Danny Garcia has heard and read comparable criticism countless times regarding his move to the 154-pound division.
Cynics question Garcia’s potential as a junior middleweight because they think the former 140-pound and 147-pound champion is too small for that division. Garcia wasn’t considered a big welterweight, but the Philadelphia native feels completely comfortable as he moves toward his 154-pound debut against Jose Benavidez Jr. on Saturday night at Barclays Center in Brooklyn.
“I never felt so good training,” Garcia told BoxingScene.com. “I’m fighting at my natural weight. It’s perfect. People are saying that because I started my career at 140 and then I fought at 147. But this is my natural weight. This is the weight I belong at, at this point in my career. So, people are just gonna have to wait and see, come July 30th, how big I am.”
The 34-year-old Garcia walks around at approximately 175 pounds when he isn’t training. Shrinking himself down an additional 28 pounds to the welterweight limit began draining him too much for each of his last three fights in that division.
“I would say the last three fights – [Adrian] Granados, [Ivan] Redkach and [Errol] Spence – those were probably my hardest times getting down to 147,” Garcia said. “I remember when I got to the Redkach weigh-in, I was a pound overweight. I had to lose a pound right there at the weigh-in. Nobody knew that, but it was definitely getting tougher.”
Garcia (36-3, 21 KOs) defeated Ukraine’s Redkach by unanimous decision in their 12-round welterweight bout 2½ years ago at Barclays Center. Ten months later, the unbeaten Spence out-pointed Garcia unanimously to retain his IBF and WBC welterweight titles at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas.
“I knew the Spence fight would be my last fight at 147,” Garcia said. “If I woulda beat him, I woulda been champion again and went up to 154. But either way, I knew that fight was my last fight at 147.”
The 5-foot-8 Garcia will face the most significant height disadvantage of his career, four inches, when he boxes the 6-foot Benavidez.
“You’ve just gotta use your head movement,” Garcia said, “use your feet, find openings, get his timing down and just start landing my punches.”
Their “Showtime Championship Boxing” main event will be Benavidez’s first legitimate junior middleweight match as well. He weighed in at 158¾ pounds for his last bout – a debatable, 10-round majority draw with Argentinean underdog Francisco Torres (17-4-1, 5 KOs) last November 13 at Footprint Center in Phoenix – but Benavidez (27-1-1, 18 KOs) has competed in the welterweight division for most of his 12-year professional career.
Phoenix’s Benavidez, 30, will fight for just the second time overall in almost four years when he squares off against Garcia.
Showtime’s coverage of this tripleheader is set to start at 9 p.m. ET.
Unbeaten junior welterweight contender Gary Antuanne Russell (15-0, 15 KOs), of Capitol Heights, Maryland, will box Cuba’s Rances Barthelemy (29-1-1, 15 KOs, 1 NC) in the 10-round opener of this telecast. Brooklyn’s Adam Kownacki (20-2, 15 KOs) and Turkey’s Ali Demirezen (16-1, 12 KOs) will meet in Showtime’s co-feature, a 10-round heavyweight bout.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.