Back from a mental break, Danny Garcia is back to his “old” self and hungry for another world title

More than a third of Danny Garcia’s 39 professional bouts were against men who at some point in his career held a world championship (in one case, an interim world title). He went 2-3 in those fights with four knockouts, proving that this is a man who was underrated in his prime.

Garcia never really got a huge fight against Floyd or Mayweather or Pacquiao, but his resume is way the best at 140 and 147 pounds of the last decade.

He was one of Premier Boxing’s “Big Four” welterweights along with Errol Spence Jr., Shawn Porter and Keith Thurman. He lost all three of those fights, the only defeats in another career, although the fights with Thurman and Porter were both close and entertaining.

Garcia has not fought since dropping his only round of 2020, a unanimous decision loss to Spence in Arlington, Texas on December 5, 2020.

“I just needed some time off,” Garcia told Yahoo Sports. “Mind, I was kind of burned out. I am quite exhausted mentally and feeling that it is not appropriate to fight in the mental body. But I got hungry. It’s been a rough year for me with the pandemic and other things going on. So I needed a break but I feel like I’m back to my old self now.”

At 154 pounds and his move will be Jose Benavidez Jr. on Saturday at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York, on Showtime.

On paper, it’s a curious decision because he walked up to 154 pounds and fighters in a significantly larger division. Firm competitor Jermell Charlo is a 6-foot-4 forward with a five-inch leg advantage. He’s going to give up his height and fight more opponents at 154 a night, spending more time in the ring than most.

This is the kind of mountain he has to climb to get where he wants to be, to get back to the championship level.

But he insists, not just to return for another payday or two, but to win the world title. Benavidez’s first step is past him, and he said he’s going into Saturday’s fight much more aggressively than he has at similar points in his last three bouts.

“I’m eating right, I’m doing more weights, and I feel like I have more stamina, and I can keep the weight off better,” he said. “I feel this is a more natural weight for me, and I have the strength to compete here.”

Two-division world champion Danny Garcia says he's ready to take on the challenge of the welterweight division.  (Photos by Amanda Stephanus/Showtime)

Two-division world champion Danny Garcia says he’s ready to take on the challenge of the welterweight division. (Photos by Amanda Stephanus/Showtime)

Garcia was probably in pro 2012 and 2013 when he fought mostly at lightweight. In the last two years he was 5-0 with two KOs and defeated Eric Morales twice, Amir Khan, Zab Judah and Luke Matthysse.

Garcia was a good fighter for most of the last decade but he was not a dominant fighter with sharp punches in these five fights. So it’s a huge challenge after a decade to get that size back in the biggest weight class of his life.

One of the things that has separated him from the bad guys throughout his career is his willingness to fight for the best. He had a special attitude to walk in the ring with the chosen ones, and Garcia always had. That’s what he plans to bring to fights now that he’s a super welterweight.

“Know that you have skills in your heart and put yourself to work,” Garcia said. “If you’re going to fight with these guys, you can’t have doubts and you’ll remove the doubts by putting in the work in the gym.

“I really worked in these camps. The time off helped me because I lost the gym, I lost everything about it. Now I’m back where I feel like I am and I’m motivated to show everyone what I’ve done.

Benavidez is 27-1-1 and will be in only his second fight above welterweight when he meets Garcia on Saturday. It’s almost a repeat that Garcia doesn’t have, but Garcia isn’t fooled.

Benavidez gave Terence Crawford problems early in their fight before Crawford slowed him down and Garcia is looking forward to an elite and hungry opponent.

“Guido is very skilled and comes to fight,” Garcia said. “I feel that I have more experience and I have fought at a higher level and for longer, but I will fear him and that is why I trained so hard. He’ll push me, but I’m confident in the work I’ve done that I’m going to put on a good show.

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