The early 2018 boxing schedule continues to come together as we close down 2017, and now it’s official that Danny Garcia will return to action on February 17, as he main events on Showtime in a matchup with Brandon Rios.
In the co-feature, WBC super middleweight titleholder David Benavidez will rematch Ronald Gavril. The fights will take place at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas.
Garcia (33-1, 19 KO) hasn’t fought since his March 4 loss to Keith Thurman. The former two-division titleholder looks to get back on track in this fight with the brawler Rios (34-3-1, 25 KO), who last fought in June, beating Aaron Herrera, which was Rios’ first outing after a 17-month layoff.
Garcia, 29, says he took the time off to let his body recover.
“I’m excited just to get back in the ring,” he said. “I needed the time off to recuperate and let my body heal. I was the reigning champion for six years, so I needed the rest. I’m ready to kick off the year in style and take over the welterweight division.”
The 31-year-old Rios lost three of five fights between 2013 and 2015, culminating in a total wipeout loss to Tim Bradley in November 2015, where the durable, fearless Rios was stopped for the first time in his career.
He says he’s not looking to change anything, and that he’ll be the same Brandon Rios we’ve always seen.
“I’m excited to prove my critics wrong again,” said Rios. “I’m bringing a ‘Bam Bam’ Rios slugfest to my fans. Danny is a great fighter, but I will beat him just like I have beat others in the past. I am focused and will make this a classic Mexican-Puerto Rican battle!’’
Garcia likes the style matchup.
“What’s interesting in this fight with Brandon Rios is our styles. We both like to come forward. This kind of matchup will bring out the best in both of us,” he said.
The co-feature is arguably the more interesting fight of the two. In September, Benavidez (19-0, 17 KO) became the youngest titleholder in boxing with his win over Gavril (18-2, 14 KO), but it was a highly competitive fight that wound up a split decision.
Now, the 21-year-old Benavidez wants to make a firmer statement.
“This is a fight that my father, my team and I decided to take again to show everybody that I’m really the champion and there’s more to me than just being the youngest world champion,” Benavidez said.
“I feel like I’m the better fighter and I’m going to definitely show it this time. I learned from that first fight that he puts on a lot of pressure. He likes to throw at the same time that I’m throwing. There are a couple different approaches to take against that. It’s going to be a great night of fights.”
Gavril, 31, is obviously out to not just compete and surprise folks, but this time win and go home a world champion.
“I can’t wait to get into the ring again and take that belt,” said Gavril. “I learned his game plan quickly during the first fight, I blocked it well then, and I plan to do the same again. He has fast hands and power, I won’t take that from him, but I am prepared for whatever plan he comes in the ring with. I know I have what it takes to win this time. Preparing for this fight the second time around has been different, training has been more intense, and my team is preparing me to take him out once and for all. I can’t let him win.
“Some people said I won back in September, and were surprised by my performance. I thought it was close, and I thought the knockdown gave me the advantage to win. All I can do is be ready. I don’t think either of us will upset the fans on fight night.”