Danny Garcia passed the test.
The WBC welterweight champion vowed not to overlook Samuel Vargas with a major matchup against WBA champion Keith Thurman looming in March, and he didn't in front of his hometown crowd.
In a non-title fight scheduled for 10 rounds, Garcia, stopped Vargas in the seventh round Saturday night at Temple University's Liacouras Center. Afterward, Garcia climbed through the ropes and stood at the edge of the ring, yelling and pointing at Thurman, who was below him ringside at the television broadcast table. The two then stood toe-to-toe in the ring.
"I just had to tell Keith he's next," Garcia said. "I'm gonna whoop him. There's not much more to say. He got what he asked for and now he's going to face a real big dog."
After dominating nearly every round, Garcia (33-0, 19 KOs), who was barely hit throughout the night, pinned Vargas (25-3-1) against the ropes late in the seventh round and landed a few power shots, which led referee Gary Rosato to stop the fight.
Garcia, wearing tiger-striped trunks, dropped Vargas to the canvas in the second round with a big right hook after ducking under a punch attempt. Vargas barely made it to his feet before Rosato counted to 10 just before the bell sounded to end the round.
"It was just a well-timed shot," Garcia said.
Garcia landed power punches in every round. A powerful combination nearly ended the fight late in the fourth round, but Vargas was again saved by the bell.
"I felt a little rusty," said Garcia, who last fought in January when he defeated Robert Guerrero to win the WBC title. "But I started putting my punches together and came out victorious.
Next up is the biggest fight of his career.
Garcia and Thurman (27-0, 22 KOs) will unify their belts March 4, 2017, at a location still to be determined.
"They said that he wanted a tune-up," Thurman said. "Now he's ready to come see me."