It’s no secret that Danny Garcia and his father, Angel, come in the same package. Not only that, they're pretty darn funny when they're around each other.
Since Danny was 10, Angel has been by his side professionally as his primary coach, and has shaped Danny into the fighter he is today. Danny cites Angel Garcia as being his biggest inspiration in and out of the ring.
Danny and Angel spend the majority of their time together, hanging out, dancing and doing hilarious things, most of which become social media gold. Here are the top moments Danny and Angel Garcia proved they are one of the best father-son duos in sports:
A video posted by Danny Swift Garcia (@dannyswiftgarcia) on
Danny and Angel Garcia are also known for the business prowess. The DSG brand has created the family an empire both in and outside of the ring for no other reason than their hard work, dedication and business acumen when taking on new ventures. However, Danny doesn’t like taking things too seriously—even at Angel’s expense.
A video posted by Danny Swift Garcia (@dannyswiftgarcia) on
What's better than this? A father and son getting it done in the ring.
Boxing's youngest world champion David Benavidez dominates super middleweight title rematch against Ronald Gavril; Cuban contender Yordenis Ugas ups his stock with seventh-round KO of Ray Robinson.
Danny Garcia vs Brandon Rios Highlights: February 17, 2018. (Showtime Sports)
Danny Garcia was missing something the last few years he was in the ring. That was Danny Garcia.
The former two-division champ from Philadelphia had to find himself again. The loss to Keith Thurman 11 months ago placed him into a deeper fog. Garcia had to take some time off to rekindle his love of boxing again.
On Saturday night, inside the Mandalay Bay Hotel & Casino Events Center in Las Vegas, Garcia had the perfect foe in front of him in Brandon “Bam Bam” Rios—someone who would stand in front of him, engage and allow him to find the elusive comfort zone he had been searching for.
And then it came in the ninth. It was text book, compact, sweet, clean and emphatic: A beautifully landed counter right on the jaw disconnected Rios from his senses at 2:25 of the round.
The ninth-round TKO will likely place Garcia (34-1, 20 KOs) right back into the welterweight world title picture.
“I felt the ring rust a little bit in the beginning,” Garcia admitted to Jim Gray on the Showtime telecast. “My eyes weren’t as sharp as I wanted them to be. Rios is a good inside fighter. He was giving me some good inside uppercuts, and things like that. I felt good, I felt it was a good nine rounds. I came to bang, and I banged.
“I just noticed when I was getting my punches off, he was standing in front of me. I let the straight right hand go. As soon as I got the fight in the middle of the ring in the later rounds, I took it to the middle and landed good shots. I wasn’t looking for that shot, I was boxing, looking to let my hands go. I would love a rematch with Keith Thurman. It’s on him.”
In the third round, Garcia and Rios went hard at each other. Garcia began the round pumping the jab. When Rios had Garcia against the ropes, “Swift” unfurled a right-left-right-left-right combination on Rios’ head, hitting him with every shot. Rios did land his signature overhand right on Garcia’s face, though it had little effect.
After the round, Angel Garcia, Danny’s father and trainer, let him have it. “I don’t want that, I don’t want that,” Angel told his son. “Be rough. Don’t pity-pat this [expletive]. Hit this [expletive].”
“ I took it to the middle and landed good shots. I wasn’t looking for that shot, I was boxing, looking to let my hands go. ”Former two-division World Champion Danny Garcia
Garcia closed the fifth with a sneaky left uppercut, which caught Rios on the chin and slightly wobbled him. When the round was over, Rios was motioning with his right hand for Garcia to come on, and Garcia looked back as he walked to his corner with a smirk on his face, as if to say, “I’m in control here.”
Still, Rios did force Garcia against the ropes numerous times. He just didn’t have the power or overall wherewithal to hurt the iron-chinned Garcia, whose right-hand leads and counters began lumping up Rios’ face in the ninth. That was a quick clue the end was coming—and, wow, did it arrive.
Rios (34-4-1, 25 KOs) fell, referee Kenny Bayless reached eight, and when Rios got up and stumbled, Bayless wisely waved the match over.
“I’m mad, I didn’t want to go out like that,” Rios said. “I’ll die in the ring. I think I was doing really good. I got lazy with the jab and he came over with the right and he caught me. It was my fault. He caught me with a lucky punch.”
Garcia caught Rios with a lot of punches. He landed 188 of 614 (31%) total punches, and 131 of 287 power punches (46%), which was more than Rios landed in total (109 of 605, 18%, and 72 of 321 power, 22%).
Things got heated after the fight when Shawn Porter and his father, Kenny, entered the ring and Garcia and Porter jawed back and forth. The interaction certainly seemed to unnerve announcer Jim Gray, who blurted out to the Porters, “Get out of the ring!” before he spoke to Rios.
David Benavidez still didn't get the KO he craved, but he was dominant nonetheless in his lopsided UD win over Ronald Gavril in their 168-pound title rematch. (Ryan Hafey/Premier Boxing Champions)
David Benavidez dominates Ronald Gavril in 168-pound title rematch
David Benavidez claimed his head was somewhere else when he became the youngest super middleweight champion in boxing history by beating Ronald Gavril this past September when they fought for a vacant title. Benavidez was battling a cold and was grieving over the loss of his uncle. That’s what he said kept him from stopping Gavril the first time.
