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.
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.
Reality check. He did.
It’s been 11 months since “Swift” has been in the ring. The last time the boxing world saw him he lost a close, competitive split-decision to Keith Thurman for his welterweight title.
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.”
For a complete look at Garcia vs Rios, visit our fight page