Two-division world boxing champion Danny Garcia returns to the ring after a 19-month layoff to face Jose Benavidez Jr. at super welterweight on July 30.
Danny Garcia doesn’t have anything left to prove as a boxer. After 15 years as a professional boxer, Garcia is a two-division world champion and has wins over legends like Erik Morales and Zab Judah.
He could retire and someday join other greats in the International Boxing Hall of Fame, but at 34 years old, this Philadelphia, PA, native isn’t done trying to add to his legacy.
Garcia (36-3, 21 KOs) only has three losses on his record and has never been in trouble in that time. In December 2020, Garcia had arguably the toughest test of his career in undefeated welterweight champion Errol Spence Jr.
Garcia boxed well but couldn’t match Spence’s intensity and punch accuracy. Spence won via unanimous decision, but Garcia more than held his own. He looked like he could best most elite welterweights not named Spence or Terrence Crawford, but something didn’t feel right for Garcia.
During his fight with Spence, Garcia felt a step behind. Nothing was wrong physically. Garcia came conditioned and in shape, but the former fire in his heart didn’t burn the same way. He needed a break.
“I feel like it was a good, competitive fight, but I don’t think he looked great, and I don’t think I looked great, Garcia said to FanSided. “I felt like I was a little bit flat as far as energy-wise, and that’s because I felt like I was a little bit mentally tired.”
Garcia hasn’t had a professional fight since his contest against Spence 19 months ago. He never questioned stepping away from the sport for good, but he needed time away from boxing.
“Yeah, I just spent time with the family, giving myself some time to miss the sport,” Garcia said. “Mentally, just resting my brain, resting my body.”
Garcia hasn’t had much of a break from boxing since he started as a 10-year-old. Doing anything long enough repetitively can get old. Garcia knew that the competitive fire would find him again, but it would take time.
Watch Danny Garcia vs. Jose Benavidez Jr. on Saturday, July 30, on Showtime at 9 pm ET
“You know, when you wake up and you think about going to the gym, that means you’re tired,” Garcia said. “But when you wake up feeling excited, and you feel rested, and you feel good, that means you’re ready to go. And that’s how I feel.”
It took over a year for that feeling to come back to Garcia, but it came, and that’s all that matters.
Garcia’s return to the ring occurs on Saturday, July 30, against Jose Benavidez Jr. at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York. It’s a familiar stage for Garcia, who has fought there eight times. However, this time is different.
When Garcia steps into Barclays Center against Benavidez, he’s doing it at a new weight. Garcia fights for the first time as a super welterweight. He feels like that division is his new home.
“Naw, there’s definitely no stepping back,” Garcia said. “There’s no going back. There’s no going back. So we just want to keep going up and up and up. So you know, we’re going at 154, and we ain’t going back down. This is our new place. This is our new weight class.”
Garcia made a lot of effort to make the 147-pound limit in the past. He recently told the PBC Podcast (h/t Bad Left Hook) that his walk-around weight is 170 but that he was 185 before Spence.
A 20-30 pound cut is a lot for a boxer, but Garcia feels more at ease now that he’s venturing into the 154-pound division.
“So you don’t want to go into the gym and have to worry about losing all his weight or working on a game plan losing weight,” Garcia said. “You always got to lose weight, but you don’t have to lose so much, and you know, and that makes you feel happy.”
Garcia told FanSided that he’s already at about 166 pounds and believes he will have more muscle mass against Benavidez than in previous contests.
Benavidez (27-1-1, 18 KOs) is the perfect opponent for Garcia’s super welterweight debut. He’s only 30 years old but has something to prove, having collected a loss and a draw in his last two bouts.
Benavidez is a power puncher and held the interim WBA super lightweight title from 2014-2015, but hasn’t met expectations. He has something to prove against Garcia and will be the underdog.
Assuming all goes well for Garcia, he’s eager to step in the ring with Erislandy Lara or Jermell Charlo next.
“Lara’s a champion at one middleweight, I believe WBA,” Garcia said. “He said he wants to fight. I think that makes a lot of sense. And then I would love to fight whoever. Charlo, like I said, I know he has some mandatories and stuff like that.”
If Garcia is victorious against Benavidez, he’s sure to have many options next. Right now, he’s keen on taking his time and enjoying boxing again while staying patient.
“So, like I said before, I just gotta take it one fight at a time,” Garcia said. “I got to be like, Danny Garcia, my old mindset. Just taking it one person at a time and not really worrying about nobody else. And that’s how I’m approaching this fight. One fight at a time, one round at a time, one day at a time.”