Benavidez vowed the rematch would be different—and it was.
He used his jab, went to the body and counterpunched very well in fulfilling the promise with a virtuoso performance in retaining his super middleweight title with lopsided scores of 119-109 on judge Julie Lederman’s card, and 120-108 on the scorecards of judges Robert Hoyle and Glenn Feldman.
“I knew he was going to come in aggressive, he’s one trick type of pony, who doesn’t know anything else but pressure,” Benavidez said. “I used that to my advantage, jab and outbox him all day. He gave me an opening and I took it. I didn’t knock him out, but he’s a tough son-of-a-gun.
“I don’t really care (about the previous bad blood between the fighters). Look at his face, and then look at mine. Both hands hurt, but I couldn’t stop using both hands. I have a warrior’s mentality and I’m going to keep pushing, and that’s exactly what I did. I stayed calm, and I stayed patient and looked for openings. That’s the way I trained in the gym. I want to be the best in the division, so no matter who they put in front, that’s what I’m going to do.”
Gavril, his face ravaged by Benavidez’s scraping jabs and sharp counters, had a swollen and bloody right eye.
“I think everybody saw that (Benavidez) tried to box me outside,” Gavril said. “It was a good fight from the point of boxing. Everybody knows now (that he’s a very tough guy).”
Yordenis Ugas scored a seventh-round KO against Ray Robinson in their IBF welterweight eliminator. (Ryan Hafey/Premier Boxing Champions)
Yordenis Ugas makes a point against Ray Robinson
Both Yordenis Ugas and Ray Robinson had the same goal on the national stage Saturday night: Make a larger brand name for themselves. Ugas (21-3, 10 KOs) wants to fight Errol Spence Jr., and the 31-year-old Cuban expatriate knew something impressive would help. He definitely helped himself.
Robinson (24-2, 12 KOs) had not lost in seven years. An Ugas’ right hand smashed that run. Referee Robert Byrd stopped it at 1:05 in the seventh when Ugas pounded on a defenseless Robinson in the corner. Ugas had knocked down Robinson in the first with a straight right, but that may have been helped when Ugas stepped on Robinson’s lead right foot.
There was no doubt about the right that landed in the seventh.
“I felt like I was the stronger fighter by far and he didn’t hurt me,” Ugas said. “He lost a point for hitting me after the bell sounded, and knocked me down, but even that didn’t hurt me. He was very awkward and his style threw off my timing.
“Luckily I was able to land body shots that I knew were hurting him. I was able to dictate the pace and we never in trouble.
Undefeated 168-pound contender Caleb Plant takes next step towards a world championship with dominant win over "Porky" Medina in title eliminator; while 2016 U.S. Olympian Karlos Balderas keeps his record perfect.
Despite what the judges had to say, Devon Alexander proved Saturday night he's come all the way back.
The judges however disagreed, stunningly scoring it a majority draw—114-114 twice and 115-113 in favor of Ortiz.
Alexander (27-4-1, 14 knockouts) won a 10-round decision in his comeback fight against Walter Castillo last November, but Ortiz represented the first real dangerous challenge for the former titleholder.
The St. Louis native outboxed Ortiz, and even proved he could take a good punch and answer back with combinations time and time again—enough in his mind to secure his second straight win.
"I absolutely thought I won the fight," Alexander said after the scores were announced. "The last few rounds I probably gave him, but I thought I outlanded him in the 12th. I thought I did enough to win. I gave him three rounds."
Ortiz (32-6-3, 25 KOs) had his moments in the fight, landing a couple of heavy shots that Alexander took well. But Ortiz could never sustain the activity and was outworked in nearly every round.
After a slow first couple of rounds, Alexander picked up his offense and landed eye-catching combinations regularly beginning in the fourth round. Ortiz would often wade in without punching, allowing Alexander to land consistently.
Alexander landed a right uppercut to open the seventh round that stunned Ortiz for a moment — the same punch that he once knocked out Juan Urango with in a 140-pound title fight many years ago.
“ I absolutely thought I won the fight. The last few rounds I probably gave him, but I thought I outlanded him in the 12th. I thought I did enough to win.
”Former two-division World Champion Devon Alexander
Ortiz continues to be the fighter with nine lives. A clear defeat would have been a sign towards him maybe hanging up the gloves, but a disputed draw will likely be enough to convince him to continue fighting on — and he's still a name opponent for the top guys at 147 pounds.
"I started pressuring and countering him more as the fight went on," Ortiz said. "I think I took control of the fight in the second half of the fight."
Alexander is likely a more dangerous opponent for any of the guys at 147 pounds than Ortiz is—and that could mean it's harder for him to find a willing opponent in the immediate future.
"This was my first draw and I hate it," Alexander said. "It's a bad feeling because I thought I won, but we'll go back to the drawing board and get better. I would love a rematch. That's up to my team to see what's next but I'll fight anybody. I'm a real fighter."
