A renewed Danny Garcia sees ‘easy’ Thurman rematch beyond Rios
PHILADELPHIA — There was a little something different about the way he looked, the way he hit the punching bag, the way that little, smirky smile creased his face.
Danny Garcia looked thicker, hit the bag harder and was enjoying himself in a boxing gym for the first time in a long while. The former two-division former champ says he needed the rest after his loss — his first loss as a professional — to Keith Thurman 11 months ago.
Now, Garcia (33-1, 19 knockouts) is ready to resume his career, starting Saturday, Feb. 17, when he faces hard-hitting Brandon Rios (34-3-1, 25 KOs) in a scheduled 12-round welterweight fight on Showtime, which will also feature the David Benavidez-Ronald Gavril rematch for Benavidez’s WBC super middleweight title, from Mandalay Bay Hotel & Casino Events Center in Las Vegas.
“I was resting, chilling, enjoying my life and spending time with my family. I didn’t even watch boxing,” Garcia said during his workout, which took place a week ahead of fight night. “I learned a lot about the Thurman loss: One, you can’t leave the fight in the hands of the judges. I can’t worry about who’s in the division, and who’s who. I’m excited to get back into the ring and go to work. I’ve been in the gym for three-and-a-half months, because I thought I was going to fight in January or December.
“I was enjoying my life during the time off. I knew that I would be back sooner or later. This is going to be a new chapter in my life. The loss was a new thing to overcome, and the loss is definitely something that motivates me. February 17, I’m going to show everyone I’m one of the best fighters in the world. I like Vegas, it’s where the stars fight.”
As an opponent for Garcia, Rios is tailor-made. He’s 31, though has plenty of wear on his body. He suffered a ninth-round KO loss to Tim Bradley in November 2015 and has fought just once since then, stopping Aaron Herrera by seventh-round KO in June 2017. Rios is a straight-ahead brawler, and Garcia knows “Bam Bam” will try to muck it up and make it as ugly a fight as he can.
“I know it,” Garcia said. “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’m trying to end him. That’s the only way. It’s the only way.”
Angel Garcia, Danny’s father and trainer, had to step in, of course.
“Everyone Danny fights, he ends. Thurman is done, too. We want Thurman next, but we’ll take Brandon,” Angel said. “Danny was never hurt against Thurman. Thurman was the one who was hurt. But everyone tried to sugarcoat everything. There was a lot of bull—- going on in New York. Politics and everything going on. They called me a racist, and (Danny being criticized is) the way God wants it. God wants it to be tough on us, on Danny.
Danny, however, shook his head.
“I think true boxing experts and fans know what I’m about, and if you know boxing, they know Danny Garcia is a true boxing champion. And I have three world titles and I plan on coming back and winning more,” Danny said. “I watched (Rios’) fight against Herrera. He looked like he was determined. But the guy that he fought isn’t me.”
Danny hit the bag with a pop that was louder than anything yet. According to many who were with Garcia during sparring, he’s tuned up a number of his sparring partners.
“Danny is punching harder, and I think that’s because he’s finally grown into being a full welterweight,” Angel said. “The Thurman loss was everybody’s loss. I lost it for Danny, too. I was so zoned out and everything that was going on in the promotion, that it carried over into the fight. Danny didn’t start fighting against Thurman until the fifth or sixth round. I didn’t start getting him on him until the fifth or sixth round.”
Danny himself agreed — he lost the Thurman for all of the wrong reasons, and a major part of that responsibility falls on his late start.
“No doubt about it,” Danny said. “It was one of those nights when I started slow, which wasn’t my game plan. That falls on me. Thinking back, it killed me a lot. All I had to do was win one or two rounds in the beginning, and I would have beat him. I know it. I want to get through this one, and in time, in time, Thurman will be next. It will be easy. Thurman stopped fighting after the fourth or fifth round.
“I’m back. I’m happy to be in the gym again. It’s all coming together. I needed the time off to get myself together. I’m back to where I was before I lost to Thurman.”