Late replacement Hector Garcia performed like the world champion he was substituting for on Saturday night, battering and dropping the highly touted Chris Colbert to earn a unanimous decision win in a 12-round WBA super featherweight world title eliminator that headlined a thrilling Showtime tripleheader from The Chelsea inside The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas.

Garcia (15-0, 10 KOs) stepped in for the WBA super featherweight world champion Roger Gutierrez less than three weeks ago after Gutierrez was forced to withdraw due to a positive COVID-19 test. Despite having little time to prepare, the southpaw Garcia used his height and powerful left hand to dominate Colbert (16-1, 6 KOs) by scores of 118-109, 118-109 and 119-108. 

“I have to thank everyone in my corner, Ismael Salas and Bob Santos, and everyone that worked with me,” said Garcia. “I feel great. I definitely knew three weeks ago that my life would change. My trainers gave me the confidence to win this fight.”

Garcia was the aggressor throughout, dropping Colbert for the first time in his career with a counter left in the seventh round that caused Colbert to fall backwards, his legs flying up in the air from the momentum. Colbert got to his feet, but Garcia jumped on him again, stalking him around the ring.

“In the ninth and 10th rounds I hit him so hard,” said Garcia. “I knew I had him. I knew he wasn’t going to be able to box anymore.”

Colbert could never get on track and showed little of the aggression and skills that made him one of the most talked about young fighters in the sport.

In the end it was Garcia, a 2016 Dominican Olympian, who performed like the favored fighter, punishing Colbert and pushing him back and potentially earning a title shot against Gutierrez.

“I want to fight Gutierrez for the world championship,” Garcia said. “I worked too hard to get into this position today.”