Danny Garcia gave a vintage performance in his debut at 154 pounds.
The former two-division titleholder outclassed Jose Benavidez Jr. to win a majority decision on Saturday night at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York.
Two judges scored it for Garcia, 117-111 and 116-112. The third, Waleska Roldan, somehow scored a one-sided fight 114-114.
Boxing Junkie had Garcia winning 118-110, 10 rounds to two.
Garcia (37-3, 21 KOs) hadn’t fought since he was outpointed by welterweight champ Errol Spence Jr. 19 months but no rust was apparent on Saturday.
The master counterpuncher gave Benavidez (27-2-1, 18 KOs) a boxing lesson from the opening bell, jabbing beautifully, pounding Benavidez’s body and landing quick, accurate combinations.
Benavidez scored periodically with flurries but had difficulty hitting Garcia cleanly and simply wasn’t as active as his more-accomplished foe.
Thus, the fight shouldn’t have been difficult to score. Yet it was for Roldan, who had Benavidez leading after 11 rounds. That means Garcia earned a draw on her card by winning the final round.
The important thing is that right man had his hand raised, which instantly makes Garcia a major player in his new division.
He shed tears during a post-fight interview, as he reflected on emotional issues — including depression — he battled during his time off. The fact he was able to get back to his first love was important for him.
“In order for me to be Danny Garcia again I have to be back in the ring,” he said. “I have to do what I love and be a fighter. People ask me every day, ‘You made good money in boxing. Why do you still fight?’ Same way that Warren Buffet is 90 years old and still making money in stocks. I love to fight.
“So this is what I love to do. And hopefully become a meme with my crying face like Michael Jordan.”
He was asked afterward who he would like to fight. He mentioned welterweight Keith Thurman, who handed him his first loss five years ago. And the threw out Erislandy Lara’s name, suggesting he could fight the middleweight for a title at a catch weight in the next division.
An impressive victory on a big stage — Roldan’s horrible card aside — gives elite fighters such options.
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Story originally appeared on Boxing Junkie