Jose Benavidez Jr. wasn’t the least bit surprised Danny Garcia chose him as the opponent for Garcia’s 154-pound debut.
Philadelphia’s Garcia has fought a long list of elite-level welterweights and junior welterweights during his 14-year professional career. Benavidez’s substandard performance in his last fight probably factored into Garcia’s decision, too, but Benavidez believes Garcia has made a matchmaking mistake.
The onetime welterweight contender considers his size a significant advantage against Garcia, who stands four inches shorter than the 6-foot Benavidez.
“I feel like he feels more comfortable [at 154 pounds],” Benavidez told BoxingScene.com. “As we get older, our bodies don’t lose weight as fast as we want it to. So, I feel like he feels comfortable at that weight, but that’s not the weight where he belongs, so we’ll see July 30th. I feel like he’s too small. I’m the bigger fighter, the stronger fighter. I spar my brother [David] and my brother fights at ’68. I walk around at 190 pounds.”
Garcia (36-3, 21 KOs) and Benavidez (27-1-1, 18 KOs) are scheduled to fight Saturday night in the 12-round main event of a “Showtime Championship Boxing” tripleheader at Barclays Center in Brooklyn.
The 30-year-old Benavidez moved all the way up to middleweight for his most recent action, which was his first fight in more than three years. His 10-round majority draw with Argentinean underdog Francisco Torres obviously wasn’t the result Benavidez envisioned in his return from a 12th-round, technical-knockout loss to WBO welterweight champ Terence Crawford (38-0, 29 KOs) in October 2018, but his shortsighted strategy during that match made Benavidez change his approach to training camp for his fight against Garcia.
“The last fight was at middleweight,” Benavidez said. “I was making 140 and 147, but I’m just a big dude. I’m 6 feet tall, so you’re gonna see much more power at ’54, with me going back to the basics, me going back to my jab. The jab is the key to everything, you know? It’s the key to winning the fight. Without the jab, there’s nothing. There’s no more focusing on just trying to go and rip the guy apart because the knockout’s gonna come on its own if I use my tools.”
Benavidez didn’t predict that he’ll become the first opponent to stop the 34-year-old Garcia inside the distance. The Phoenix native simply promised to be much more effective than he was when he struggled with Torres (17-4-1, 5 KOs), who was stopped in the fifth round of his subsequent bout by British prospect Hamzah Sheeraz (16-0, 12 KOs).
“I’m gonna put on a show – that’s for sure,” Benavidez said. “I’m gonna put on a great show. I don’t wanna say too much. You guys will see what’s coming. Like I said, I am the bigger guy and I am the stronger fighter. I guarantee you that, so we’ll see. You guys will just have to wait and see.”
Showtime will air two 10-round bouts before Benavidez boxes Garcia in the featured attraction of a tripleheader set to start at 9 p.m. ET.
Junior welterweight contenders Gary Antuanne Russell (15-0, 15 KOs), of Capitol Heights, Maryland, and Rances Barthelemy (29-1-1, 15 KOs, 1 NC), of Havana, Cuba, will open Showtime’s telecast. Adam Kownacki (20-2, 15 KOs), a heavyweight from Brooklyn, will battle Turkey’s Ali Demirezen (16-1, 12 KOs) in the co-feature.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.