LAS VEGAS: Former world super lightweight and welterweight world boxing champion Danny Garcia returns from the first loss of his career in February against former world champion Brandon Rios, promoters announced Thursday.
The fight will headline a February 17 card at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas that also includes unbeaten American David Benavidez making his first World Boxing Council super middleweight title defence in a rematch with Romanian Ronald Gavril.
Garcia, 33-1 with 19 knockouts, suffered the first defeat of his career last March, dropping a split decision to fellow American Keith Thurman at Brooklyn in a unification showdown for the World Boxing Council and World Boxing Association welterweight crowns.
“I’m excited just to get back in the ring,” Garcia said. “I needed the time off to recuperate and let my body heal.
“I’m ready to kick off the year in style and take over the welterweight division.”
That would mean putting himself in position for a rematch against double champion Thurman, unbeaten International Boxing Federation king Errol Spence of the United States and undefeated Australian Jeff Horn, the World Boxing Organization champion.
Garcia, 29, spent two years as a super lightweight champion after taking his first crown in 2012 by unanimous decision from Mexico’s Erik Morales.
Rios, 31, is 34-3 with one draw and 25 knockouts. The former WBA lightweight champion dropped three of his past six starts, including a 2013 Macao matchup against Filipino star Manny Pacquiao, but won his most recent bout by knocking out Mexico’s Aaron Herrera last June after a 19-month layoff.
“I’m excited to prove my critics wrong again,” Rios said. “Danny is a great fighter, but I will beat him just like I have beaten others in the past.”
Benavidez, 19-0 with 17 knockouts, won the vacant crown last September with a split decision over Gavril, 18-2 with 14 knockouts, at Las Vegas.