BRUCE Carrington cemented his fringe world-level credentials by removing Brayan De Gracia in round eight of their scheduled 10-round featherweight scrap. ‘Shu Shu’ was chief support to Xander Zayas’ lopsided decision victory over Patrick Teixeira in the main event.

The Brownsville native used his telephone pole jab early on to measure De Gracia, who agreed to the fight on three days’ notice. Hailing from Panama, De Gracia had one of the all-time greats, Roberto Duran, admiring his countryman’s work from ringside.

Carrington landed a powerful left hook at the close of round two and followed it up in round three with a calculated body attack that strayed as low as De Gracia’s thigh. Described by ESPN pundit Mark Kriegel as possessing “Brownsville swagger mixed with Olympic pedigree”, Carrington sent his man to the canvas in round five when a short shot glanced off the back of Brayan’s wavering head.

Before his most recent loss to Edward Vazquez, De Gracia had been enjoying a five-fight KO streak but had been inactive since that loss in mid-2023. The pace was starting to tell on the Panamanian whose nose dripped blood early in the sixth. Carrington was the one literally smelling blood and he sent De Gracia spinning against the ropes at the end of round seven for another count. 

The former WBA Fedecentro featherweight champion had nothing more to offer and Carrington closed the show in round eight, walking his survival-minded foe down, hammering home a cavalcade of blows that prompted referee Eric Dali to step in at 2-56 of the eighth.

Carrington was well aware of Naoya Inoue’s presence in the crowd, stating: “There’s a reason he came to watch me, I’m making noise. I definitely want to make that fight happen sometime soon.”

Carrington improves his record to 12-0 (8 KOs). De Gracia falls to 29-4-1 (25 KOs) but may be brought back to test some of the minor prospects on future Top Rank shows. The unused judges were Ken Ezzo, Max DeLuca, and Bernard Bruni.

Labeled as ESPN’s 2023 prospect of the year, Bruce came in as the fourth-ranked contender by the WBO. Champion Rafael Espinoza fights Sergio Sanchez on June 21. Below Carrington is Ruben Villa, who would represent a solid test to see if Carrington can hang at the top.

Carrington is #12 with the IBF. Luis Alberto Lopez, also part of the Top Rank stable, holds that title. Rey Vargas currently (just about) holds the WBC title, while Brandon Figueroa has their Interim bauble. Carrington is seventh with that organisation.