The two-division world champion looks as good as ever in his 154-pound debut as he outpoints a game Jose Benavidez Jr. Saturday night atop a Premier Boxing Champions tripleheader on SHOWTIME.
In fact, “Swift” looked as good as ever in his ninth appearance at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center.
The counter punching, the body work, the quick head movement and combination punches were all on display as Garcia made a point with a brilliant, 12-round majority decision over Benavidez atop a SHOWTIME tripleheader in a Premier Boxing Champions event.
The 34-year-old Garcia (37-3, 21 KOs) won on the scorecards of judges Glenn Feldman (116-112) and Tony Paolillo (117-111) overruling Waleska Roldan’s 114-114 score.
“I did take a break, I was going through some mental things, I felt a little dark,” Garcia revealed, before being overcome by pangs of emotion. “I went through some anxiety and depression and I tried to do my best to stay strong.
“I think it was the pressure of life, the pressure of boxing, being a good dad. I’m letting it out right now, because I kept inside for a year-in-and-a-half. I still battle some days. I have some dark days, but I feel good now.”
Garcia hadn’t fought since losing a unanimous decision to undefeated, unified welterweight champion Errol Spence Jr. in December 2020. Against Benavidez, he boxed smartly from the opening bell and never relinquished control.
In the third round, Benavidez – who appeared to have a significant size advantage over the two-division champion – came alive with a right that caught Garcia on the side of his head.
By the fourth, Garcia had already landed 29 body shots. Benavidez simply could not catch him as Garcia worked the double jab to the head and body and followed up with combinations.
With one minute remaining in the fifth, Benavidez clipped Garcia twice, though that came after Garcia had pelted him with numerous shots, again working up and down.
“In order for me to be Danny Garcia, I had to be back in the ring and do what I love, to be a fighter,” Garcia said. “People ask me every day, you make good money boxing, why do you still fight? I feel like I’m a fighter, this is what I love to do.”
It showed. In the sixth, Garcia initiated the action with double jabs, controlling the pace and the distance. Benavidez’s frustration appeared to be growing. The onslaught continued in the seventh as the Philadelphia native slammed two straight rights into Benavidez’s face.
By the 10th, it seemed Benavidez needed a knockout. He tried going after Garcia, and in the final minute of the round, he lifted both in hands in frustration as Garcia stayed in the boxing mode. With :13 left, Garcia showboated a little for the crowd, swirling his right hand around as the final seconds ticked away. He shined in the last two rounds, unloading combinations to the delight of the Brooklyn crowd. The two fighters embraced at fight’s end.
“I’m happy with my performance, I thought I did a good job,” Benavidez said. “I’m fighting one of the best of the best. I took his punches. You see it didn’t hurt me. I honestly thought that I had won, but it is what it is. I’m not going to let this bring me down. A loss just makes you stronger.”
Indeed—and Garcia is proof of that.
Ali Eren Demirezen wins sixth straight with unanimous decision over Adam Kownacki
Adam Kownacki was coming off a pair of losses to Robert Helenius and looking to reclaim his place among the heavyweights to watch. Eren Demirezen was riding a five-fight winning streak. Both fighters kept their streaks going albeit in opposite directions.
Demirezen won his sixth straight with a 10-round unanimous decision over Kownacki in a fun back and forth.
It was the biggest victory in the career of Demirezen (17-1, 12 KOs) and he did it on enemy territory as the popular Polish-born Kownacki lives and fights out of Brooklyn.
“I overcame adversity,” Demirezen said. “We were both equally aggressive. I promised everyone a win, and that’s what the people got. I beat him in his hometown. “I want to be an inspiration and a role model for Turkish youngsters that were watching tonight. I hope I made them proud.
“I was nervous because he’s a strong fighter and I could be much better but it’s my first time here and he’d fought here before.”
Suffering his third-straight loss, Kownacki (20-3, 15 KOs) had said before the fight, “If I don’t win this fight, I lose it all.”
“I’m a bit rusty, I think he was getting off first in the exchanges, I didn’t’ sit down as much, I think the rust played a part, being out so long,” Kownacki said. “I was out of the ring since last October, camp was good but I don’t know, I was letting him get off first, I wasn’t moving my feet, I went back to the old me instead of the first few rounds when I was doing good.”
