LAS VEGAS — Robert Garcia, Oxnard's other fighter, the man who had fought to get into the spotlight held by his best friend and stablemate Fernando Vargas, was knocked back into the shadows Saturday night at the MGM Grand Garden Arena by Diego Corrales.
Corrales upset the previously unbeaten Garcia, cutting him in the third round, getting two knockdowns in the sixth and then finishing Garcia in the seventh round with a devastating right hand to win Garcia's International Boxing Federation junior lightweight title.
"He caught me and surprised me," said a stunned Garcia. "I was very well prepared but he did a good job."
Garcia had won all 32 of his previous fights, 24 by knockout, but he was in trouble early. Garcia got a serious cut over his right eye in the third round.
In the sixth, two lefts and two rights by Corrales put Garcia down. He struggled to his feet and voluntarily took a knee in the final seconds of the round when he was unable to defend himself against Corrales.
In the first minute of the seventh round, Corrales finished Garcia off with a right hand to the chin that snapped Garcia's head back and sent him sprawling into the ropes.
Garcia was ready to continue, as futile as that would have been, but referee Joe Cortez immediately waved off Corrales, indicating the fight was over 48 seconds into the round.
"This is a dream come true," said Corrales, who remains unbeaten at 29-0 with 24 knockouts.
In a preliminary fight, David Tua (35-1, 30 knockouts) of New Zealand, the IBF's No. 1 contender in the heavyweight division, didn't hurt his standing.
Tua stopped Shane Sutcliffe (21-9-1, 12 knockouts) at 1:21 of the second round of a scheduled 10-rounder. Tua put Sutcliffe down with a left to the forehead. The Canadian fighter struggled to his feet, but Cortez ruled Sutcliffe had had enough.
Zab Judah had also been scheduled to fight on the card. But because Judah, the No. 1 contender in the IBF junior-welterweight division, is in the midst of a purse bid for a title shot against champion Terronn Millet, Judah was prohibited from fighting Saturday night. Under IBF rules, a boxer cannot fight within 60 days of a purse bid.
So instead, Judah took part in two three-round exhibitions Saturday night, one against Manuel Gomez, the other versus Jouquin Gallardo.