Oritz agreed on making a sequel: "A rematch would be awesome. If both teams agree and the fans want it, let's make it happen,” he said.
It was an entertaining fight no doubt, but the point of a crossroads fight is for one fighter to move onto the next rung of the ladder and the other to fall back. Now, neither fighter gets to feel satisfied with the night's results.
Caleb Plant picked apart "Porky" Medina in their title eliminator. (Juan Yepez/Premier Boxing Champions)
Plant defeats Media to take next step towards a 168-pound title
The co-main event of the telecast saw unbeaten Caleb “Sweethands” Plant (17-0, 10 KOs) score a unanimous decision victory over former title challenger Rogelio “Porky” Medina (38-9, 32 KOs) in their IBF super middleweight world title eliminator.
"It was a tough fight tonight against a tough competitor who puts everything on the line,” said Plant. “I’m happy we got the job done tonight.”
Plant established his style early, landing several flush jabs in round one to control the distance. The Nashville-born fighter showed the superior footwork from the outset that would lead him to the victory.
"I stuck to the game plan and I did exactly what I said I was going to do,” said Plant. “I boxed his ears off for 12 rounds.”
"He never had me hurt, but I found his style very difficult,” Medina said. “He moves a lot and he's pretty quick, so that was tough to deal with.”
Plant was able to mix in lead left hooks and straight right hands to continue to damage Medina throughout the action. The consistent jabs caused blood to begin pouring out of the nose of Medina beginning in round three.
While Medina continued to fight hard and occasionally land single clean punches on Plant, he was unable to follow-up with much effective offense and never was able to hurt his opponent.
After 12 rounds of action, the judges scored the fight 120-108, 119-109 and 117-11, all in favor of Plant.
"I want (IBF 168-pound champion) Caleb Truax,” said Plant. “He was calling me out when I was 12-0. I'm on the doorstep knocking now, let's see if he still wants it. He can either ship me the IBF belt to my doorstep, or I'll come take it off his waist."
2016 U.S. Olympian Karlos Balderas again victorious, but goes the distance for the first time
The four-round bout was not only the first time Balderas had gone the distance as a pro, but the first time an opponent made it through more than one round against him. Balderas staggered Rojas early in round one with a counter left hook, but Rojas was able to survive the round and the subsequent stanzas.
"I felt good in there,” said Balderas. “I need to learn to relax a little bit more in the ring. I hurt him in the first round and I could have finished him quickly. My corner reminded me to slow down, but I was still throwing everything with power. I'm going to keep working on my composure in the gym. I can't kill everyone in the first round."
2016 U.S. Olympian Karlos Balderas kept his perfect record intact despite having to go the distance for the first time. (Juan Yepez/Premier Boxing Champions)
Two-division world champion Danny Garcia eager to rebound from first career loss, while Brandon Rios looks to pull off the upset and climb back up the welterweight ladder Saturday night during their Showtime-televised card from Las Vegas.
Danny Garcia-Brandon Rios Weigh-In (Showtime Sports)
Things got heavily heated Friday night between former world champions Danny Garcia and Brandon Rios during their weigh-in at Mandalay Bay Hotel & Casino Events Center in Las Vegas.
The scene—which featured plenty of pushing and expletives, but no actual punches as members from both fighter's teams stepped in to de-escalate the matter—should add even more intensity to tomorrow's 147-pound title eliminator on the Showtime-televised card (10 p.m. ET/7 p.m. PT).
"It’s the Danny Garcia show. Prediction: Danny Garcia on top—I’m going to put him to sleep,” Garcia said immediatley after the fracas.
How Garcia (33-1, 19 knockouts) bounces back from his first career loss will go a long way in answering Rio's assertion and where the 29-year-old fighter goes from here. It will have been nearly a full year since Garcia lost a close decision to Thurman last March via split decision. The lesson Garcia learned is simple—try not to let his opponent see the final bell.
“I learned from the Keith Thurman fight not to leave anything in the hands of the judges," Garcia said at a recent media workout in his hometown of Philadelphia. "It was a close fight that could have gone either way. I have to go for the kill, so it is what it is."
While you never know how a fighter is going to rebound from their first defeat. Garcia made it sound like he took the break from boxing to get his mind right before agreeing to another fight.
“I was just enjoying myself for a little bit after the Thurman fight," Garcia said. "I knew that I’d be back so it was good to get some time with my family and away from boxing. Now I’m back and ready to go."
Rios (34-3-1, 25 KOs) has only been stopped once, after taking hellacious punishment at the hands of Tim Bradley in November of 2015. Rios has been in a half-dozen or so rough-and-tumble battles and it will be interesting to see where he stands against the first legitimate top five welterweight he's faced since the Bradley loss. Rios knows that a win over Garcia erases his recent history of having lost three of his last six fights.
“This is the kind of fight that I asked for because I know that beating a guy like Danny Garcia will mean a lot to my career and put me on the fast track to accomplish my goals," Rios said at a recent Los Angeles media workout.
