U.S. Virgin Islands heavyweight Clayton Laurent Jr. picked up his first professional loss Friday night against Mexico’s German Garcia, falling in the third of four rounds at Puerto Rico’s Coliseo Ruben Zayas Montanez.
Anyone watching the first two rounds would have pegged Laurent the winner: while the two felt each other out briefly in the beginning, Laurent’s aggressive approach, foot work and combinations continued to put him ahead until Garcia landed a surprise punch to the face in the third round that put Laurent on the floor.
“I was winning the fight, going into the third round establishing my jab, he was getting tired, I was hurting him with the shots and I just kept applying the pressure,” Laurent said afterward. “The game plan was to wear him down and just start investing in the body, and then slowly take him out if I saw the opportunity. He came ready to fight, though, and even while I felt I was in control, it just takes one punch to change to outcome.”
Laurent came into the fight after three straight professional wins and now holds a 3-1 record. Garcia emerged from Friday’s tilt at 5-1.
Both opponents began round one feeling each other out, but by the middle, they were both throwing heavy punches, with Laurent landing several head shots and body combinations before getting Garcia against the ropes. Garcia responded with combos of his own, but Laurent, for the most part, was able to block them and later land a flush overhand that he followed by once again taking Garcia to the ropes.
After a reminder during the break from Julian “The Hawk” Jackson about using his overhand, combos and following with blocks, Laurent started the second round by keeping up the pressure. Garcia was pushed to the ropes a third time, with Laurent following up with combos before he was able to get away and land some punches of his own. Pinning Garcia a fourth time, Laurent later followed with a six-hit combo, but Garcia fought back and after getting Laurent against the ropes, both men moved to the middle of the ring to exchange blows.
Garcia landed several flush shots, but Laurent followed with a solid right that seemed to daze his opponent for a moment. Garcia quickly recovered and both fighters were back in the middle, trading punches before Laurent landed another shot to the head, which sent Garcia backward. Fighting back out of the ropes, Garcia pushed Laurent into the middle of the ring once more, and the back and forth that followed got the excited crowd on its feet, and The Hawk into the ring once the bell rung.
Going into the third round, it seemed Laurent had the lead, and he remained aggressive, throwing many jabs, following his opponent around the ring.
But then, suddenly, it was over. One quick punch to the face from Garcia put Laurent on the floor, where he stayed for the 10 count, giving Garcia the knockout.
“It was a great fight,” Laurent said afterward. “Up to that point, I didn’t feel like I was losing at all. Now, I have to go back and work on my defense. There has to be a hole there that gave him the chance to come through and land that hit. This is a one-punch sport and unfortunately, I was on the short end of the stick this time. I just have to go home, get some rest, recoup and get back into the gym again.”
“Champions get back up,” Laurent said. “I have to learn how to overcome it and do better next time.”