BROOKLYN – July 31, 2022 – Two-division world champion Danny “Swift Garcia dominated in his super welterweight debut Saturday night, cruising to a majority decision victory over exciting contender Jose Benavidez Jr. in the SHOWTIME main event from Barclays Center in Brooklyn headlining a Premier Boxing Champions event. He saved perhaps his most expressive moment post-fight when he broke down in the ring discussing his struggles with mental health with SHOWTIME reporter Jim Gray, showing the authenticity that has made him such a fan-favorite in Brooklyn.
Philadelphia’s Garcia (37-3, 21 KOs) has become a staple at Barclays Center ever since headlining the arena’s first boxing event in 2012, and his return on Saturday night against Benavidez (27-2-1, 18 KOs), saw him pick up his seventh victory in Brooklyn. Watch the seventh-round highlight here:
After runs as a world champion at 147 and 140 pounds, Garcia debuted at 154 pounds after a nearly 20-month layoff. Known as a counterpunching expert, Garcia went on the attack early and often, targeting Benavidez’s body on his way to landing a career-high of 153 body shots according to CompuBox. Garcia’s superior hand and foot speed left Benavidez trailing him for much of the night, looking to land right hands over Garcia’s vaunted left hook.
Benavidez best moment came in round nine when he connected on one of those right hands and popped Garcia’s head back, but he was unable to capitalize on the attack enough to change the trajectory of the fight.
Overall Garcia ran up a 233 to 117 edge in punches landed and owned a 31% connect rate compared to Benavidez’s 20%. After 12 rounds, Garcia had done enough to earn the decision by scores of 117-11, 116-112, and a surprising 114-114. After the fight, Garcia credited his father and trainer Angel Garcia with staying by his side throughout his battle with anxiety and depression.
In the co-main event, Turkish Olympian Ali Eren Demirezen (17-1, 12 KOs) scored a career-best victory via a unanimous decision (97-93 twice, 96-94) over Polish star and Brooklyn fan-favorite Adam Kownacki (20-3, 15 KOs) after 10 rounds of heavyweight action.
In his 11th fight at Barclays Center, Kownacki rode the urging of his hometown fans to a fast start as he targeted Demirezen’s body frequently in round one. As the bout progressed, Demirezen flipped the script and ended up being the more aggressive fighter, throwing 915 punches to Kownacki’s 851, while landing 239 power punches compared to Kownacki’s 186.
In round 10, Kownacki, with blood dripping from his left eye, again was able to bring his legion of fans to their feet as he put together a courageous effort in rocking Demirezen with a right hand, forcing Demirezen to temporarily fight on his back foot. However, Demirezen recovered to win the round, and sweep the last two rounds on all three cards to clinch the victory.
In the telecast opener, unbeaten rising star Gary Antuanne Russell (16-0, 16 KOs) delivered a sixth-round TKO (:50) over former two-division Rances Barthelemy (29-2-1, 15 KOs) in their super lightweight clash to keep his perfect knockout streak intact. Russell landed a clean leaping right hook that dropped Barthelemy early in the round, and while Barthelemy was able to get to his feet, referee Shada Murdaugh waived off the action, drawing boisterous complaints from Barthelemy, his corner and the crowd in attendance. Watch video highlight here:
The bout featured intriguing action from two skilled southpaws, as Russell and Barthelemy went toe-to-toe in a compelling round one that saw both men throw over 60 punches and each eat big shots. As the action progressed, Barthelemy was able to find success countering the hard-charging Russell, who dictated much of the fight’s pace. The fighters threw within five total punches of each other per round across the bout, including combining to throw 361 power punches out of 515 total thrown. Barthelemy expressed his displeasure with the referee’s decision post-fight and staked his claim to a rematch against Russell. At the time of the stoppage, the score totals were 49-46 twice and 48-47 in favor of Russell.
Fighting for the first time since the passing of his father and lifelong trainer Gary Sr., Russell was led in his corner by his brother and former WBC Featherweight World Champion Gary Russell Jr., as he looks to continue his ascent in the 140-pound division.
In live streaming action prior to the telecast, SHOWTIME BOXING COUNTDOWN saw top middleweight contender Sergiy Derevyanchenko (14-4, 10 KOs) cruise to a unanimous decision over Joshua Conley (17-4-1, 11 KOs) by scores of 99-91 twice and 98-92 after 10 rounds.
Roberto Villa is the CEO, Founder, Executive Writer, Senior Editor of FightBook MMA. Has a passion for Combat Sports and also a podcast host for Sitting Ringside. He’s also a former MMA fighter and Kickboxer.