“ This is the kind of fight that I asked for because I know that beating a guy like Danny Garcia will mean a lot to my career and put me on the fast track to accomplish my goals. ”Former World Champion Brandon Rios
Rios has reunited with trainer Robert Garcia, the man who led him to a 135 pound title. This is now two weight classes and a couple of losses removed from that past glory, but Garcia sees Rios as a refocused fighter since coming back to his gym.
“For this fight Brandon has been so motivated and training so hard," Robert Garcia said. “He’s very close to weight already and we’ve had more than enough rounds of sparring."
Bradley stopped Rios in part thanks to a sustained body attack, ultimately stopping him on his feet after putting him on the canvas following a combination to the body. Garcia isn't known for his attack to the body, but he's an elite boxer-puncher who will likely have infinite opportunities to counterpunch the aggressive Rios. At 147 pounds, Rios is more of a plodder, which plays into the hands of Garcia's style—a reason why most prognosticators don't see this as a competitive matchup.
Ultimately, it's expected that Garcia will get the win, and look good doing it. With just one loss to his name and having been in the top 10 pound-for-pound up until his loss to Thurman, a flashy win thrusts him right into the mix for the biggest fights the weight division has to offer.
A rematch with Thurman would likely have to wait until winter 2018 if Garcia gets by Rios—Thurman has a May date with no opponent set. Garcia's route to a Thurman rematch would likely have to come through a fight with an Errol Spence or a Shawn Porter. We'll see Saturday if Garcia has what it takes to return to the top of the 147-pound mountain.
As good as it felt for Alexander to drop Walter Castillo and get in 10 rounds November 21, the former junior welterweight and welterweight champion understands that his 10-round, unanimous-decision win wasn’t going to change skeptics’ opinions of him.
Victor Ortiz isn’t considered an elite welterweight anymore, either, but beating the onetime WBC champ would be a significant step in Alexander’s comeback because it’ll move him into position to face a top 147-pound opponent in his following fight.
The St. Louis native’s fight against Ortiz will be Alexander’s second appearance since completing treatment for an opioid addiction that was largely responsible for keeping him out of the ring for two years.
“I don’t think I proved too much to people [against Castillo] because people are still gonna have their doubts,” Alexander said. “I’ve seen people say, ‘OK, [Castillo] was an average fighter. I wanna see him in with the top guys.’ So this victory over Victor Ortiz is gonna put me in position to fight a top guy and that’s what I plan on doing.”
Ortiz (32-6-2, 25 KOs) also seeks what would be a career-saving victory against Alexander (27-4, 14 KOs) in a 12-round main event on FOX (8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT) from the Don Haskins Center in El Paso, Texas.
The powerful southpaw is just 3-4 in seven fights since he defeated Andre Berto to win the WBC welterweight title in April 2011. None of Ortiz’s three wins since he overcame two knockdowns to beat Berto by unanimous decision have come against ranked welterweights.
Alexander’s last noteworthy win was a unanimous-decision victory over Jesus Soto Karass in June 2014. He’s just 31 years old, as is Ortiz, and hasn’t been knocked out in nearly 14 years as a pro.
“I’ve knocked out a few people that haven’t been knocked out before,” Ortiz said. “And I’ve ended some careers [of fighters] that haven’t been knocked out. So hell yeah, [knocking out Alexander will] definitely put a question mark in people’s heads.”
Ortiz who resides in Tarzana, California has lost by knockout or technical knockout five times, including a fourth-round knockout defeat to Berto in their rematch in April 2016. Alexander has stopped just one of his past 11 opponents, yet expects to surprise Ortiz with his power.
“I shock a lot of people with my power,” Alexander said. “When you get in there, you’ll see. So hopefully, he’s taking my power and my speed lightly and he’ll come in there all reckless, thinking he can overpower me. Then he’ll be in for a rude surprise.”
“ I’ve knocked out a few people that haven’t been knocked out before. And I’ve ended some careers [of fighters] that haven’t been knocked out. So hell yeah, [knocking out Alexander will] definitely put a question mark in people’s heads.
”Former Welterweight World Champion Victor Ortiz
Even if Ortiz isn’t underestimating him, Alexander is confident he can knock out Ortiz or make the enigmatic ex-champion quit. Alexander thinks Ortiz “still has something left” and considers him dangerous, but feels his mental strength is a significant advantage over Ortiz.
“He has had a weird career and a lot of ups and downs, and twists and turns,” Alexander said. “I’m looking to exploit that, too, because you’ve gotta be mentally strong in boxing. You’ve gotta be mentally there and if it’s not going your way, you can’t just mentally check out. If the guy’s getting the better of you, you have to go to the drawing board and come up with a plan B and a plan C.
“Victor Ortiz is gonna be a tough opponent, so he’s gonna come ready. My job is to follow my game plan, put some hurt on him, let him feel this power and do my job, do what I do best, and that’s win.”
Like Alexander, Ortiz is determined to capitalize on what could be his last opportunity on a big stage. He, too, remains in his physical prime and believes he can compete with some of boxing’s best welterweights, the likes of IBF champ Errol Spence Jr., WBA/WBC champ Keith Thurman and former champions Danny Garcia and Shawn Porter.
