Danny Garcia returns, knocks Brandon Rios out

Photo credit: German Villasenor


Returning from his first career defeat, former two-division titleholder Danny “Swift” Garcia emphatically knocked out Brandon Rios in the ninth round on Saturday night. The welterweight contest was the main event of a Showtime/Premier Boxing Champions tripleheader from the Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino Events Center, in Las Vegas, Nevada.


“He was just standing in front of me and I just let the straight right hand go,” Garcia told Showtime’s Jim Gray in the post-fight interview. “As soon as I got the fight into the middle of the ring, in the later rounds, then I took it to the middle and landed good shots.”


Photo credit: German Villasenor


The knockout was as thunderous as it was abrupt. Late in the ninth, the two fighters had just been separated by referee Kenny Bayless, then Garcia threw a right hand as Rios just stood there in front of him. It folded the 31-year-old action fighter like a cheap suit. Rios got up just in time to beat Bayless’ count but, after stumbling toward him, Bayless rightfully waved off the bout at the 2:25 mark.


Photo credit: German Villasenor


“I’m good,” Rios slurred afterward. “I’m mad because I didn’t want to go out like that. They can stop it in when I’m almost fucking dying. I’ll die in that ring.”


Garcia 34-1 (20), looked sharp from the onset, measuring with the jab but quickly able to land flush lefts and right hooks in front of an opponent who rarely moved his head. Rios had active hands but his punches in bunches could be seen from a mile away. In the third, Rios, 34-4-1 (25), landed his cleanest right hand of the fight but Garcia took it well and paid it back by round’s end. Going into the middle rounds, however, Rios stayed persistent with his pressure and, in the times, he trapped Garcia against the ropes, had enough success to keep himself in the fight. Garcia used the ring well to get away when he could but never showed any signs of being rattled after a Rios rally. In the seventh, Garcia started to time a right hand counter that was catching Rios flush to the head and, through the following round, started to put together combinations that peppered his counterpart into a shell. Rios, Oxnard, California, is known for his ability to take a punch but he was saved from proving his toughness even further.


Photo credit: German Villasenor


“I felt the ring rust a little bit in the beginning,” Garcia admitted. “My eyes weren’t as sharp as I wanted them to be. He’s a good inside fighter and he was giving me some good uppercuts and things like that…I felt good. It was a good nine rounds. He came to fight. I was prepared for it and gave the fans what they wanted: a knockout.


“I took the loss (to WBA/WBC welterweight titlist Keith Thurman) like a true champion and came back like a true champion. I would love the rematch with Keith Thurman but it’s on him,” he later proclaimed. The broadcast ended with “Showtime” Shawn Porter calling out Garcia in the ring and the Thurman – who handed Danny his only loss – sitting ringside. Garcia will certainly find himself in the competitive fray of the welterweight division, now that his return fight from an 11-month layoff is out of the way.


David Benavidez handed a beating to Ronald Gavril in their rematch, earning a wide unanimous decision (120-108 twice, 119-109) win, to defend the WBC super middleweight title for the first time in the Showtime co-feature.


Photo credit: German Villasenor


“I knew (Gavril) was gonna come in aggressive,” said Benavidez afterward. “He’s a one-trick type of pony – he doesn’t know how to do anything but pressure. I used that to my advantage and jabbed, out-boxed him all day. When I saw the opening, I took it. I didn’t knock him out but he’s a tough son-of-a-gun.”


Benavidez, 20-0 (17), showed the camera two sore hands in the post-fight interview. A blistered left hand and a swelling right knuckle were the results of battering Gavril for the extent of the 12 rounds. With an authoritative jab all night, Benavidez, 21, showcased a destructive boxing display, with a versatile power right that came from a wide array of directions. Benavidez would circumvent Gavril’s guard with right hands, uppercuts and straight right counters that were precise and resonant.


Gavril, 18-3 (14), took the punches well but had no answer for Benavidez’s attack early in the fight. In the first minute of the fourth, Benavidez landed a beautiful counter left hand that sent Gavril into the ropes and close to falling to the mat. It was one of the few times Gavril seemed seriously hurt in the fight but his toughness willed him to recover by round’s end and continue to come forward through the middle rounds. In the eighth, Benavidez focused on Gavril’s body and forced the Romanian to spit his mouthpiece out for the last minute of the round. Because of Gavril’s drive and ability to take a clean shot, the one-sided affair maintained good, clean, entertaining action throughout. Gavril’s only option late was suffocating pressure and, around the ninth round, Benavidez slowly refrained from using his right. In the final round, he threw it just once and still managed to win the 12th with just his jab.


Photo credit: German Villasenor


“I want to be the best in the division, so whoever they put in front of me, that’s what I’m going to do,” Benavidez said about his future.


In the opening bout of the Showtime telecast, Yordenis Ugas scored a technical knockout of Ray Robinson, after referee Robert Byrd waved it off in the seventh round. The IBF welterweight eliminator was scheduled for twelve.


Photo credit: German Villasenor


Ugas, 21-3 (10), showcased a right hand that couldn’t miss and, in the fateful seventh, it countered Robinson to the chin, to drop him hard for a knock down. Robinson, 24-3 (12), got up from the brutal shot and was allowed to continue. Once Robinson was trapped in a corner moments later, Byrd didn’t like the situation and waved it off, while Robnson was on his feet. Ugas, who scored a knockdown in the first round with the same punch, fell to his knees in celebration as Robinson aired out his grievances with Byrd.




You can reach Michael Baca II at mikebaca2@gmail.com and follow him at twitter.com/mikebaca2




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