There are numerous stories of fighters seeking a fresh start in a new weight class. It is indeed true that for most fighters who are not natural Heavyweights that there might be options in multiple divisions both up and down the weight scale based not only on a fighter’s physical comfort in terms of being able to compete effectively at a given weight, but also the various opportunities both to fight for world championships and the economic benefits those opportunities carry with them.
In the case of former two-division world champion Danny Garcia, after being a world champion in both the 140lb. Jr. Welterweight and 147lb. Welterweight divisions, a new chapter in his career now looms as he sets his sights on the 154lb. Jr. Middleweight division. The move up in weight follows his loss in December 2020 to undefeated unified Welterweight world champion Errol Spence in a failed attempt to regain a portion of the Welterweight world championship he once held. Garcia, who lost that fight to Spence via twelve round unanimous decision will not only be moving up in weight, but will be doing so after a nineteen month absence from active competition.
Garcia’s return to the ring will take place on Saturday, July 30th as he will face Jose Benavidez at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, NY. The fight, which can be seen here in the United States on premium cable network Showtime has two questions that surround it and both center squarely on Garcia.
Two questions that will likely be in the minds of most knowledgeable Boxing fans. How will Garcia look after nearly two years out of the ring, and how will he respond to fighting at 154lbs. The latter of the two questions might have some questioning what this observer means by how he will respond.
It is important to keep in mind that Danny Garcia began his career as a 140lb. Jr. Welterweight. While it is not uncommon as a fighter progresses in their career to see that fighter move up in weight, the obvious question that will follow them from division to division is how they will respond to not only facing fighters who are theoretically bigger and naturally stronger than them, but how their body responds to taking punches from fighters with those theoretical advantages.
In Jose Benavidez, Garcia will face a veteran of twenty-nine professional fights with his only loss coming against WBO Welterweight world champion Terence Crawford in October 2018. Benevidez last fought in November of last year when he fought to a ten round majority draw against Francisco Torres. Despite his status as a former world title challenger, there are some that will likely view Garcia as a favorite over Benevidez. This will likely be due to Garcia’s higher profile, but the one thing that Benavidez has over Garcia is he has fought at 154lbs. before and has been a bit more active recently than his opponent.
At his best, Danny Garcia is a very compact puncher and has the ability to catch opponents in the midst of exchanges. This presents an interesting task for his opponents to combat. The challenge for Benavidez will be to avoid getting into exchanges with Garcia. A way this could be accomplished is by trying to box Garcia. Fighters such as Errol Spence and Shawn Porter were able to outwork Garcia by strategically picking their spots, but by also using movement to evade Garcia’s offense.
In contrast to Benavidez, Garcia must show that the move up in weight will not negatively affect him and must do so early in the fight. He must also avoid going into a defensive shell and allowing his opponent the opportunity to try and outwork him as the fight progresses. Garcia has twenty-one knockouts in his thirty-six career wins and even though he may not be known as a fighter with punching power, when he has caught his opponents with power shots and has been able to score knockouts, the results have been devastating. A question that will also be answered in this fight will be whether Garcia will have the punching power at 154lbs. as he did in the 147lb. Welterweight and 140lb. Jr. Welterweight divisions.
While it is tempting to talk about what may be ahead for Garcia should he win this fight now as a Jr. Middleweight, it is probably best to see how he fares in this first testing of the waters at 154lbs. before thinking too far ahead. Although the focus will be on Garcia, this could be a big opportunity for Benavidez to score a victory over a marquee name in the sport. Despite the spotlight being on Garcia, it is important to keep in mind that Benavidez'’ only loss came in a world championship fight where, despite coming out on the short end, he did give a good account of himself in defeat. Boxing is a sport of opportunity and if Garcia for whatever reason is not at his best, and/or does not respond well to fighting at Jr. Middleweight, the conditions could be right for what would be viewed as an upset if Benevidez were to score a victory in this fight.
“And That’s The Boxing Truth.”
Garcia vs. Benavidez takes place on Saturday, July 30th at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, NY. In the United States, the fight can be seen on premium cable network Showtime across cable/satellite teleco providers as well as streamed on the Showtime and Showtime Anytime streaming apps on mobile, tablet, and connected streaming devices/Smart TVs beginning at 9PM ET/6PM PT. For more information about Showtime including schedules and list of compatible streaming devices/Smart TVs please visit: www.SHO.com. For more information about the Garcia vs. Benavidez card please visit: www.PremierBoxingChampions.com.
*Check your local listings internationally.
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