Danny Garcia stopped Erik Morales with a brutal left hook at 1:23 of the fourth round to retain his WBC, WBA and Ring titles on the historic boxing card at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn.
Garcia (25-0, 16 KOs), who had previously scored a 12-round unanimous decision over a game Morales (52-9, 36 KOs) in an exciting fight, came into the rematch riding the momentum of a similarly decisive stoppage over the heavily favored Amir Khan. While Garcia's win unfortunately came at the expense the once-great Morales, the spectacular nature of the stoppage will do much to sustain Garcia's career momentum.
In their first fight, Garcia started slow and showed Morales perhaps too much respect. Still, Garcia eventually found his groove in that first encounter, scoring a hard knockdown in Round 11 and finishing strong. The pace of Garcia-Morales II appeared to take off from Round 11 of their last fight as Garcia was more assertive and confident with his game plan.
Garcia worked well to Morales' body, and a straight right hand at the end of Round 3 did major damage as Morales lost his equilibrium and started to walk toward the wrong corner at the end of the stanza.
It didn't take long for Garcia to follow up his success from Round 3, and the subsequent left hook he landed square on Morales' jaw was sickening in how it swiveled the former four-division champion's body as he fell backward. In an alarming scene, Morales' upper body was draped outside of the ropes, prompting his corner to immediately jump up onto the ring apron.
Morales stated in a post-fight interview that this would be his last bout in the United States; he does, however, hope to have a farewell fight in his hometown of Tijuana, Mexico. Many will call for Morales' immediate retirement, but whatever the Mexican legend decides, he will undoubtedly get a call from the Hall of Fame five years after he officially retires.
As for Garcia, he did exactly what he needed to do. While some were discouraged about the prospect of Garcia and Morales having to fight a rematch, Garcia, by scoring a highlight-reel knockout, maintained his impressive momentum and confirmed that he has improved dramatically since his first fight against Morales.
Garcia has a plethora of options moving forward. Of course, he could fight a rematch against Khan, but given his stoppage of Morales, it seems plausible that Khan's team might delay that encounter for the time being.
Other attractive options include Lucas Matthysse, Marcos Maidana and Mike Alvarado, while a less ideal but still appealing level of opposition brings to mind the likes of Zab Judah and Lamont Peterson. Regardless, the boxing world will be paying close attention to whoever Garcia fights next. In terms of fighters on the rise, there are few boxers moving as fast as Garcia.