Number 197 – Jose Luis Garcia

Jose Luis Garcia (tied for 192)
Caracas, Venezuela
6’4” / 159-221 lbs
30-8-1-1(19) from 6/17/1968 to 8/14/1975 (7y2m)

0-4-0-0(0) against the top ten
0-0-0-0(0) against linear champions
1-1-0-0(1) against hall-of-famers
no fights for the linear championship

Top ten opponents: L-KO-6 Ernie Terrell, L-KO-3 Ron Lyle, L-KO-2 Joe Bugner, L-KO-5 Ken Norton

-3 total score (0 + -4 + 0 + 1)

I haven’t been able to find much biographical information on Jose Luis Garcia. He is a bit of mystery to me. I will have to stick with his ring career. While brief, it was quite exciting.

Garcia started his career as a gangly teenager, fighting initially as a 6’4″ middleweight. He filled out fairly quickly, and in his 15th fight, just under two years into his career, scored a 10 round decision win in his heavyweight debut. With this win, his record stood at 12-2-1(6), and he had filled out to a still-lean 188 pounds. In his second fight as a heavyweight, he took on future heavyweight contender and hall-of-famer, Ken Norton. At this point in July 1970, Norton himself was only a 16-0 prospect, still a couple years from cracking the top ten. Garcia demonstrated speed and toughness, and hurt Norton several times, culminating in an upset 8th round knockout. The loss eventually proved to be a good learning experience for Norton, though at the time it was viewed as a major setback.

Garcia carried his sudden career momentum into a series of knockout wins, including a 2nd round KO of former contender Thad Spencer. In October 1972, Garcia was riding an eight fight win streak into a confrontation with faded former contender Ernie Terrell. Garcia was enjoying a homecoming of sorts in Caracas, but Terrell turned back the clock at his expense. Terrell knocked Garcia out in the 6th round, bringing himself back into contention, to the dismay of the hometown fans.

Things went south for Garcia, as he was knocked out in just one round by a clubfighter in Puerto Rico, and then in three rounds by contender Ron Lyle. Garcia had also gained a large amount of weight, and the previously svelte and nimble fighter was entering the ring at 220 plus pounds.

He slimmed down a bit after the Lyle fight, and started to get back on track, winning four straight in 73 and 74, against limited opposition. But that streak would end in a wide loss to rising contender Jimmy Young, and then a losing streak would start with a second round knockout against Joe Bugner.

Garcia would manage to get a couple easy wins against no-hope clubfighters, but then would run into Ken Norton in August 1975 – now an experienced contender. This time, Norton was a vastly improved fighter, having shared the ring with Jerry Quarry, George Foreman, and Muhammad Ali twice, since their first meeting. Garcia tried to lure Norton in against the ropes, but Norton simply beat the fight out of Garcia, and dropped him in the 5th with a vicious body shot. Garcia would retire after the fight.

Garcia’s conditioning issues (and the bad timing of fighting at heavyweight in the 1970s) prevented him from achieving fistic greatness. But he was able to be a contender in the toughest era in heavyweight history.

A short bio on Garcia from Jim Amato:

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