Danny Garcia dominates Benavidez in 154-pound debut

Danny Garcia still knows how to fight.

In his first bout in nearly two years and his first as a junior middleweight, the former world champion picked up a 12-round majority decision win Saturday over Jose Benavidez Jr. at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York.

Garcia appeared to have cruised to a one-sided win, but one judge scored the fight 114-114. Thankfully, they were overruled by scores of 117-111 and 116-112.

"In order for me to be Danny Garcia, [I'm] gonna have to be back in the ring," Garcia said. "I had to do what I love and be a fighter."

And Garcia (37-3, 21 KOs), of Philadelphia, who captured world titles at 140 and 147-pounds, did just that against Benavidez.

According to Compubox, Garcia landed 233 of 746 punches (31 percent), while Benavidez connected with 117 of 600 shots (20 percent).

By the fourth round, Garcia dropped his hands and begged Benavidez to throw something meaningful. However, the Phoenix-based fighter, a former secondary junior welterweight titlist, did no more than stick his tongue out at his adversary.

Benavidez finally connected with some solid punches in the ninth frame, but Garcia connected with 77 punches over the next three rounds to seal the victory. However, that didn't come without a preposterous claim from his opponent.

"I took his punches like nothing," Benavidez, the brother of unbeaten WBC super middleweight world champion David Benavidez, added. "As you could see, they weren't hurting me. I honestly felt like I thought I won, but it is what is."

The victory was Garcia's first in 18 months following a 12-round unanimous decision over Ivan Redkach in January 2020. During his reign at 140-pounds, he beat big names like Amir Khan, Zab Judah, Lucas Matthysse, and Erik Morales. However, he was unable to replicate that success as a welterweight. Although he beat Robert Guerrero to win the WBC title vacated by Floyd Mayweather Jr., he dropped every meaningful fight after that point, losing to Keith Thurman, Shawn Porter, and Errol Spence Jr., who served as his most recent opponent in December 2020 before Saturday evening.

Former junior middleweight champion Tony Harrison, a fellow Al Haymon-managed fighter, told Showtime he's ready for a crack at Garcia.

"If we talk about somebody that generates money for the sport, it's Danny Garcia," Harrison stated. "But who's he going to jump in front of? He ain't ready for [undisputed champion Jermell] Charlo yet."

Garcia said he would like a rematch with Thurman or Erislandy Lara at a 155-pound catchweight. But on this night, he was just happy to be back where he belongs.

"I feel like I'm a fighter," Garcia said. "This is what I do."

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