by Joseph Santoliquito

Philadelphia, PA (CBS)—Danny Garcia proved himself. Again. He was bloody and swollen, more marked up than he ever was in a fight, with a large gaping scar down the middle of his forehead, the badges of a job well done—and a few obdurate lessons learned.

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Garcia remained undefeated, 26-0, with 16 knockouts, and retained his RING, WBA and WBC junior welterweight titles in beating Zab Judah by unanimous decision Saturday night before more than 13,000 at Barclays Center.

It was a real coming-of-age fight for the 25-year old champion from North Philly. He got rocked a few times. Garcia absorbed a terrible head butt in the last round that opened up a gaping wound down the middle of his forehead.

It’s the first time in his professional career that Garcia was truly pressed.

“Zab is a warrior, he stood his ground and we put on a great fight,” Garcia said. “I had to dig down. When I see blood, it makes me want to fight even more. It’s what happens when you fight in a championship fight. You might get cut, get knocked down. This cut touched my brain, I think. I got stitches in and out. This fight made me learn and grow as a fighter.”

Garcia said he was going to take some time off. He said making 140 pounds is beginning to become harder.

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“Anyone you fight a crafty veteran like Judah, I think I can only get better by how I fought and how I came back,” Garcia said.

Garcia began taking control of the fight in the fourth round. His game plan was simple—drop the right hand and keep attacking Judah to the body. Garcia found a comfort zone. His power punches landed more flush.

In the fifth, Garcia seriously hurt Judah, had him wobbling, doing the Judah jiggle. The sixth was the same. Garcia finally dumped Judah on his butt in the eighth.

The final scorecards all had Garcia, who won by scores of 115-112 on judge Tom Schreck’s card, 114-112 by judge Anek Hongtongkam and 116-111 on Adalaide Byrd’s card.

“I was never hurt, but Garcia is a strong kid, I prepared to go to war tonight,” Judah said. “Garcia is a tough kid, he prepared himself and he fought tough. I’m happy with the way I fought. I proved I can still fight. Everyone enjoyed a good night of boxing, and it was an exciting fight.”

Joseph Santoliquito is a contributing sports blogger for CBS Philly.

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