Almost a year since suffering his first professional defeat, Danny Garcia returned to form in a big way.
In the main event of a Showtime Championship Boxing card from the Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas on February 17, Garcia knocked out former lightweight champion Brandon Rios in a WBC welterweight title eliminator with a straight right jab that is an early knockout of the year contender.
Garcia had some early struggles in trying to shake the ring rust from not fighting in the past 11 months as Rios landed some good punches on the former WBC welterweight champion. Garcia was the more consistent fighter throughout the bout and got better looks as the fight progressed. The bout culminated in the ninth round when Garcia landed a counter right jab to Rios' jaw, which rattled his head as he was sent to the canvas. Although Rios got back up before the end of the 10-count, the referee did not believe Rios had truly recovered from the knockdown.
While the knockout was certainly newsworthy in and of itself, the real headlined happened after the fight had ended. In the middle of a post-fight interview with Showtime's Jim Gray, Garcia was interrupted by a visiting Shawn Porter. Porter cut a promo on Garcia stating his intent to fight him next and the two spent a couple of minutes shouting at each other as Gray tried to create order in the ring.
Keith Thurman, the WBC and WBA welterweight champion, is scheduled to return to the ring in May, but has been adamant about fighting a relatively weak opponent since Fightful had asked Thurman about the possibility of facing Porter in his first fight since last year.
Both Porter and Garcia are technically mandatory challengers to Thurman's WBC title, but Porter is first in line to fight Thurman. It's entirely possible Porter and Garcia face each other next with either the mandatory challenger status and an interim title on the line, as the WBC had originally ordered last year before the fight fell through.
Porter had spent the better part of the last several months trying to goad Garcia to a fight, going as far as cutting another promo dressed as The Undertaker to call out Garcia.