Garcia: I feel stronger at 154, Charlo and Lara possible options later


Danny Garcia is set to make the move up to the 154 lb division, as the 34-year-old looks to chase a world title in a third division.

Garcia, who hasn’t fought since his Dec. 2020 loss to Errol Spence Jr, will face Jose Benavidez Jr in a July 30 Showtime main event for his next outing.

He spoke with the PBC Podcast this week about the move up, how he’s feeling being back in the gym, Spence vs Crawford down at 147, and who he might look to fight going forward at 154.

On making his return to the ring

“I’m really excited. I’m happy, I feel fresh, I feel well-rested, and I think that’s the most important thing for me right now in my career, just feeling good and well-rested. I’ve got a lot of energy in the gym. … It feels like I never left.”

On the decision to move up to 154

“I was a 140 lb champion, I won (a title) at 147, I fought the best at 147. I feel like just staying at that weight is taking a step back for me. My dream was always to be a three-division world champion and I feel like this is the perfect time to go up to 154.”

On feeling stronger at the weight: “I feel a lot stronger, I don’t have to kill myself to make weight, I don’t have to sacrifice as much. All I have to do is put hard work in, eat good food, and just be happy. Like I said, at this point in my career, I gotta be happy when I’m training. I can’t be miserable losing weight. Once I’m happy and I feel good, the sky’s the limit.”

On his walk-around weight: “I checked my weight before I fought Spence, and I was 185 lbs. (laughing) A lot of people think I’m small because I used to fight at 140, but a lot of people don’t know, I’m a naturally big guy. I squeeze myself down to make weight. But I would say when I’m in the gym and I’m working out, my walk-around weight is 170. … Losing weight’s always a process, mentally and physically. You gotta be built for it. I’ve been doing it my whole life, so it doesn’t really bother me, but at this part of my career, I just gotta worry about being happy and training hard, giving it everything I’ve got.”

On training differently: “We’re gonna spar bigger guys. I’m doing a lot more strength and conditioning. I used to do strength and conditioning three times a week, now I’m doing it five times a week. I want to build more muscle, I want to build more strength. I think that’s gonna help me a lot going up in weight.

On Jose Benavidez Jr

“I’ve been watching him since — he was fighting at 140 when I was the (WBA) champion at 140, I think he was the regular champion. I’m a fan of boxing so I always watch who’s new, who’s coming up, who’s around. I always watch him and his brother. I think he was on the scene first. I’m pretty familiar with his style, I know what he brings to the table.”

On concerns about having ring rust

“I’ve been boxing for 24 years. This is my 40th professional fight. In the beginning (of training), it’s always a little tough getting back in the ring. You’ve been out of the ring for so long, so those first couple sparring sessions are a little tough, but after that I feel like it’s kinda like riding a bike. When you’ve been boxing so long, I don’t feel like ring rust affects you.”

On fighting at Barclays Center again

“I love fighting at Barclays, that’s my home away from home. I was the first world title fight there. The atmosphere is great, the fans — the people in Brooklyn love boxing. I can’t wait to feel that atmosphere again.”

On Jermell Charlo at 154 lbs

“He’s been at that weight his entire career. He’s a big guy, he’s beat all the fighters at that weight class. He had all the right fights, he beat all the right guys, and he just works hard. When you work hard, you win. I can’t take nothing away from him. We definitely wanna be champion again at 154. So if he has the titles, we fight him.”

On Erislandy Lara as another possible opponent

“Lara said wants to fight me. I know he’s got (a secondary) middleweight belt, and he says he’ll fight me at a catchweight. After this fight, we get this W, I’d fight for a middleweight title at 155. I think it’s real realistic. He said my name, I think it’s a great fight. He has a great résumé, I have a great résumé. I think that’s a great fight. But right now we’re worried about Jose Benavidez, but I think that’s an easy fight to make. He’s with PBC, I’m with PBC. There’s really no in-betweens.”

On what he sees happening in 2022 and 2023

“I would love to win the fight in good fashion, show the fans I’m still here and a force to be reckoned with. I’ve been here 10 years at this level, since 2012 fighting nothing but the best. I fought, what, 15 world champions, I’ve been in 10 world title fights. And it feels like I’m still getting started. In a perfect world, I’d like to get this victory in good fashion, and I’d like to fight Lara next or anyone at 154, then we’ll see.”

On Errol Spence Jr’s win over Yordenis Ugas

“I think he did a great job. I knew that fight was going to play out like that. A lot of people told me it was gonna be a good fight, but I knew Ugas’ style, he stands in front of you, and I knew Spence was gonna punish him. He did exactly what I thought he was gonna do. It was a great win.”

On how Spence vs Terence Crawford will go

“That’s a good fight stylistically. It’s definitely a 50-50 fight. Spence is the bigger, busier guy. I think he’s physically stronger, he’s mentally strong. Both fighters are mentally strong. I feel like whoever wants it more that night is gonna get it. It’s a great matchup, and you know, when the fans want a fight, and you’re already rich, you might as well just fight. Get it on.”

On what motivates him to keep fighting

“When I took that year off of boxing after the Spence fight, I was a little mentally tired. I’m not gonna lie, I was a little mentally tired, I was a little physically tired. But when you’ve been fighting your whole life — it kinda just dawned on me one day, and I was, like, ‘You know what? I’m a fighter.’ This is what I do. This is what I was born to do, and this is what I’m probably gonna do for the rest of my life.

“I’m not saying I’m gonna box until 50 like Bernard Hopkins, because that’s unheard of, he is ‘The Alien’ for a reason, and he is a great fighter for that reason. When my body tells me, ‘You know what, Danny, you can’t keep up with this no more,’ then I’ll stop. But for now, I feel good and I’m just a fighter. This is what I do.”

“I’m 34, I love boxing. When you find out what your purpose is in the world — my purpose is to fight, entertain the fans, and take care of my family. That’s my purpose until I can’t do it no more, that’s when I’ll stop.”

On his favorite fight in his career

“I’ve got two favorite fights. One was (Lucas) Matthysse, because he was the bogeyman at 140. I’d already beat Amir Khan, I was the unified champion. They put him on the Ring Magazine cover and I was the Ring champion. I felt like I was disrespected. When I beat him, it was, ‘Yo, Danny’s the real deal, no more excuses.’ Then after that, people called me cherry-picker and whatnot. But you know, when you’re the best, people hate it. It’s just how it is.

“I would say at 147, believe it or not, I think the (Keith) Thurman fight was a great fight. It was two undefeated champions fighting for (unified titles). Even though I felt like I won the fight and they didn’t give me the fight, I still feel it was a classic fight, it was a great fight. That was my first defeat and it kinda showed me who I really was deep inside, outside the ring. I learned a lot in and out of the ring in that fight, and I feel like it made me a lot stronger.

“I’m not afraid to be great, I’m not afraid to fail. A lot of people are afraid to fail and I just go in there, I fight my hardest, and I want to win. I always want to win, I always feel like I’m the better fighter. But I’m not afraid to be great. And that fight, that’s kind of the description of that fight.”

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