Needing a win to cement his status as the top WBC welterweight contender, Danny Garcia delivered.
Garcia, a former two-division champion, knocked out Brandon Rios Saturday night in the main event on Showtime from Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas.
The fight was the first for Garcia since a 2017 loss to Keith Thurman via split decision in a welterweight unification match. He improved to 34-1 overall and earned his 20th career knockout victory.
“I felt the ring rust a little bit in the beginning,” Garcia said. “He’s a good inside fighter and he was giving me some good uppercuts. I felt good, it was a good nine rounds. He came to fight. I came to box, I did that. I came to bang, and I gave the fans what they wanted – a knockout. I just noticed when I was getting my punches off he was standing right in front of me and I just let it go. As soon as I got the fight in the middle of the ring where I wanted I landed good shots. I was just letting my hands go and the punch landed.”
Thurman, the reigning WBA and WBC champion, could be next for Garcia. However, he could also meet Shawn Porter, who the WBC has ranked No. 1 in a meeting of former champions.
“The loss was tough. I have the mindset of a winner,” Garcia said. “I hate losing. I took it like a true champion and I bounced back like a true champion. I would love the rematch with Keith Thurman. It’s on him. Whenever he’s ready we’ll fight.”
Rios fell to 34-4-1 with the loss and was wishing the referee had given him the chance to get back on his feet.
“I’m mad. I don’t like going out like that,” Rios said. “I’m a warrior, I got back up and I wanted to continue. I guess they stopped it but I’m mad. I’m mad because I got up. I was doing good. I got lazy with the jab and he came over with the right hand and he caught me. I’m a warrior. I’m still in the game. I didn’t think he did much to hurt me. I think it was closer than what he thought it was. He just caught me with a lucky punch. I was ready to continue.”
David Benavidez retained his WBC super middleweight title with a decision victory over Ronald Gavril. Benavidez is now 20-0 in his career. Gavril fell to 18-3 with the loss.
“I knew he was going to come aggressive. He’s a one-trick opponent,” Benavidez said. “I knew I could jab and box him all day. When I saw the opening I took it. I didn’t knock him out though – he’s a tough son of a gun.
Yordenis Ugas knocked out Ray Robinson in hte seventh in an IBF welterweight title eliminator, moving to 21-3 with his 10th finish.
A replay of the card is scheduled for Monday night on Showtime Extreme beginning at 10 p.m. ET