Darwin Price stayed true to his jab against Javontae Starks, and in return it stayed true to him.
Working consistently behind his piston-like left hand Saturday night, Price was able to follow up with power shots as he earned a seventh-round TKO in a 142-pound main event at Cowboys Dancehall in San Antonio.
After a measured first two rounds in which both boxers threw almost nothing but jabs, Price loaded up a right hand behind a pair of jabs to knock Starks to the canvas in Round 3.
“I had to pick up the tempo, so I kept the jab going. I had to be smart,” Price said. “He’s a technical fighter, so I had to keep it tactical in the ring, so I kept using the jab, keeping him at bay, feigning and moving my feet, because my speed was a lot faster than his.”
In the seventh, Price landed another crisp double jab followed by a straight right that hurt Starks, who immediately tried to hold on. Knowing he had his opponent in trouble, Price began throwing wildly with both hands in an attempt to finish off Starks, who was pinned against the ropes.
Price, 27, then connected on a straight right that stunned Starks and began to dial in with both hands. Once again, Starks held on, leading referee Mark Calo-Oy to briefly separate the fighters. Seconds later, though, Calo-Oy stepped right back in to stop the fight at 1:52 of the round.
“I kept on [following] the double jab with the right hand because he was open with the right hand. I just didn’t throw it in the beginning that much,” Price said. “But it brought that knockdown and it brought that knockout, so I’m thankful for that.”
Price, who was a star distance runner at Grambling State University for four years before starting his pro boxing career, had won his last two fights by eight-round unanimous decision.
Meanwhile, the loss was the second straight for Starks, who was fighting for the first time in more than 300 days since dropping an eight-round decision to Samuel Figueroa last year in Orlando, Florida.
Despite competing at the lowest weight of his pro career, the 27-year-old Minneapolis native made no excuses after the defeat.
“[Price] had a pretty good stiff, quick jab and it took me a second to come in and get heated up,” Starks said. “I’ve been off since October; he just pretty much fought a couple of months ago, but he came in and did his job, stuck to his game plan, and he made it difficult for me to get through the jab.”
In undercard action, Kent Cruz (11-0, 6 KOs) earned an eight-round unanimous decision over Rickey Edwards (11-1, 3 KOs) in a clash of unbeaten 140-pound prospects. Cruz floored Edwards in Round 2 with an overhand right to take early command of the bout.
David Perez (8-0, 4 KOs) delivered a lights-out right hand to gain a sixth-round KO of Gustavo Molina (12-13, 5 KOs) in a 122-pound clash. Perez put Molina down in Round 3 before finishing him off in the final round of the fight.
Junior Castillo (11-1, 9 KOs), a 2012 Olympian for the Dominican Republic, gained a six-round unanimous decision over Josue Obando (12-11-1, 10 KOs) in a 162-pound bout, while Justin Pauldo (8-1, 4 KOs) defeated Eric Anton (4-4, 1 KO) by six-round unanimous decision in a 135-pound battle.
For a complete overview of Price vs Starks, visit our fight page.