Kownacki started well, working a high-volume attack behind a consistent jab. Gradually, Demirezen began coming on in the fourth and fifth rounds. The 2016 Turkish Olympian unveiled his own jab and began backing Kownacki up. As the sixth round neared an end, Demirezen landed a big right on Kownacki left eye, which began swelling. By the ninth, it was nearly shut and bleeding, courtesy of Demirezen’s nonstop attack.
With the fight slipping away, Kownacki went after Demirezen, trying to close strong. Yet in the final minute of the fight, it was Demirezen landing solid rights, a constant throughout the fight.
“I have two kids, I’ll have a long talk with my wife to see what I want to do,” said a contemplative Kownacki. “I’ve had so many fights here, so many great memories, I don’t want to go out like a loser. I would like another fight to leave my fans with a win.”
Gary Antuanne Russell gets a great boost stopping Rances Barthelemy
Two-division world champion and smooth-boxing Cuban Rances Barthelemy was bound to pose problems for unbeaten rising super lightweight contender Gary Antuanne Russell. Further, Russell was fighting for the first time as a pro without his father, esteemed, late trainer Gary Russell Sr., who died in May after years of battling health issues.
For five rounds, Gary Antuanne had his struggles.
Then, with one punch, Russell ended it at :50 of the sixth round in a controversial finish.
Russell (16-0, 16 KOs) kept his knockout streak intact, while Barthelemy (29-2-1, 15 KOs) also gained with what was a fine performance.
“First and foremost, I want to thank God, I want to tell my father up above I did it for him, we’re going to keep it going for pops, I want to thank Showtime for letting me participate,” Russell said. “I know Rances was a high-grade class athlete and he wanted to continue. Emotions were high. Whether we or bruised or beaten, as a warrior, you always want to continue but the referee was doing their job and if he was allowed to continue it would have been the same outcome. I would have gotten him.”
Barthelemy, obviously, felt otherwise.
“No, they shouldn’t have stopped it,” he said. “I felt good, it was good shot, I’m not denying that, but they shouldn’t have stopped it. I got up and told him I’m fine and I’m good to go Of course I want the rematch, but with a different referee.”
Barthelemy, more noted as a boxer who uses his legs, stood and exchanged with Russell at the outset. It was a complete change from his past. With :47 left in the first round, Barthelemy landed a right on the jaw that stunned Russell.
Working from the southpaw stance, Barthelemy began doing damage with lefts. As the fourth round ended, he banged Russell with another strong left. The southpaw stance, which Russell never faced before as a pro, seemed to create some openings in Russell’s defense.
But as the fifth transpired, Russell found the range for the right hook—and precursor for what was to come.
Everything changed early in the sixth when Russell leaped in with a vicious right hook that landed on Barthelemy’s temple. The Cuban immediately lost control of his legs, tumbling to the canvas for the third time in his career. Referee Shada Murdaugh opted to end it at :50 of the sixth round although Barthelemy indicated to him that he was ready to fight.
“In the sixth round I had him backing up, I knew he was looking for his right cross,” Russell said. “I caught him backing up and I shot my hook and put him down, he was buzzed but he wanted to keep going. He’s a warrior.”
Both men were. Russell will have learned plenty from this encounter and Barthelemy showed he still has much to offer the sport.
Super middleweight Junior Younan (17-0-1, 11 KOs) stopped Dauren Yeleussinov (10-2-1, 9 KOs) at 1:47 of the first round, super featherweights Ricky Lopez (21-5-2, 6 KOs) and Joe Perez (16-6-4, 10 KOs) fought to a six-round majority draw and super welterweight Vito Mielnicki, Jr. (12-1, 8 KOs) beat Jimmy Williams (18-9-2, 6 KOs) on a corner stoppage at 2:12 in the seventh round of a scheduled eight-rounder.
Middleweight Sergiy Derevyanchenko (14-4, 10 KOs) got back on the winning side with a 10-round unanimous middleweight decision over Joshua Conley (17-4-1, 11 KOs) on the undercard, and junior middleweight Dwyke Flemmings, Jr. (2-0, 2 KOs) stopped Angelo Thompson (0-4) at 2:32 of the second round of a scheduled four-rounder.
Junior featherweight Miguel Roman (2-0) ruined the pro debut of Marcus Redd with a four-round unanimous decision, and super welterweight Ismael Villarreal (12-0, 8 KOs) opened the night by stopping the previously undefeated LeShawn Rodriguez (13-1, 10 KOs) at :26 of the sixth round.