Two-division world champion Danny Garcia and former world champion Brandon Rios faced off Thursday at the final press conference for their WBC Welterweight World Title Eliminator this Saturday, February 17live on SHOWTIME from Mandalay Bay Events Center, and presented by Premier Boxing Champions.
Garcia, who returns for his first bout since a unification showdown with Keith Thurman, promised to put on a show, while a confident Rios assured he was 100 percent prepared for what he deemed a “make or break” fight.
Saturday’s co-main event stole the show Thursday as undefeated WBC Super Middleweight World Champion David Benavidez promised to send top-rated contender Ronald Gavril into retirement in their anticipated rematch of a thrilling 2017 split-decision. Gavril, who floored Benavidez in the final minute of their Fight of the Year nominee, promised a different outcome in Saturday’s rematch.
The SHOWTIME CHAMPIONSHIP BOXINGtelecast begins at 10 p.m. ET/7 p.m. PT with welterweight contenders Yordenis Ugas and Ray Robinson facing offin an IBF 147-pound title eliminator.
Tickets for the live event, which is promoted by Mayweather Promotions and TGB Promotions, are on sale now and are available at AXS.com.
Here is what the fighters had to say from Rhythm & Riffs Lounge in Las Vegas:
“I took a little under a year off just to enjoy my life. I’ve worked hard my whole life; I’ve been boxing for 20 years. I just wanted to be a regular person and let my mind rest, spend time with my daughter and enjoy some of my money.
“More than anything, I just felt like I needed the rest. It wasn’t about the hunger because I’ve always had passion for the sport. I love boxing. I love the competition.
“I’m back now and I’ve been in camp for three months. I’m training hard. I feel great and I feel confident.
“It was a close fight against Thurman. I walked out of there with no injuries. Thurman was the one with the elbow injury, so he took more punishment than me. I could easily be unified champion of the world right now. At the end of the day, I’m a champion. That’s my mindset. What doesn’t break me, makes me stronger.
“It feels great to be from Philly right now. The atmosphere is crazy. When the Eagles won the Super Bowl, it felt like I won. They motivated me to go out there and do what I have to do.
“It’s the Danny Garcia show so I’m going to go in there and do what I want to do. I’m going to dictate the pace. If we want to bang, we can bang. If we want to box, we can box.
“I’ve faced fighters that came straight at me before. I’ve faced fighters that moved. I’m prepared for whatever. I’m a young veteran in the sport and what made me a true champion is adapting to anything and overcoming adversity. If I have to overcome adversity on Saturday night, then I’m going to do that because that’s what I was built for.
“I need to get a victory on Saturday night. I can’t overlook anybody. I’ve seen some crazy things happen in boxing. One punch can change everything, so I’m just focused on Saturday night.”
“I’m ready 100 percent. I’m ready to give the fans an exciting show and that’s what I’ve prepared for. That’s my style. I always come forward and I come to fight. We ain’t dancing, we’re going to be fighting.
“Robert Garcia has always been my brother. He’s a brother from another mother. It felt great to be back with Robert Garcia and I’m just ready for the fight now. Him and Donald Leary have me confident in myself, and that’s the most important thing.
“I’m going to take advantage of every opportunity. This can make or break me. I’m doing everything right in training and dieting. I usually say I can’t wait until weigh-ins but this time I can’t wait until Saturday.
“There’s no weight issue at all. I’m perfectly on-weight right now. I’m perfectly fine health-wise, there’s no injuries. I’m 100 percent ready.”
“I’m going to put Gavril into retirement after this fight. I’m going to knock him out. This is going to be the fight of the night so you guys don’t want to miss it. He’s not going to want to box again after I get done with him.
“He dropped me but I wasn’t hurt at any point of that fight. I got back up and smiled. I did not feel his power at all.
“It wasn’t a tough decision to give him a rematch because it was a great fight. I just want to give the fans the fights they want to see. They said the first one was a war, let’s make this one a war too.
“I’m not offended by Gavril’s talk because he’s a good fighter. This is just more hype for the fight and more motivation for me to go in there and make it a war.
“This time, there’s going to be a little bit more boxing. I really want to put this guy away so in order to do that, I need to step up every part of my game.”
“In the first fight, I proved to everybody that I have the skill and the power to be the best in this division. I thought that I won the fight, especially with the knockdown. So now, I had more than eight weeks to prepare for this fight when I only had four weeks for the first fight. I’m better now.
“I was not surprised Benavidez gave me the rematch because it was such a good fight. I think Benavidez talks to much. He said before the first fight that he was coming to stop me in four rounds or five rounds. He cannot stop me. And now, he said the same thing before this fight. He can’t do that. Why do you think he got a new fitness coach?”
“Moving up from 140 to 147 in 2016 has been great for me. Putting on the extra weight only makes me stronger.
“I’m ready to fight Robinson. I feel 100 percent and after I fight him on Saturday, I’m looking forward to fighting (Errol) Spence if I’m successful.
“I’m going to jump on the fact that I have length and reach on him. I have the height advantage. I can find a way to come in and attack the body first.
“This is definitely the biggest fight of my career. It’s an eliminator so I’m going for the win on Saturday night.”
“At one point, I used to put a lot of pressure on myself because of my name. I put so much pressure on myself that I even think I lost a couple fights. I look up to Sugar Ray Robinson, but I’m here to put my own footprints in the sand.
“I have learned from every fight and gotten better every fight as a pro and as a person. I have a great team now and they have only added to my craft.
“I feel confident. I did all of the hard work in the gym with my team. This is the easy part. I can box with a blindfold on. That’s the one thing I know how to do – fight. On Saturday, all of my hard work is going to pay off.”