For the first time in more than eighteen months, Danny Garcia was back in a boxing ring.

It wasn’t the best performance of his career nor a fight anyone is likely to watch again or even much recall going forward. For Garcia, what matters is the win and he got it. Where he goes from here at Jr. middleweight (or higher) is anyone’s guess but Jose Benavidez is behind him.

Garcia beat Benavidez by keeping it simple. Benavidez wasn’t able to match Garcia’s activity and Garcia kept a steady pace throughout. His right hand was well defended by Benavidez but the taller, larger man struggled to put together more than spot offense all night. The stiffness of Benavidez's right leg, a reminder of a gunshot wound, was as evident as it was against Terence Crawford. Benavidez flashed a good, long jab. He occasionally landed some big shots on Garcia. But the ability to close the gap on his first step just isn’t there and Garcia was able to exploit it.

After the fight, Garcia mentioned moving to a catchweight for a middleweight fight with Erislandy Lara. Is that where we’re headed?   

Futures: Garcia was asked about Tony Harrison, mentioned he’d fight anyone, but was very specific about Lara. He mentioned winning a middleweight belt and doing it at 155 lbs. That feels like a conversation already in progress. Lara is the WBA sub-titlist at middleweight (their primary champion is Gennadiy Golovkin) and the WBA has already said Lara would have to fight someone else for the full strap if Golovkin elects not to return to middleweight after he challenges super middleweight champion Saul Alvarez in September. 

That doesn’t mean Lara-Garcia can’t happen for whatever belt Lara still has before we get to all that. Garcia hasn’t been overly active in recent years but nothing that happened Saturday would preclude being back in the ring this year. Garcia didn’t look like a viable threat to Jr. middleweight champion Jermell Charlo but an aging Lara might be an interesting fight.

Danny Garcia is back to play out the back nine of his career. Saturday’s Showtime card opened with a promising talent on his own front nine.  

Russell Stoppage Streak Gets a Boost 

Gary Antuanne Russell fights need better officiating.

For the second fight in a row, a Russell fight ended with a highly questionable stoppage and this one was worse than the last. In February, Russell handed Viktor Postol his first stoppage loss in the closing second of the fight with Postol hardly out on his feet. This time, Russell dropped Rances Barthelemy with a great shot in the sixth but…

…Barthelemy got up quickly, walked it off as the ref counted to eight, and when the ref said walk to me he did. Referee Shada Murdaugh stopped the fight anyways. 

It was an absolutely awful stoppage, maybe the worst of 2022. 

The shame of it is we were seeing a good fight. Barthelemy rocked Russell twice in the first and kept landing good shots even as Russell built a lead on the cards. Would Russell have stopped him anyways? He might have but it does him no favors to get saddled with calls out of his control. Still, better to take the win. Where does Russell go from here?

Futures: Given the hint of controversy, they could always run this fight back but that feels unlikely. Russell is probably no more than two fights from a title shot at Jr. welterweight now that two belts have become vacant. Russell has a lot to like: he’s aggressive, he can punch, and he’s dead game to scrap. That said, he still gets hit more than he needs to and could learn to take something off his fastball. Against Barthelemy, Russell was loading up shot after shot where a little change in speed and direction might have got him where he wanted to go sooner. 

Russell is a work in progress but it doesn’t look like we’ve seen his best yet. When we get there, he could be one of the more exciting pressure fighters in the world.

Cliff’s Notes…

Adam Kownacki reached his ceiling in the Chris Arreola fight. He’s going to make good undercard fights for a bit longer but the wrong matchmaking could get him hurt badly…Didn’t get a chance to see the Chris Billam-Smith win over Issac Chamberlain but the reviews are phenomenal. Find it if you haven’t seen it yet.            

Cliff Rold is the Managing Editor of BoxingScene, a founding member of the Transnational Boxing Rankings Board, a member of the International Boxing Research Organization, and a member of the Boxing Writers Association of America.  He can be reached at