Two-division world champion Danny ‘Swift’ Garcia returns to the ring to take on former world champion Brandon ‘Bam Bam’ Rios in a welterweight showdown on Saturday, February 17 live on SHOWTIME at the Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas and presented by Premier Boxing Champions.
In the co-feature, boxing’s youngest world champion David “El Bandera Roja” Benavidez will defend his Super Middleweight World Championship for the first time against Ronald Gavril in a rematch of their thrilling September 2017 bout in which Benavidez won the vacant title by split decision.
The card is promoted by Mayweather Promotions and TGB Promotions in association with DSG Promotions. The Benavidez-Gavril rematch is co-promoted by Sampson Boxing. Tickets for the live event go on sale Saturday, Dec. 23 at 10 a.m. PST and will be available at AXS.com.
“I’m excited just to get back in the ring,” said Garcia, who was reigning world champion for the better part of six years dating back to his win over Hall of Famer Erik Morales in 2012 through March 2017. “I needed the time off to recuperate and let my body heal.”
Garcia (33-1, 19 KOs) was a unified world champion at super lightweight and welterweight and has fought and defeated many of the most formidable opponents in both divisions spanning two generations-Morales, Zab Judah, Kendall Holt, Amir Khan, Lucas Matthysse, Paulie Malignaggi and Lamont Peterson among them. Four of his five opponents in the welterweight division were world champions and 10 of his last 14 opponents were world champions or former world champions.
“I was the reigning champion for six years, so I needed the rest,” continued the 29-year old Philadelphia fighter. “I’m ready to kick off the year in style and take over the welterweight division.”
In his last fight, a welterweight clash of world title holders, Garcia lost via split decision to now unified 147-pound world champion Keith Thurman in a hard-fought, exciting fight that aired live on CBS. The SHOWTIME BOXING on CBS broadcast drew the biggest boxing audience of the year, more than five million viewers which remains the largest audience to witness a primetime boxing broadcast since 1998.
Now, Garcia looks to re-establish his once dominant position at welterweight, a division that boasts more top-10 pound-for-pound fighters in the sport than any other weight class; fighters including world champions Errol Spence Jr., Thurman, Shawn Porter, Kell Brook, Lamont Peterson and more.
“What’s interesting in this fight with Brandon Rios is our styles. We both like to come forward. This kind of matchup will bring out the best in both of us. I’m excited to be back in Las Vegas. I’ve had some of my best performances and some of my biggest fights there. I beat Lucas Matthysse and Amir Khan in Vegas. You fight in Las Vegas, you’re a superstar,” added Garcia.
Like Garcia, Rios has fought many of the top welterweights of this era including world champions Timothy Bradley and Manny Pacquiao. The hard-nosed slugger from Oxnard, Calif., has 34 wins, 25 by knockout. The 31-year-old Rios always comes prepared to battle. With an aggressive style and granite chin, he is one of the most entertaining boxers in the sport. In his last fight he scored a TKO victory over Aaron Herrera on June 11. A victory over Garcia, a top-10 welterweight in his own right, would immediately change the course of Rios’ career and demand that he be placed among the top-ranked in the division.
“I’m excited to prove my critics wrong again,” said Rios. “I’m bring a ‘Bam Bam’ Rios slugfest to my fans. Danny is a great fighter, but I will beat him just like I have beat others in the past. I am focused and will make this a classic Mexican-Puerto Rican battle!”
“SHOWTIME is poised to start the year with two crucial welterweight main event matchups,” said Stephen Espinoza, Executive Vice President and General Manager of SHOWTIME Sports®. “Following the January 20th event pitting Errol Spence Jr. vs. Lamont Peterson, Garcia vs. Rios features two of the most battle-tested and ferocious 147-pound fighters in the world. Add in the Benavidez vs. Gavril II co-feature, a fight that is guaranteed to deliver dramatic action, and we are picking up right where we left off in 2017 delivering the most compelling and important matchups in boxing’s deepest divisions.”
“We’re looking forward to the action at Mandalay Bay Events Center in February,” said Leonard Ellerbe, CEO Mayweather Promotions. “Both Garcia and Rios are seasoned fighters that have faced the toughest competition in the welterweight division and they are both very hungry for a big win. The co-feature rematch between the youngest reigning world champion David Benavidez and challenger Ronald Gavril we already know will be thrilling. All four of these men have proven that they’ll put it all on the line in the boxing ring to leave no doubt about who the better man is. In addition, we are working on a crowd-pleasing undercard now. Everyone on this card will need to bring their ‘A game’ to Las Vegas in order to be victorious on February 17.”
“Danny Garcia is one of the most battle-tested, skillful boxers in the sport. What he did in running through the 140-pound division before moving up to welterweight is simply amazing,” said Tom Brown, President of TGB Promotions. “‘Bam Bam’ Rios is a throwback warrior. He never met a fight that he backed down from. Putting Garcia and Rios into the ring against each other promises nothing but fireworks in a match that should provide maximum entertainment for fans. It’s the kind of fight that belongs in Las Vegas, a classic battle that harkens to welterweight wars of the past. The first match between Benavidez and Gavril left enough room for doubt that a rematch should settle any remaining questions. I’d expect both boxers to come in with something to prove and that translates into a fan-friendly match.”
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