Previewing the Garcia vs Benavidez Showdown
Showtime Main Event: Danny Garcia (36-3, 21 KOs) vs Jose Benavidez Jr (27-1-1, 18 KOs)
Former two-division champion Danny Garcia makes his highly anticipated return to the ring this Saturday at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York. Barclays has became a second home for Garcia, as he makes his ninth appearance there in the last decade. Danny has had great nights at the Barclays throughout his career, including victories over Erik Morales, Zab Judah, Lamont Peterson and Paulie Malignaggi. The former unified 140lb champion and WBC 147lb champion is making his debut at 154lbs this weekend, as he is looking to become a three-division world champion. Coming off of a layoff of over 18 months, he is looking to get some momentum back as he chases a title shot at 154lbs.
Garcia was last in the ring December 5, 2020 when he battled Errol Spence Jr for his unified welterweight championship. Spence was able to control the bout for the duration of 12 rounds, and handed Garcia his third loss as a professional. Danny has only been defeated two other times as a pro, in razor thin decision losses to former champions Keith Thurman and Shawn Porter. He comes into his 154lb debut as the favorite, and hopes that a victory this weekend lands him closer to a title shot in his new division.
Being now 34 years of age, Garcia is looking forward to the move up in weight. He has been vocal in the lead up to the fight about how he feels much more comfortable now at 154lbs and is eager to enter this new chapter in his career.
“This is a great relief on my body,” said Danny, who looks incredible shape entering this fight. “I hear the talk that I may not be big enough at 154, but I fought big guys at 147. I’ve been on a world-class level for 20 years. I fought the best in the world. For the Keith Thurman fight, I was happy at the time, because I was able to make the weight easy. The Spence fight, and the Adrian Granados fight (in April 2019), I’m not going to lie, it was hard making 147. I was cutting it close.”
He will square off against Jose Benavidez Jr, the older brother of two-time WBC Super Middleweight Champion David Benavidez, in a 12 round main event. . He did not look himself in that fight, and he fought to a draw against Francisco Torres. Jose Jr, along with his father and trainer Jose Sr, have made it clear that they dealt with ring rust in that fight and will be much more ready this time around to compete at the elite level.
Benavidez was a hyped up prospect on his way up, but his recent inactivity has slowed down his career trajectory. At 17 years old he was a sparring partner of Manny Pacquiao and was looked at as a potential future superstar in the sport. As he was moving up the ranks as a professional, he was shot in the leg in 2016, which caused him to take almost a two year hiatus from the ring. After scoring two knockout victories early in 2018, he got his first title opportunity as he battled Terence Crawford for the WBO Welterweight Title. The fight saw him have some success in the early rounds before being stopped in round 12. He once again has the chance to get a victory at the highest level of the sport, and he and his team are aware that this could be a make or break opportunity for him.
“This is a tough fight. Danny Garcia is a two-division champion going up to 154 pounds and he’s a dangerous fighter. He’s accomplished a lot, but we’re training hard and doing everything that needs to be done to get the win. At the end of the day, Jose can’t just win the fight, he has to look spectacular so that he can get even bigger fights,” Benavidez Sr. said.
Both sides view this fight as a must-win and both of the fighters should fight that way this weekend. Benavidez has always had a fan friendly fighting style, and the counterpunching ability of Danny Garcia should make for a great stylistic matchup. I expect Jose to use his size and hand speed to win some of the early rounds and keep Danny at bay. As the fight progresses, I expect Garcia to start getting his timing down and land shots in between the work of Benavidez.
Danny Garcia’s counter left hook has brought many highlights to the sport in his career, and I predict it being the shot that gets Jose Benavidez in some trouble Saturday night. The reason that boxing is loved by so many around the world is that anything can happen on fight night. I am not counting Jose Benavidez Jr out of this fight, but I am leaning toward Danny Garcia getting the late stoppage victory in his debut at 154lbs.