A new weight division to conquer was always in the cards from the moment Danny Garcia was ready to resume his career.
The former lineal junior welterweight champion and WBC welterweight titlist is now set to take on the best challenges that await the junior middleweight division. His debut comes more than 19 months after his December 2020 twelve-round, unanimous decision defeat to unified welterweight champ Errol Spence Jr. (28-0, 22KOs), which he viewed as his last piece of business in the division.
“I was the 140-pound champion. I went to 147, fought the best at welterweight,” Garcia noted during the latest installment of The PBC Podcast with co-hosts Kenneth Bouhairie and Michael Rosenthal. “I felt like staying at that weight was a step back.
“My dream was always to be a three-division world champion. I feel like this is the perfect time for me to go up to 154.”
Jermell Charlo (35-1-1, 19KOs) serves as the division's undisputed champion, though already armed with a swarm of mandatory title defense obligations.
Philadelphia’s Garcia (36-3, 21KOs) will now fight at a new weight but in familiar surroundings. The 34-year-old Garcia makes his 154-pound debut versus Jose Benavidez Jr. (27-1-1, 18KOs), a former secondary junior welterweight titlist and welterweight title challenger, atop a July 30 Showtime tripleheader from Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York.
The fight comes as Garcia approaches 15 full years in the pros, having weighed 143 pounds for his November 2007 debut and hovering just above the 140-pound limit until he was ready to compete for regional titles. By 2012, Garcia claimed his first major title in a twelve-round win over WBC junior welterweight titlist Erik Morales before knocking out the legendary four-division champ in their October 2012 rematch atop the first-ever boxing event at Barclays.
Garcia remained at junior welterweight until 2015, moving up to welterweight and winning a belt less than a year later. At the weight came his three defeats, though against the class of the division in Keith Thurman, Shawn Porter and eventually Spence.
Competition wise, there was little left to prove at welterweight. The move up to 154, however, was just as much a physical necessity as it is to further advance his already well-established career.
“I checked my weight before I fought Spence. I was 185 pounds,” admitted Garcia. “A lot of people think I’m small because I fought at 140. I squeezed myself down to make weight because I’m naturally a big guy. I will say when I’m in the gym and working out, my walkaround weight is 170. I would say my walkaround weight is 170 to 175.
“I feel a lot stronger (at 154). I don’t have to kill myself to make weight. I don’t have to sacrifice as much. All I have to do is put hard work in, eat good food and just be happy. This point in my career, I have to be happy while I’m training. I can’t be miserable while losing weight. The sky’s the limit.”
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox