Ryan Garcia has gone the 12-round distance for the first time in his career, in scoring a unanimous-decision victory over Emmanuel Tagoe on Saturday in San Antonio.
The 23-year-old rising star remained undefeated via scores of 119-108, 119-108 and 118-109.
Garcia (22-0, 18 KOs) scored a flash knockdown of Tagoe in Round 2 with a grazing right hand but was unable to produce a second knockdown as the Ghanaian seldomly engaged.
The Southern Californian picked Tagoe (32-2, 15 KOs) apart with right hands to the body and left hooks to the head as the massive underdog languished on the ropes in a shell.
Garcia, ESPN’s No. 6 lightweight, sent Ghana’s Tagoe reeling in Round 10 after he connected with another right hand, but the 33-year-old was able to buy time and make it out of the round.
“I hit him with some shots, he was crafty with the holding,” said Garcia. “He was moving a lot, I have to be better at cutting off the ring. I had to trap him down, it was a new experience trying to cut the ring off with a guy who’s looking to survive.
“I caught him with a super good right hand and he was really hurt but I couldn’t find the next shot.”
The 139-pound catchweight bout was Garcia’s first since a seventh-round TKO of Luke Campbell in January 2021, a breakthrough performance. Garcia was slated for another step-up bout in July of last year against Javier Fortuna, but Garcia withdrew to address his mental health.
Garcia was then set to fight former titleholder Joseph Diaz Jr., in November, but he suffered a wrist injury while training and underwent surgery that October.
When he returned to the gym, Garcia did so with a new trainer, Joe Goossen, whom he worked with during his amateur days. Garcia had trained with Eddy Reynoso at Canelo Alvarez’s San Diego gym for his past five fights before they parted ways.