Former two-division titleholder Danny Garcia returns to the ring Feb. 17 to face former lightweight titlist Brandon Rios in a scheduled 12-round bout at Mandalay Bay Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas following a long layoff, and he feels refreshed.
Garcia (33-1, 19 KO's), of Philadelphia, hasn't fought since last March when he suffered his first professional defeat at the hands of Keith Thurman in a highly-anticipated welterweight unification fight by split decision. Following the loss, the 29-year-old needed a mental and physical break from the sport.
"I was just resting, just chilling, enjoying my life just being a regular person for a few months and spending time with my family," Garcia said. "That's basically it. That's all I did. I didn't even watch boxing."
Although Garcia still believes he got the best of Thurman, there were still valuable lessons learned.
"I learned that you can't leave it in the hands of the judges," Garcia said with a laugh and a smile. "Gotta go for the kill. But it is what it is. It was a close fight, could have went either way. They gave it to him."
Garcia expected to return to the ring by December or January, but things didn't come to fruition. However, he stayed loose in the gym, and has been working on polishing his boxing skills, as well as his knockout power.
"I've been working on boxing and I've been working on banging," he added. "If I feel like I'm way stronger than him [Rios], then I'm just going to go in there and get him out of there. If not, then we ready for 12 rounds or less."
Garcia has had a number of highlight-reel moments over the course of his career, but the one that stands out the most was his fourth-round TKO of Amir Khan. Garcia timed the former world champion with a beautiful counter left hook that sent him crashing to the canvas near the end of the third round to set up the stoppage.
Will we see vintage Garcia or will we see the version of him that got outboxed by the likes of Mauricio Herrera and Lamont Peterson?