By Roland McCall
Alex Garcia vs. Bernard Benton (1990)
Mexican-American Alex “The San Fernando Hammer” García was a former gang member and served five years in San Quentin for stabbing a rival gang member. Upon his release, he found himself training at the Jet Center, where he took up boxing and—in still-another made-for-the-movies-scenario—quickly became an amateur star in the super heavyweight division. He won the National Championships in 1986 and lost to the legendary Teofilo Stevenson in the final at the 1986 World Amateur Boxing Championships
Garcia started fast in the pro ranks and was highly touted at 32-1 (his only loss coming to the underrated Dee Collier on cuts) when he was shockingly iced by limited Mike Dixon in a stunning upset. Garcia avenged this loss a year later, but the Dixon KO loss put his career in a dead end.
After three wins against awful opposition Alex retired, but after a six-year layoff he made an ill-advised comeback (are there any other kind?) against the dreadful 6’8” Wallace McDaniel and was KO’d in three. His final mark in the pros was a respectable 40-6. As Geno McGahee of Ringside Report nicely put it, “The ‘San Fernando Hammer’… was a comet, burning bright for a period of time but then burning out.”
In 1990, Garcia fought Bernard “Bull” Benton in Phoenix; Benton was 18-5-1 at the time. Garcia was 17-1. The referee was experienced Roger Yanez.
Though he was coming off a one-round blowout at the hands of tough Pierre Coetzer in South Africa, The inactive Bull, a former WBA cruiserweight champion, was a tough cookie, He had beaten Coetzer three years earlier and also held solid wins over Monte Masters (29-1), Ricky Parkey (13-2), and Alfonzo Ratliff (for the WBC cruiserweight title in 1985). He lost razor thin decisions to Carlos De Leon (39-4) and Boone Pultz (10-0) and was considered anything but a pushover against the heavy-handed Garcia. Benton’s career was relatively short, but he was competitive at the highest level.
“Referee Roger Yanez, apparently on a lunch break, didn’t intervene and it looked like Benton had been killed. He slumped face first into the canvas and that prompted Yanez to react. He began counting. The fight was over and Garcia had a devastating knockout that got a lot of play because of the horrible officiating and the overall brutality of it.”—Geno McGahee (Ringside Report)
Awesome clinical finish from Garcia. He hardly missed. Huge heart from Benton. He received 31 punches to the head (and 3 body shots) in the last 25 seconds. More than half of those punches were bombs delivered with knockout power. Someone must’ve had a lot of money on this fight going beyond 2 rounds. Garcia basically dug Benton’s grave before the referee belatedly “intervened”— Poster named Ich Chee Kok
After a free swinging opening round, Garcia used his punishing jab in the second round to keep an incoming Bull at bay. After two nice body shots, the Hammer stunned the Bull with a left hook right cross combo and then the slaughter commenced. An onslaught of between 35 and 40 unanswered shots was launched. Many landed while Benton was out on his feet but pinned in a corner. Some landed with full force, some landed low. The protracted volley included left hooks, right crosses, uppercuts, and leather to the body and groin. Garcia threw everything but the stool at the poor Bull. Announcers Al Albert and Sean O’Grady were shouting for the fight to be stopped as Benton’s head was snapping back violently. Then, as Benton fell face down on the canvas totally unconscious, Yanez was about to begin the count before realizing he could have counted to 1,000 as the crowd unloaded on him with boos. It was terrifying –even surreal–to witness. Garcia had knocked out an already knocked out fighter.
Later, the spin was that the referee was out of position to make a make a timely decision; the reality was that the referee was on Mars.
According to a November 7 report in the LA Times titled “Arizona Criticized Referee,” referee Yanez was not allowed to work anymore bouts the rest of 1990—a whole two months. Buzz Alston, commissioner of the Arizona State Boxing Commission, said the decision was made after a review of Yanez’s performance during the Garcia-Benton fight October 9 at the La Mancha Athletic Club in Phoenix. Yanez last worked in 2005.
“The fight was televised live nationally on USA Cable, and La Mancha employees said their switchboard was deluged with telephone calls in protest of Yanez’s handling of the fight.”—From Times Wire Services dated November 7, 1990.
Here is the YouTube but be forewarned, this is not for the faint of heart: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IrHiuXwobCo