Danny Garcia knocks out Brandon Rios, sends message to welterweight division
Garcia looked as game as ever by knocking out Rios in the ninth round on Saturday night
In his first fight since narrowly losing a welterweight title unification bout last March, Danny Garcia delivered the boom in violent fashion.
Garcia (34-1, 20 KOs) re-established himself among elite fighters at 147 pounds by knocking out a game Brandon Rios with one right hand in Round 9 of their Premier Boxing Champions bout at the Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas.
If Saturday's bout was designed as a get-well offering for the former two-division champion Garcia, it was a recharged Rios (34-4-1, 25 KOs) who made him work for it by brawling forward throughout. Rios' recklessness left him open for counter shots, however, and Garcia made him pay in a big way.
"I felt the ring rust a little bit in the beginning. I wasn't as sharp as I wanted to be," Garcia said. "He's a good inside fighter and he was giving me some good inside cuts. It was a good nine rounds. He came to fight but I was prepared for it. I came to box, and I did that. I came to bang, and I gave the fans what they wanted with a knockout."
Garcia, 29, whonearly 12 months ago, followed up on a jab with a perfect counter right that savagely turned Rios' chin and set him sprawled out on his back. Although Rios was able to make his feet, referee Kenny Bayless took his time and ordered Rios to walk forward before waving off the fight at 2:25 of Round 9.
"I noticed that when I was getting my punches off, he was standing in front of me and I just let it go," Garcia said. "I couldn't get him out early because I was giving him the benefit of the doubt by letting him come forward. As soon as I got the fight in the middle of the ring like I wanted in the later rounds, I took it to the middle and landed a good shot."
Rios, 31, returned to the ring last June after a 2015 stoppage loss to Timothy Bradley Jr. sent him into retirement. But reunited with trainer Robert Garcia following a one-fight departure, Rios was in visibly better shape and looked like his prime form of old as a former lightweight titleholder by mixing up his offense and crowding Garcia.
Although Rios, a veteran of countless action fights, outperformed expectations in making things uncomfortable for Garcia, he was forced to accumulate heavy damage to stay competitive. Rios noticeably slurred his speech during the post fight interview, in which he largely complained about the stoppage.
"I'm mad because I don't go out like that; I'm a warrior and I got up," Rios said. "I'm ready to continue but I guess the corner stopped it, but I'm f----- mad. I'm mad. I know they love me and everything but I got up fine. They can stop it when I'm f----- dying. I'll die in that ring. That's where I'm mad. I'm mad because I got up.
"I was doing good. I got lazy with the jab and he came over with the right hand and caught me. It was my fault."
After the fight, Garcia's interview was interrupted in the ring by former welterweight titleholder Shawn Porter, which set off a profanity laced argument that ended with both fighters being separated.
"You want some work too?" Garcia yelled in Porter's face. "I'll come spar your ass and beat your ass for free. We can take it in the street if you want to."
Garcia then turned his attention to Thurman, who seated at ringside. Thurman (28-0, 22 KOs), who owns a pair of welterweight titles, is fresh off of elbow surgery and after an upcoming spring comeback fight has shown interest in rematching Garcia later this year.
"No doubt, I would love the rematch with Keith Thurman," Garcia said. "But it's on him. Whenever he is ready, we can fight. I took the loss like a true champion and I bounced back like a true champ."
One name Garcia didn't mention was IBF welterweight titleholder Errol Spence Jr. (23-0, 20 KOs), which drew the ire of the pound-for-pound ranked fighter on social media as he watched the fracas with Porter.
As far as Rios is concerned, the wild brawler says he plans to fight on and not retire.
"I'm a warrior and whatever my advisor gives me, I'm ready for," Rios said. "I'm still in the game. I don't think he did too much to hurt me. I think it was closer than what he thought it was."
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