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. Photos by Scott Hirano, Chris Farina and Erick Ramirez.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The 21-year-old Benavidez (19-0, 17 KOs) became the youngest reigning world champion in boxing and the youngest 168-pound champion in history at 20-years, nine months old when he scored a split decision against Gavril to win the super middleweight title on September 8. The bout featured multiple swings of momentum, thrilling exchanges and a wild 12th round. Benavidez and Gavril pushed each other to deliver the best performance of their respective careers thus far.
On February 17, Gavril will get it.
Fighting out of Phoenix, Ariz., Benavidez had scored 10 straight knockouts leading up to the match against Gavril. His eight-round KO victory over Rogelio Medina put him position for the vacant title.
Gavril (18-2, 14 KOs) rose rapidly through the ranks by scoring seven straight victories including four by knockout since 2015. The 31-year-old Gavril was born in Bacau, Romania and now lives and fights out of Las Vegas. He fought a brilliant match against Benavidez, seizing control in the middle rounds and even dropping the young contender in the 12th with less than a minute left in the fight. Ultimately, it wasn’t enough as Gavril lost on two of the three judges’ scorecards.