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.
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.
Rios offered a passionate response: "He’s nobody special. Everyone thinks he’s something special. He’s nobody special."
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.
For a closer look at Garcia vs Rios, visit our fight page.