This Saturday night at the Barclay Center, Showtime has a card that features a main event between Danny Garcia and Jose Benavidez that will be contested at junior middleweight. If this was pro wrestling, this would be dubbed a 'loser leaves town' match.
To put it bluntly, while the winner will move onto bigger and better things at 154, the other faces a rather bleak future.
There was a time when Danny Garcia was a highly decorated boxer. One that was a unified champion at junior welterweight who scored victories over Amir Khan, Zab Judah and Lucas Matthysse. But he was never quite the same guy after getting a very controversial hometown decision in Puerto Rico against Mauricio Herrera.
Still, the native of Philly was able to notch wins over the likes of Paulie Malignaggi, and then Robert Guerrero for the vacant WBC welterweight title, before losing a close fight to Shawn Porter in 2018. Since that point in time, he has fought just three times. His last outing coming in December of 2020, where he lost a 12 round decision to Errol Spence.
Garcia was a world-class junior welterweight, he was an effective welterweight, and now he's an unknown quantity as a junior middleweight at 34 years old. There was a time when his left hook could change a fight in an instant, but his power has waned as he has moved up in weight, while his fight have always remained firmly planted.
“It’s not about weight, it’s about skill. You don’t become a three-time world champion because you’re just bigger. It’s about skill and technique and that’s what we bring to the table," said Garcia, who can bolster his claim to be a Hall-of-Fame bound boxer with another title belt.
As for Benavidez, years ago he was this highly touted prospect who was forecast to win world title as he began his career under the Top Rank banner. I still recall about a dozen or so years ago as his father brought him to the Wild Card Boxing Club, that I saw a chubby guy that would always accompany him to the gym. My assumption was that was a family member who was there to lose some weight. It turned out to be David Benavidez (who was then well over 200 pounds) who has become the star that Jose was supposed to be.
That isn't to say that the older brother hasn't had a productive career, he did face Terence Crawford in 2018 for his WBO welterweight title, where he was stopped in the final round. Truth be told, Benavidez has never truly been the same guy since he was shot in the leg while walking his pets back in 2016 in Phoenix, Arizona.
Since that defeat to Crawford, he has fought just once. Last November he struggled to get a majority 10 round draw with Francisco Torres. Benavidez said of his last performance, "My last fight I was trying to do too much, and because of that, I didn’t do anything at all. Everything happens for a reason and I feel ready to fight. I know that I can beat the best at 154, it starts with Danny.”
The assumption is that this bout is being made to prop up Garcia (who is somehow rated number 5 at 154 by the WBC) to eventually face another PBC junior middleweight. Currently, all of the belts are around the waist of Jermell Charlo.
There is a clear design to this matchmaking. It will allow Garcia to dip his toe into the water at 154, while allowing Benavidez one last payday.
“I’m going to be really strong on Saturday,"promised Garcia. "This is a good weight class for me, especially at this point in my career. There’s a lot of good fighters in the division for me to fight.:
Speaking of the WBC, a few eyebrows were raised as their new ratings at welterweight revealed that Keith Thurman is now ranked number one by them. The WBC belt is held by unified champion, Errol Spence.
Back in 2017, Thurman was a unified champion in this division after defeating 'Swift' Garcia, and seemed to be destined for even bigger things. But since that point, he has fought just three times. To put this into further perspective, he didn't fight again till early 2019 (where he got past Josesito Lopez) and then was defeated by Manny Pacquiao later that summer.
That loss was followed by more than a two year hiatus from the ring. It wasn't till this past February where he scored a decision victory over Mario Barrios this past February.
So the question has to be asked: how does a boxer who has one victory since 2019 (against a blown up junior welteweight, who was coming off a knockout loss to a boxer who is now a lightweight -- Gervonta Davis) -- get put into the number one spot?
The cynical view is that this is a plot to consummate a bout between Thurman and Spence, in case the highly anticipated bout between Spence and Terence Crawford doesn't come to fruition. A bit of an insurance policy, if you will. Or maybe a way of leveraging Crawford to sign on the dotted line.
But you wonder if Spence is on board. Years ago when Spence was on the come up, Thurman basically shunned him, and scoffed at the possibility of them squaring off when he was the top dog in the division. Spence vowed to return the non-favor. Well, this is what he tweeted on Tuesday, which seems to be not-so-veiled message to certain people.
What comes around goes around,
This week on 'the 3 Knockdown Rule' on Triller with Mario Lopez, this week we discuss last weeks bout and preview Garcia-Benavidez. Also 'Ask Mario' and 'Final Flurries':
Before Showtime goes live on Saturday (9 pm, ET/6 pm, PT), their YouTube and Facebook page will air the bout between Sergiy Derevyanchenko and Joshua Conley, and Vito Mielnicki Jr facing Jimmy Williams....Heavyweight Adam Kownacki and rising junior welterweight, Gary Antuanne Russell, round out the Showtime broadcast....Blue chip prospects Keyshawn Davis and Bruce Carrington have been added to the September 23rd undercard in Newark that features the homecoming of unified 130 pound champion, Shakur Stevenson....I've been enjoying the 'Dark Side of the 90's' series on Vice...