“In the next few years, I will reign as world champion again,” Ortiz said. “[My first reign] was short-lived, off my championship that I captured. The world saw it. I still remember it like it were yesterday. I’m not satisfied. I’m not content. So I’m coming for everything.”
Whatever transpires Saturday night, Alexander and Ortiz are thankful that they’ll box before a huge audience on free TV. Alexander is particularly appreciative of this chance because his opioid addiction nearly ruined his career.
“After going through my ordeal the last couple years, to get back on the main stage, it’s where every fighter wants to be,’’ Alexander said. “I’m taking it all in and making sure I’ve crossed my T’s and dotted my I’s, to make sure I look good come fight night, because that’s all that matters. You can do all the talking, you can say what you’re gonna do. But at the end of the day, you’ve gotta get your hand raised. So that’s what I plan on doing.”
After taking 11 months away from the sport, the two-time world champion says he's rejuvenated to return to the ring Saturday night on Showtime and prove he's still one of the top welterweights in the world.
Two-time world champion Danny Garcia talks about suffering his first career loss and returning to the ring Saturday night in Las Vegas. (SHOWTIME)
The twists and turns each night became a little too much at times for Danny Garcia. His surreal world crashed into the real world and for months he’d wake up alarmed with the thought that he lost.
Saturday night, the former two-division champ from Philadelphia, Pa., will step back into the ring and take on Brandon Rios (34-3-1, 25 KOs) in a scheduled 12-round welterweight fight from Mandalay Bay Hotel & Casino Events Center, in Las Vegas—on a Showtime-televised card (10 p.m. ET/7 p.m. PT), which also features the David Benavidez-Ronald Gavril rematch, for Benavidez’s WBC super middleweight title.
Garcia (33-1, 19 KOs) had to find himself again after losing to Thurman.
“I love it, I love boxing, but to be honest, for the first time in my career I felt the pressure,” Garcia admitted. “In this sport, being a champion for so long, I never took it for granted, but it comes with a lot of pressure. It’s why I say for the first time in my career I felt the pressure of always being the underdog, always being counted out and I tried to overcompensate.
“I might have trained too hard for Thurman. What bothers me is I gave him more credit than he deserved and didn’t give myself enough credit. I trained so hard that I wasn’t happy. The sport wasn’t fun for me anymore. I think it’s why my performance the first four or five rounds was a little flat. No, no, it was completely flat. I should have started earlier than I did against Thurman.
“I wasn’t as energetic than I should have been. My father [Angel, his trainer] was zoned out. I was zoned out. I have been happy with boxing. I just got caught up with the pressure of life and everything around me for the Thurman fight. It’s why I took off for a year. I’ve been boxing since I was a little kid. I had to make myself miss boxing—and I did.”
Garcia is different. He’s thicker and stronger. He rolled through his sparring partners, and during an open media session last Friday after Philadelphia and Garcia celebrated the Philadelphia Eagles winning their first Super Bowl, he had a pop to his punches that was unheard of before.
The shots were crisp and came with thuds.
“I needed the time off to get myself together,” Garcia said. “It helped me physically and mentally. I feel good and I’m ready. It did take some time to get over the Thurman fight. Well, I’ll be honest, I’ll probably never get over the Thurman fight, because I am a champion and I take pride in what I do.
“But I lost that fight for all of the wrong reasons. I think that’s what bothers me the most. I lost that fight. Keith Thurman didn’t beat me—not me at my best. Think about it, Thurman wins a split-decision, and I didn’t even begin fighting until the fourth or fifth round. What does that tell you? I used to wake up from these nightmares that I lost. And then I would wake up, and I would be ‘Holy F---! I did lose.’ I don’t have the those dreams anymore.”
“ I lost that fight. Keith Thurman didn’t beat me—not me at my best. Think about it, Thurman wins a split-decision, and I didn’t even begin fighting until the fourth or fifth round. What does that tell you? ”Two-division World Champion Danny Garcia
Angel Garcia said Danny has sent all of his sparring partners home. Rios, 31, has a body that’s been ravaged by plenty of wars. He lost to Tim Bradley by a ninth-round KO in November 2015. Rios stopped Aaron Herrera with a seventh-round KO in June 2017. Rios will be right there for Garcia to hit.
“Brandon will come right to Danny and be there,” Angel said. “Danny is around 152 and he looks great. Danny didn’t start fighting until later. There were a lot of things going on for the Thurman fight. I got sent to the corner like a little kid. You know how they put the dummy hat on you and sit you in the corner when you’re a little kid, that was me.
“It messes you up mentally. I was zoned out in the corner. I was looking at him and I was somewhere else. I didn’t know how to wake him up, and I usually know how to wake him up. I didn’t wake up until I heard our cutman say, ‘Danny use your jab.’ That woke me a little. It was a messed up week. I already lost a lot of sleep over it.
“This thing f----- us up for a long time. We’ll make sure we go out there and take care of Brandon. When you’re an elite fighter, you want elite fighters. You have to give the fans what they want.”
Danny knows if Rios suffers one more loss, this could mean an introduction to the trial horse world.
