By Keith Idec
Danny Garcia feels refreshed.
The former welterweight and junior welterweight champion needed a mental and physical break from boxing following his split-decision defeat to Keith Thurman in their 147-pound title unification fight March 4. It wasn’t until about six months later that he started feeling the urge to fight again.
“I got a much-needed rest,” Garcia told BoxingScene.com. “I feel good, I feel fresh and I’m motivated, excited to go out there.”
When Garcia (33-1, 19 KOs) squares off with Brandon Rios (34-3-1, 25 KOs) on February 17, he’ll end nearly a one-year layoff, the longest break of his 10-year pro career. The 29-year-old Garcia welcomed the time away from grueling training.
“I was champion five, six years,” Garcia said. “It’s a lot of pressure. It’s a lot of hard work, a lot of dedication. Sometimes it’s good to just let your body rest and let your hard work show [in] your life, and that’s what I was doing.”
The Philadelphia native has felt refreshed since he started training late last year for his 12-round welterweight fight against Rios at Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas (Showtime).
“I feel like I needed to miss the sport a little bit, and I did,” Garcia said. “I’m motivated in jogging, sparring, training. I just feel good. This is a tough sport. Day in and day out, you’ve gotta be mentally strong and physically strong in this sport. You’ve gotta have passion for it, you’ve gotta be motivated.
“If you don’t have those things, you can’t be a top-level fighter. And you’ve just gotta know how to control it – know when to turn it on and when to turn it off. I had to just relax a little bit to make the comeback.”
Garcia isn’t concerned about ring rust holding him back when he encounters Rios, who’s a big underdog.
“I’ve been boxing for a long time,” Garcia said. “I’ve just gotta make sure I get some good sparring in, like I’ve been doing already, to knock off all that ring rust in the gym. But other than that, I feel good. I don’t think that’s gonna be a problem.”
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.