Talented Argentinian Omar Andres Narvaez (37-1-2, 20) successfully defended his WBO Super Flyweight title for the fifth time as he stopped Mexican Johnny Garcia (16-4-1, 8) in the 11th round of an impressive and emotionally charged bout.
The bout, first scheduled for Wednesday, was delayed following the death of Narvaez's father and in the opening round Narvaez did look like his mind was else where as he spent much of the round outside of his own range behind his high guard, allowing Garcia to hit his arms. Midway through round 2 however Narvaez seemed to realise he was in a fight and tried to launch his own hard shorts, often leaping at the much bigger Garcia with big left hands whilst frustrating the challenger with clever movement. Through the first 3 rounds Garcia seemed to be in the lead thanks to hi aggressiveness, however he was looking wild and sent himself to the canvas at one point whilst swinging at Narvaez.
By the mid point of the fourth round you could see Garcia gradually getting more frustrated with Narvaez and not only was Garcia missing a lot, but he was wasting a lot of energy against a very tricky Narvaez who, whilst not winning the fight at this point, was starting to tire the much younger Garcia. In round 5 Narvaez started to close the range and whilst he didn't do enough to really stamp his authority on the round, he seemed to have finally started to warm to the bout, however the round was sadly rather stop start after a number of accidental fouls by the challenger.
In round 6 the snap seemed to have gone from Garcia as Narvaez started to turn the screw and stood in the pocket and looked like he was really getting in the groove in his most impressive round up to that point. If the sixth was Narvaez finding his groove then the seventh was Narvaez showing a mean streak as he continued to stand in the pocket and land numerous, hurtful shots, almost appearing to take his emotions out on Garcia's head and body in a hugely impressive round that saw Garcia dropped officially for the first time in the bout.
As Garcia went back to his corner following round 7 he appeared to be a beaten man whilst Narvaez seemed to be a man with bad thoughts on in his mind. Surprisingly however Garcia came out for round 8 looking like a rejuvenated fighter before a nasty clash of heads had both men wincing with Garcia being deducted a point. Late in round 8 Narvaez seemed to look for the stoppage but Garcia managed to survive thanks to some confusion by both men regarding the end of the round.
Although Narvaez was controlling the bout it wasn't until the final minute of round 11 that he made his control really count for something as he dropped Garcia 3 times forcing the referee to wave the bout off and give Narvaez his first stoppage victory since moving up from Flyweight. Interestingly it's the third time Narvaez has stopped an opponent in the 11th round (with his last stoppage also being in the 11th round).
At 37 years old Narvaez is on the slide. He proved he still has the speed, skills and movement to hang with younger fighters though I wouldn't be surprised if he were to announce his retirement in the next few months, maybe going out with 1 more fight to finish a memorable, if under-rated career. For Garcia however I think we'll probably see him again as a perennial but limited challenger.