“That’s what I intend to do, to end him,” Danny said. “He’ll try and make it ugly. It’s the only way he can beat me. He’ll try and pressure me, push the fight, but I’ll show him who the boss is from round one. I’ve learned from my mistakes.”
Tennessee native has overcame poor childhood, heart-wrenching death of young daughter—trials Caleb Plant says have prepared him for the most important moment of his life this Saturday night on FOX.
Plant vs De Angel highlights: August 23, 2016
For Caleb Plant, Saturday night’s fight against Rogelio “Porky” Medina isn’t just important. It’s vital.
“Porky is kind of like the gates to the Promised Land,” said Plant of his FOX-televised bout (8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT) that serves as the semifinal to the Devon Alexander-Victor Ortiz welterweight main event in El Paso, Texas.
“I get past this fight like I expect, everything I ever wanted is waiting on the other side. Everything I’ve ever been through inside of boxing and outside of boxing leads to this moment right here."
“Basically, for most everyone, boxing is the hardest thing they will ever do,’’ Plant said. “But that’s not the hardest thing I’ve done. Not by a long shot."
Nursing an infant toward what you know will be a tragic ending, as Plant did — on five different occasions, he was told by doctors that his daughter would not survive the night — makes an assignment like facing the experienced and durable Medina in a title eliminator seem easy by comparison.
The truth is, Medina, who is 38-8 and has twice as many knockouts as the 16-0 Plant has had fights, is probably the toughest opponent Plant has yet faced in his 3-1/2 year pro career.
But according to Plant, becoming a world champion has been in his sights since he was a nine-year-old tagging along with his dad, Richie, to a boxing gym.
“From that moment, I knew what I wanted to be,’’ Plant said. “I was going to be a champion, and nothing else."
So strong is Plant’s desire for success in the ring, and the wealth and fame that goes with it, that he says, “There is no Plan B."
“This is it," he said. “No college, no 9-to-5, no nothing. I ain’t got no Plan B, I ain’t never had no Plan B. Plan B is for people who know that Plan A ain’t going to work. This is going to work.”
For Plant, Plan A is defeating Medina Saturday night in the 12-round co-main bout at the Don Haskins Convention Center. A win would likely propel him to No. 2 in the IBF ratings, and a looming showdown with champion Caleb Truax.
“ No college, no 9-to-5, no nothing. I ain’t got no Plan B, I ain’t never had no Plan B. Plan B is for people who know that Plan A ain’t going to work. This is going to work. ”Undefeated 168-pound contender Caleb Plant, on becoming a world champion
But before you start chuckling about the amusing possibility of boxing’s first-ever all-Caleb title fight, understand that to Caleb Plant, a meeting with Truax is no laughing matter.
“I don’t know him personally, but back when I was 12-0 and he had like 30-somethhing fights he was saying bad stuff about me, hoping that I’d get knocked out,” Plant said. “To me that don’t really make him look good. It’s almost like someone in the NFL talking down on a high-school football player."
So it is safe to assume that Plant, an easy-going sort, would look forward to a showdown with his namesake in the near future. “I want Truax’s ass, bad,” he said.
But first he has to get past Medina, a squat, awkward brawler from Sonora, Mexico who is listed at 5-10 but appears shorter, and whose headfirst style appears made for the rangy, 6-1, Plant.
“He’s the extreme bull and I’m the extreme matador,” Plant said. “Anytime you get that kind of stylistic matchup it’s going to be exciting."
There’s no disputing that Medina, 29, has faced the much tougher opposition since turning pro in 2007. It’s also true that he has lost to just about every recognizable name in his record, being stopped by David Benavidez last May and losing decisions to James DeGale and Jose Uzgategui and getting knocked out by Badou Jack in 2013.
“He’s been in a lot of wars and he’s taken a lot of punishment and I think that’s had an effect on him," Plant said.
Still, Plant said he will resist the urge to outdo Benavidez, who flashed impressive hand speed and punching power in scoring his eighth-round TKO over Medina. “I’m not trying to outdo anybody,’’ he said. “I’m in my own lane and I’m running my own race."
Instead, Plant is concentrating on marketing himself through endorsement deals with Campus Coin, a cryptocurrency targeting college students, Shoe Palace, and through his own social media app, Sweethands, which is also his nickname.
“Boxing is everything to me, but that doesn’t mean that’s all I’m going to do for the rest of my life,’’ Plant said. “There’s other things out there for me. When you’re this good-looking how could there not be?"
But first, there is Medina Saturday night, and perhaps later, Truax and beyond.
For Caleb Plant, that is Plan A. And until that fails, Plan B simply doesn’t exist.
Take a closer look at Caleb Plant, by checking out his fighter page.
Boxing's youngest world champion was mourning loss of relative, battling sickness during championship victory back in September.
Jose Benavidez Sr. was emotionally torn.
His younger son, David, was a few weeks away from the most important opportunity of his blossoming boxing career. The powerful prospect also was in mourning, distracted by the devastating death of a family member.
Benavidez’s uncle, Moises Balladares, was shot to death by police during a standoff in Avondale, Arizona on July 26. Balladares brandished a gun after threatening suicide, which caused police to use force, according to what an Avondale Police Department spokesman told the Arizona Republic.
