After over one year and a half out of the ring totaling over 600 days, former unified junior welterweight and welterweight champion Danny “Swift” Garcia (36-3, 21 KOs) will be moving up to 154-pounds to take on Phoenix, Arizona's Jose Benavidez Jr (27-1-1, 18 KOs).
The last time fans saw Garcia inside the squared circle, he was on the losing end of a unanimous decision at the hands of Errol Spence. It wasn't the first time Garcia saw his opponent get their hands raised against him, but against Keith Thurman and Shawn Porter, there was a sense of effort and belief that he had won. Against Spence, Garcia seemed to be going through the motions, and it wasn't until the 12th round that he attacked the Texan in a manner that indicated that he wanted to win.
Garcia is still an important name in boxing, and the fight with Benavidez is sure to have a large crowd in attendance at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn. My reaction when Garcia first announced his return wasn't excitement but instead nothing but sheer apathy. Why should any boxing fan care?
There is the human element of someone having boxed for most of their life, and now they have reached a point where they may accomplish everything they set out to do and don't have the same motivation to go to the gym. “The time off was very important,” Garcia said at the media workout for his fight with Benavidez. “After you've been fighting for a long time, I've been fighting world champions for the last ten years; I realized that my body felt great, but my mind felt foggy. It felt tired. It didn't feel sharp. I knew that I needed my mind to rest, have some fun, and spend some time with my family.
“I needed time to enjoy everything that I worked so hard for, start to miss the game of boxing, and then come back strong. I think that's what I've done.” While the Philadelphia-based Puerto Rican may have felt a lack of desire or motivation for boxing following his loss to Spence, he isn't exactly James Toney when it comes to activity. He hasn't fought more than two times in one year since 2012.
On multiple occasions after losses, Garcia has taken extended layoffs. Following his loss to Keith Thurman in March 2017, he didn't step back in the ring until almost a year later against Brandon Rios. After losing Shawn Porter in September 2018, Garcia returned to fight just once in 2019 against Adrian Granados.
There is a pattern to Garcia's method after losses; fighting Benavidez continues that trend. Benavidez hasn't won a fight in four years, last having his hand raised in June 2018. In October 2018, he was stopped in the 12th round by Terence Crawford in a fight where his right knee was an issue after he was shot through the femoral artery in 2016. After the loss to Crawford, Benavidez didn't return to the ring for more than three years.
Benavidez made a comeback in November 2021 and fought Argentinian Francisco Torres to a draw in a 10-round junior middleweight match. Benavidez isn't ranked in the top 15 of any of the four major sanctioning bodies, and a win over him won't launch Garcia directly into a title fight. Even if Garcia does walk away with a victory over the Phoenix native, what will the plan be for the rest of 2022? Will he only fight once this year?
Sure, I may be hating on this fight and Danny Garcia. Sometimes it's vital in a sports world where the media gives takes on a daily basis to let things play out. Garcia-Benavidez could turn out to be a tremendous action-filled fight. Benavidez can pull off the upset, but the fight feels like it's a filler between more important fights. If Garcia is supposed to be considered one of the better fighters of the last ten years with a chance to get into the International Boxing Hall of Fame, then he should be held to a higher standard.
I'll tune in to Showtime on Saturday night to watch the Garcia-Benavidez card, especially with its solid undercard featuring Adam Kownacki, Gary Antuanne Russell, and Sergiy Derevyanchenko. However, Danny Garcia's return doesn't move the needle for me, and until he decides to become a full-time fighter again, he falls in the category of just a name than a contender.