 22 KOs) on March 4 at a site to be determined.
The two champions wasted little time cranking up the hype machine for their showdown, as they followed their brief ringside exchange with a much more heated, nose-to-nose confrontation in the squared circle.
It all started when Garcia—with his father/trainer, Angel, by his side—addressed his Philadelphia faithful during his post-fight interview: “Hey Philly—if y'all want to see me whip this guy’s ass, make some noise!”
"I just had to tell Keith he’s next. I'm gonna whoop him. There's not much more to say,” said Garcia, who won his third straight 147-pound bout after having been a 140-pound titleholder from March 2012 until vacating the crown in June 2015.
“[Thurman] got what he asked for, and now he's going to face a real big dog. On March 4 fans can expect what they always get from me. It's going to be fireworks. I’m a Philly champion. I have the heart of a champion, and I’m coming to win and unify titles.”
Thurman, of course, believes otherwise.
"Danny can talk whatever he wants, and Angel can say whatever he wants,” said Thurman, a 27-year-old native of Clearwater, Florida. “They can talk smack all day, but I know for a fact that everyone who faces Keith Thurman will tell you that I’m the hardest puncher they’ve faced.”
Garcia certainly proved he was the harder puncher on Saturday night.
In his first fight since beating former world champion Robert Guerrero for a vacant 147-pound world title in January, Garcia peppered Vargas with several clean shots in a one-sided opening round. Then late in Round 2, the 28-year-old Philadelphia native landed a sweeping counter right hand to the nose that sent Vargas crumbling to the canvas.
As he fell, Vargas literally went heels over head and took a full nine seconds before rising to his feet. The 27-year-old, Colombia-born, Toronto-based fighter would’ve been wise to remain on his bended knee, as the ensuing five rounds represented little more than a showcase of Garcia’s vast skills.
Over the final five rounds, Garcia was barely touched as he picked Vargas apart and landed at will. Finally, late in Round 7, the two-time world champion gave his fans the finish they came to see.
Backing a bloodied Vargas into the ropes, Garcia unleashed a brutal series of punches that forced referee Gary Rosato to step in and end the fight at the 2:17 mark. Rosato’s merciful stoppage came just as Vargas’ corner climbed on the apron to throw in the towel.
“Vargas did pretty good,” Garcia said. “I felt a little rusty, but I started putting my punches together well and I came out victorious.”
What about Thurman’s take on Garcia’s performance?
"Danny looked strong,” Thurman said. “He always looks strong when he’s sitting there flat-footed and letting big hooks go. [Vargas] was never a threat to him at any point.
“Danny had a decent victory today, but I don't think there was anything ‘Swift’ about it. They said that he wanted a tune-up [fight]; now he's ready to come see me.”
And as far as Thurman is concerned, Garcia has no idea what’s waiting for him come March 4.
“Danny, in my opinion, is someone who has been slightly exposed in the past,” he said. “I see myself as the best competition that Danny has ever faced. He may see himself as the best fighter I've faced.
“I'm going to box smarter and box better. … I think my counters and my power are going to be the ultimate game-changers.”
Hurd pummels Dan; Fortuna outlasts Douglas
In other televised action, Jarrett Hurd (19-0, 12 KOs) of Accokeek, Maryland, picked up his his fifth straight stoppage victory, earning a sixth-round TKO against tough-but-overmatched former title challenger Jo Jo Dan (35-4, 18 KOs) of Montreal in a 154-pound clash.
Also, former 130-pound champion Javier Fortuna (31-1-1, 22 KOs) of the Dominican Republic overcame a first-round knockdown to outhustle 133-pound rival Omar Douglas (17-1, 12 KOs) of Wilmington, Delaware, prevailing by a narrow unanimous decision.
For full coverage of Garcia vs Vargas, hit up our fight page.