Brandon Rios was proving everyone wrong by outworking Danny Garcia for eight rounds as Garcia’s stock was quickly falling against a 20-1 underdog.
But it only takes one punch in boxing to make everything right.
Garcia regained the top welterweights’ attention after landing a devastating straight right hand to knock out Rios in the ninth round of Saturday’s main event at the Mandalay Bay Events Center.
Rios had Garcia backtracking throughout the match by fighting on the inside to take away Garcia’s trademark left hook.
That’s when Garcia’s right hand saved the day. Rios’ neck snapped back and his knees buckled. Somehow, he quickly got back up, but referee Kenny Bayless stopped the bout at the 2:25 mark.
Former welterweight champion Shawn Porter tried to take Garcia’s moment in the spotlight by rushing into the ring for the postfight interview. But Garcia didn’t let Porter take his shine.
“You’re not from Vegas, you’re from Ohio,” Garcia shouted at Porter, who was born in Ohio but moved to Las Vegas. “I’ll be at your gym Monday. Get out of here. This is the Danny Garcia show.”
The knockout set up Garcia for a potential rematch against Keith Thurman, who took Garcia’s WBC belt in March. Garcia and Porter are mandatory challengers for Thurman.
“I would love the rematch with Keith Thurman,” Garcia said. “It’s on him. Whenever he’s ready, we’ll fight.”
Rios put up a valiant effort in his second fight since announcing his retirement in 2015.
“I’m good. I’m mad,” Rios said. “I don’t like going out like that. I’m a warrior. I got back up, and I wanted to continue. I guess the corner stopped it, but I’m mad.”
Garcia’s best moments have come in Las Vegas when he defeated Amir Khan and Lucas Matthysse. He can now add the Rios’ knockout to his Sin City highlights.
Benavidez vs. Gavril
David Benavidez’s dominant work for 11 rounds against Ronald Gavril was unrecognized after the two boxers met in September.
Gavril recorded a 12th-round knock down against Benavidez, and the Romanian from Las Vegas didn’t let him forget about it leading up to the rematch.
Benavidez rolled his eyes every time the knockdown was brought up during fight week. The 21-year-old boxing phenom had to make a statement for the second bout.
Statement delivered, as Benavidez dominated Gavril via unanimous decision (120-108, 119-109, 120-108) in the co-main event to successfully defend his WBC super middleweight belt. Benavidez lost one round on the three scorecards.
Benavidez’s work won’t be forgotten this time. He consistently landed combinations and now will be regarded by many as the top fighter in the 168-pound division.
It’s back to the drawing board for Gavril. But he will receive plenty of respect for lasting 24 rounds versus a power puncher.
“I didn’t knock him out, but he’s a tough son of a gun,” Benavidez said. “I knew he was going to come aggressive. He’s a one-trick opponent. I knew I could jab and box him all day.”