Garcia enters the picture in US

LUIS “EL LEON” GARCIA is one to watch in 2012 following his impressive victory over promising light heavyweight, Alexander ‘The Great’ Johnson, at the Morongo Casino Resort & Spa in Cabazon, California, on Saturday morning.

Garcia, one of two Cork-based Cuban fighters on the undercard to Jermain Taylor’s winning return against Jessie Nicklow, had the honour of opening the telecast of a special edition of ShoBox: The New Generation on Showtime and made the most of the opportunity to parade his talents across the United States.

A former world junior champion, Garcia brought his record to 12 wins with nine KOs as he handed Johnson his first defeat in 13 professional fights, winning a one-sided eight rounder 80-71, 80-72 and 80-72.

Garcia, who turned 24 last week, was coming off a lengthy lay-off as well as stepping up to the light heavyweight division but was never going to have problems with the southpaw as he spars daily with Mike ‘The Rebel’ Perez, who won his heavyweight contest on the night.

He totally dismantled his opponent, won every round decisively and left what he hopes will be a lasting impression among the American fight fans.

“This was my first fight in over 13 months and I was a little rusty but I am happy to get the win and looking forward to fighting again very soon in the states,” he said.

“I promise that I’ll give the fans a much better show next time.”

Perez, who was the first of the Cubans to arrive in Cork, went into the show with a big addition to his CV after winning the Prizefighter International Heavyweights earlier in the year but he faced a tough 10 rounder against Friday “The 13th” Ahunanya (24-8-3, 13 KOs).

The Cuban-born southpaw, however, punched his way to the class above the Nigerian who is now based in Las Vegas as he claimed a one-sided unanimous points decision — the three judges scoring the bout 100-90 in favour of Perez while Fightnews.com scored it 99-91 for Perez.

Not renowned for his patience, Perez was cool, calm and collected, beating Ahunanya to the punch and was always in control.

The headliners, Jermain Taylor and Andre Dirrell, made triumphant returns — both taking the short route. Taylor (29-4-1, 18 KOs) registered an eighth-round knockout over Jessie Nicklow (22-3-3, eight KOs), from Baltimore in the main event while Dirrell (20-1, 14 KOs) had Darryl Cunningham (24-3, 10 KOs) from Detroit on the floor twice before the bout was stopped in the second round.

Taylor, a former undisputed world middleweight champion, had not fought since October, 2009 and was glad to be back.

“I felt a little rusty but as the rounds went by I got more comfortable,’ he said. “I wanted to try and go in there and have some fun. We’ll see where I go from here. There is no timetable. But I’m not going to walk from it. I’ll fight anybody.”

Dirrell, who had not fought since March, 2010, was also happy to be back but said he would have liked the fight to have gone further.

“I wanted it to go further, but I felt really good,” he said.

“My hands felt lighter, my feet felt fast. I’d say I fought at about 99.5%, which was more than I could ask for.

“Time will tell what I do next, but I’m going to continue to work hard.”

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