Oscar De La Hoya realizes that Hector Luis Garcia was an undefeated world champion who is taller than Gervonta Davis and had one of the best years of any boxer in the sport in 2022.

“The Golden Boy” was still surprised that Garcia gave Davis the type of trouble De La Hoya detected during their lightweight title fight January 7 in Washington, D.C. De La Hoya paid particularly close attention to their battle because Davis will face his promotional company’s most prominent fighter next.

The retired six-division champion explained to co-hosts Akin Reyes and Barak Bess during a recent appearance on “The DAZN Boxing Show” why the Garcia he promotes will pose more troublesome problems than the 130-pound champion Davis stopped at the start of the ninth round at Capital One Arena.

“I thought it was a solid performance,” De La Hoya said of how Davis fought. “You know, given the fact that [Garcia] was champion, given the fact that, you know, his past performances, given the fact that, you know, he was a bigger guy. But I was actually surprised. I was surprised how at times Gervonta had difficulties, you know, keeping him off or catching him. He was getting tagged a few times. I’m not saying that his opponent wasn’t at the elite level, but he’s not at Ryan’s level.”

Baltimore’s Davis (28-0, 26 KOs) beat the Dominican Republic’s Garcia by technical knockout when Garcia declined to leave his corner for the start of the ninth round. Garcia (16-1, 10 KOs, 3 NC) told his trainer, Bob Santos, that he couldn’t see out of his right eye after the eighth round ended.

De La Hoya praised Davis, yet he also warned that Ryan Garcia (23-0, 19 KOs) – who is right-handed and almost five inches taller than Davis – will be very dangerous to the left-handed knockout artist nicknamed “Tank.”

“So, when I see Gervonta fight, I love the guy,” De La Hoya said. “He’s the most explosive, entertaining fighter out there today. And that’s why he sells [out] arenas. But when he's gonna face a Ryan Garcia, who’s a big kid, who hits like a mule with both fists, who is fast as hell, who is gonna fight tall, who is gonna keep his range and his distance, it’s gonna be a good fight. It’s gonna be a great fight.

“I think that the fact that Gervonta is aggressive is gonna make it [into] an entertaining fight. … I feel that this fight is gonna be a war, man. It’s gonna, you know, be a lot of energy, a lot of good energy, you know, inside the arena, inside the ring. It’s gonna be one of those special, special fights, special events for boxing.”

Handlers for Davis, 28, and Garcia, 24, are in the process of finalizing contracts for their Showtime Pay-Per-View showdown. The date and the venue haven’t been announced, but both boxers announced November 17 through their social media accounts that they’ll fight in Las Vegas.

Davis’ victory over Hector Luis Garcia secured his place in what will be the highest-profile fight of his career. Garcia, of Victorville, California, skipped a proposed tune-up bout against Filipino southpaw Mercito Gesta (33-3-3, 17 KOs), which was to take place this Saturday night, to move straight to the Davis fight.

Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.