Danny Garcia vs. Brandon Rios preview & analysis
By Harry Hogg: Former welterweight champion Danny Garcia will return to the ring this Saturday night against Brandon Rios on Showtime at the Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas. The bout scheduled for 12 is a final eliminator for the WBC belt. Garcia had originally turned down a fight with Shawn Porter late last year. And instead has opted for Rios.
Garcia (33-1, 19 KOs), will be fighting for the first time in almost a year since losing his undefeated record to Keith Thurman by split decision in their unification clash in New York last March.
The 29-year-old has an impressive resume and holds victories over the likes of Robert Guerrero, Paulie Malignaggi, Lamont Petersen, Erik Morales and Amir Khan.
Garcia will go into Saturday night as the strong favourite against the aggressive and hard-hitting former lightweight champ Brandon Rios.
Rios (34-3-1, 25 KOs), ended a 19-month hiatus from the ring last summer when he knocked out Mexican Aaron Herrera in the seventh round.
Prior to that, the 31-year-olds most notable fights at welterweight both ended in defeat. First a wide points loss to Manny Pacquiao in Macau, China back in 2013. And then two years later, Rios was stopped in the ninth round by Timothy Bradley in Las Vegas.
This weekend’s bout represents one final chance for Rios to reignite his career. But the question has to be asked, just how much does he have left?
For Garcia, victory is a must if he is to secure a rematch with Keith Thurman later this year. There have also been talks of a showdown with Terence Crawford.
One thing is for sure. Rios always entertains with his tenacious style, he will make Garcia uncomfortable, so expect an early onslaught from the man from California.
He will try to drag Garcia into a dogfight in the opening exchanges. But the Philadelphia fighter will find his rhythm after a long layoff and should then be too much for Rios who has folded in the past when faced with world-class opposition.
Garcia has the better skill set and superior mobility, he should be able to break Rios down in the later rounds and force the stoppage.
Prediction: Garcia wins via KO
In the co-feature bout, young superstar David Benavidez defends his WBC super middleweight title against Ronald Gavril, in a repeat of their epic fight of the year contender back in September.
Benavidez (19-0, 17 KOs), survived a 12th round knockdown to edge out Gavril via split decision. The victory meant that Benavidez became the youngest super middleweight champion in history at the age of 20.
However, rather alarmingly he seemed to fade late on in that fight, which led to questions over his conditioning.
But the 21-year-old would have learned a lot from the first contest, which was, without doubt, his toughest test yet. And Benavidez has promised a KO this time around.