Danny Garcia’s campaign for the world title in the third separate weight category got off to an auspicious start on Saturday night as he secured a major majority-decision victory over Jose Benavidez Jr. in his super welterweight debut at Barclays Center in Brooklyn.
The 34-year-old from North Philadelphia, a former unified champion at 140lbs who won the WBC title at 147lbs, made easy work of his taller, taller opponent, winning by scores of 116-112, 117-111 and (absurdly, In the view of ringside judge Velska Roldan) 114-114.
December 2020 marked Garcia’s first outing since a unanimous-decision loss to Errol Spence Jr., a span of nearly 20 months and the longest layoff of his career by some distance.
Fighting back tears, Garcia said, “I took a break while going through the mental things, things got dark, I went through anxiety, deep depression, just trying to get stronger.” “It was the pressure of life, being a good father, giving it up now, because it was all stuck inside.
It rained on me for a year and a half and the only way to do better was to fight again. I’m a warrior. If you fight with anxiety and depression, you can come out of it, that’s what I did today. I fought.”
Realizing himself after closing out third with an excellent four-punch combination, García ramped up his activity and appeared in total command in the fourth and fifth as Benavidez’s already lagging work rate further diminished.
And they started showing clear signs of despair. Garcia tackles the issue with hectic, rigid body work, using clever upper body movement to make it difficult to hit himself.
But after moving to welterweight in 2016 for the vacant WBC belt and outpointing Robert Guerrero, Garcia was unable to deliver a signature win against the division’s elite, in a title fight against Keith Thurman, Sean Porter and, finally, Spence. was coming down.
What reflects his long-term outlook is anyone’s guess. But Garcia’s opening statement at 154lbs, coupled with the new appearance of his mind regarding his well-being, is a promising start even in a fight without an eventual victory.