Balladares – the only brother of David Benavidez’s mother, Michelle Cruz – was a veteran who served multiple tours of duty in Afghanistan and suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder. He was just 33.
Understandably, Benavidez was having difficulty focusing on preparing for his fight against Ronald Gavril for the then-vacant World Boxing Council super middleweight title on September 8.
“I was very close with him,” said David Benavidez, who’ll battle Gavril in a rematch Saturday night in Las Vegas on a Showtime-televised card (10 p.m. ET/ 7 p.m. PT) that features a main event between former world champions Danny Garcia and Brandon Rios.
“He kind of helped raise me and my brother [Jose Jr.] when we were younger. He was like a second father figure. That’s what made losing him so tough.”
Jose Benavidez Sr., who trains his son, tried his best to keep David sheltered from the emotional aftermath of the tragedy while he was training in Big Bear Lake, California.
But phone calls from grieving family members made that almost impossible. To make matters worse, David Benavidez came down with a cold a little more than a week before he was to fight Gavril.
Jose Benavidez Sr. seriously considered postponing his son’s shot at a world title.
“I was really close to canceling that fight,” Jose Benavidez said. “Too many things had happened. That’s why I wanted to postpone it. But we said, ‘We’re warriors and we’ll just leave it up to God. And hopefully everything goes well.’ At that level, with it being a title fight, the decision was so hard to make. But we went with it.
“Him and his brother, they’ve been warriors since they were little. My other son [Jose Jr.] fought four fights with a broken hand. That was my mentality, that they’re warriors. I just felt something that told me we would win, and he did enough to win the fight.”
David Benavidez beat Gavril by split decision. He overcame a flash knockdown late in the 12th round to win on two of the three scorecards (117-111, 116-111, 111-116).
That victory made the 20-year-old Benavidez boxing’s youngest active world champion. Moises Balladares, one of his nephew’s biggest fans, would’ve been beyond proud.
“It was a difficult time for me when my uncle passed away,” David Benavidez said. “But he would’ve wanted me to keep working hard toward the fight and to just keep pushing forward. It was hard because I was really, really close to my uncle. But this was the biggest opportunity I ever had in my life. It was for a world title, so I really had to try to stay focused and I did the best I could.”
David Benavidez and Jose Benavidez Sr. didn’t discuss Balladares’ death before or soon after he fought Gavril. David Benavidez instead wore a patch honoring his uncle’s memory on the back of his trunks.
“ Their team has been talking a lot, saying they’re gonna knock me out,” Benavidez said. “I have a fire burning inside of me. I’m dealing with this anger and I’m gonna end this fight in a knockout. ”Super Middleweight World Champion David Benavidez
That patch will be visible again Saturday night, when the knockout artist from Phoenix hopes to produce a more convincing victory over Romania’s Gavril (18-2, 14 KOs).
David Benavidez (19-0, 17 KOs) hasn’t benefited from a more normal training camp for this 12-round rematch. The precocious champion challenged himself more in this camp as well by adding demanding strength and conditioning coach Alex Ariza to his team.
Ariza has helped improve his stamina, which was an issue in later rounds against Gavril, the first opponent to take Benavidez 12 rounds. Benavidez also has learned from spirited sparring sessions with unbeaten WBA light heavyweight champion Dmitry Bivol, undefeated light heavyweight contender Oleksandr Gvozdyk and Rogelio “Porky” Medina, who Benavidez stopped in the eighth round May 20.
“I feel like I could’ve taken him out, but I didn’t wanna gas out in my first 12-round fight,” Benavidez said. “That’s why I brought Alex into this training camp, so I could fight 15, 20 rounds with the same ferocity I fought with in the first couple rounds. I’m not planning to let it go to the scorecards this time.”
Seemingly in control of a competitive fight, carelessness cost Benavidez when Gavril landed a sneaky counter left that dropped him with 55 seconds remaining in the final round. Benavidez acknowledges Gavril gave him trouble at times, but nothing that prohibited him from agreeing to a rematch in his locker room immediately after their first fight.
“I felt like I was closing the fight out in the 10th, 11th and 12th rounds,” Benavidez said. “I just made a little error that I shouldn’t have made. I got dropped in the last round, but I wasn’t hurt at all. I jumped right back up, and with a smile on my face. It helped me grow mentally as a fighter. If I’m closing out the show like that, I have to do things in a little different way and be a little bit smarter.”
Benavidez believes that knockdown has made the 31-year-old Gavril, who’s promoted by Floyd Mayweather Jr., and his handlers overconfident as their rematch nears. The determined champion promised that they’ll pay for that miscalculation on Saturday night.
“Their team has been talking a lot, saying they’re gonna knock me out,” Benavidez said. “I have a fire burning inside of me. I’m dealing with this anger and I’m gonna end this fight in a knockout.”
This week on PBC Jabs, Danny "Swift" Garcia checks in ahead of his February 17th matchup against Brandon Rios.
Plus, we've got all the details for our back-to-back fight cards this Saturday on Fox and Showtime!
Former super middleweight contender talks about his Feb. 17 fight, recovering from knee surgery and what it was like to portray Roberto Duran in a movie.
Rodriguez vs Seals Full Fight: November 13, 2015.
Edwin Rodriguez has a lot on his plate. He rebounded from his first-ever stoppage loss with a knockout victory of his own last July; then in between those two fights he had surgery to repair an ACL tear in his right knee and somehow also found the time to portray Roberto Duran in the 2016 movie Bleed for This.
Now, he is about to step in the ring against Lionell Thompson.
Rodriguez of Worcester, Massachusetts will face Thompson in a 175-pound clash of 32-year-olds on the undercard of the Danny Garcia-Brandon Rios main event airing on Showtime (10 p.m. ET/7 p.m. PT) from Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas, Nevada on Feb. 17.
What do you know about Thompson and how important is this opportunity?
I’m excited about my first time fighting in Las Vegas, which is a great venue for boxing and a good opportunity. I’ve known Lionell since the amateurs, and he’s got good boxing skills.
I’m training hard with Ronnie Shields and looking forward to taking advantage and to continue my career with this fight on the big stage and move on up. This fight will do that for me.
How critical was your knockout of Melvin Russell following your stoppage loss to Thomas Williams and the knee injury?
It was pretty important. After the loss to Williams, I suffered the knee injury and it was important to come back right away and to insert myself into contender status.
Getting a knockout in my last fight was not as important as being able to get into the ring, move around and be mobile getting the job done, looking good and feeling good doing it.
Was your knee a factor before or during either of your fights with Williams or Russell?
My right knee injury was something I had been struggling with before the Williams fight. But after the fight, my ACL was completely gone and I had a meniscus tear.
I had had issues before the Williams fight, but after that, it got worse. So I had surgery in June of 2016 to replace the ACL and to repair the meniscus.
Was the injury a factor in your 15-month ring absence between the Williams and Russell fights?
The biggest battle I’ve endured over the past 15 months is working hard in general to maintain my conditioning and getting myself healthy.
I was working hard on the rehabbing of my knee, trying to stay in shape so much so that my knee is much stronger than it was before.
Basically, I’m to the point where I’m ready to get back in there, and I’m looking forward to showcasing my talents again on February 17.
“ That was like a dream come true. It was not only the opportunity to just to be in a movie, but to portray someone that I have looked up to in Roberto Duran since I started boxing. ”Edwin Rodriguez on his portrayal of Roberto Duran in Bleed For This
What did it mean to you to portray Roberto Duran in “Bleed For This?”
That was like a dream come true. Roberto Duran and Sugar Ray Robinson are my two of my favorite fighters of all time.
It was not only the opportunity to just to be in a movie, but to portray someone that I have looked up to in Roberto Duran since I started boxing.
I’ve studied Roberto Duran because I have all of his fights, and I especially like the way that he delivers shots to the body.
I have sat and watched Roberto Duran for hours, so being able to portray him in the movie was an amazing feeling.
Was it at all intimidating portraying a legendary figure?
I wasn’t intimidated at all, man. Like I said, it was just fun trying to be somebody that you look up to. I was Roberto Duran for three months, and I refused to get out of character.
I got the chance to be Duran in the way of his attitude, his will to win, and just overall how good he was in every aspect of his style.
I sometimes pattern myself after him because he had a combination of power and skills that changed as he rose into different weight classes as he went up.
Have you ever met or spoken Duran?
I’ve met Duran a few times, just to say hello and stuff like that. I haven’t seen him since my portrayal, but hopefully soon, and maybe in Las Vegas. I hope he thinks I did a good job.
How was Miles Teller’s performance as Vinnie Pazienza, how much input did you have on technical aspects of boxing and was Teller helpful to you as an actor?
Miles Teller is a professional, and I thought he did a great job. He had a choreographer who helped him and who worked on the Muhammad Ali movie starring Will Smith.
But I also helped Miles to feel comfortable because working with someone else who was a little more amateurish at one point, Miles got bruised up a little bit. At first, Miles was a little intimidated by me.
But after a while, I was able to help him out with the boxing and he helped me out with my acting as far as the camera angles, where to be for the positioning and to make the most of the best shots.
We worked on a bunch of different scenes together and he was able to see my professionalism, knowing I wasn’t going to really hit him and stuff. It was fun.
What top three fights are you most proud of in your career and why?
I would say my first-round knockout of Denis Grachev in Monte Carlo. He had never been stopped before I did it.
The fight against Will Rosinsky was another good one. We were both undefeated and it went back and forth for the full 10 rounds, all competitive rounds.
I think the fight with Donovan George was another good one because I was able to box well and he wasn’t able to get comfortable or land any significant shots. I think that was one of my best performances.
Given that you turn 33 in May, how long will you remain in boxing?
It’s not something that you want to have on your mind on a daily basis, but that’s something I’ll know when the time comes.
There are some fighters who don’t know when to call it quits, but I’ve surrounded myself with good people who will help me with that decision when it’s time.
It’s not something that’s here, right now, but when I get to that point, and we think it’s time to retire, I’m sure that I’ll listen to them.