The physical part of boxing is relatively easy, per se. As long as you train correctly and be in shape, you're good to go in that aspect.
However, being ready between the ears is an entirely different story.
Danny Garcia was getting ready to compete in the first major boxing event since the COVID-19 pandemic surged into the United States when he took on unified welterweight champion Errol Spence Jr. in December 2020 at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas. But, by watching Garcia walk to the ring and then competing, you could see something was off. Yes, Garcia made it through 12 rounds in a loss by a wide unanimous decision. But it wasn't a Danny Garcia fight that we had grown accustomed to seeing against the likes of Amir Khan, Keith Thurman and Shawn Porter. He didn't throw as many power shots, looked too methodical, and didn't attempt many counter shots.
Garcia did a post-fight interview, rode off into the sunset, and we didn't hear from him for over a year. Until now. The former two-division champion returns from a 19-month layoff and in a new weight class when he meets Jose Benavidez Jr. on Saturday from the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y. Garcia admits he wasn't all there heading into another big fight.
"I have to admit, I was a little bit mentally tired," Garcia told DAZN. "It was a crazy year for me. The pandemic, I fought before the pandemic, trained through the pandemic, and it was just a lot going on, you know, it was just a lot going on. So I felt like I was a little bit mentally tired, and I think that showed in the fight. Physically I was there. I was able to go to 12 rounds, and we scrapped it out and all that stuff. But I felt like I wasn't able to do the things that I usually do just because I was a little bit mentally tired. That's when I knew I needed to take a break. I've been boxing for a long time.
"This is all mental, and you got to listen to your body. I felt like I listened to my body. I gave myself some time to miss boxing, feel mentally sharp, feel good. When you wake up in the morning, you got to feel good. Before you run, you got to feel good. When you go to the gym, you don't want to feel like, ‘Ah, got another day’, just make yourself do it. I feel good. When I'm going to the gym, I'm ready to learn. I'm ready to push myself. I'm ready to run. I'm ready to challenge myself. And that's how you gotta feel, and that's how I feel now."
Fans will read the previous quote and say, 'Why did you fight if you weren't fully prepared?' Garcia understands the question, but he lives with no regrets and gives Spence credit for the way he fought on that evening.
"I don't regret it," Garcia admits. "You know why? Because it was a good fight. He's a great champion. I'm a great champion. And sometimes you got to test yourself. You're not always gonna feel good. You're not always gonna be at your best. Sometimes you have a great camp, wake up, and don't feel good the day of the fight. Some days you got a terrible camp and feel great. Everything happens for a reason. It is what it is. You got to learn and build from it."
Refreshed in every way, Garcia is ready to go in his 154-pound debut. Garcia views this new journey as fun and is ready for the new challenge that awaits him. Accomplishing everything he did at welterweight and facing most of the top fighters and capturing a world title, Garcia was ready to no longer put his body through the stress of trying to make weight so now he could feel at his best at junior middleweight.
"I was a champion at 140, 147," Garcia said. "I feel like at this point in my career, I don't want to strain my body losing weight. I think that's actually going to hurt me than making me better. I feel like we got to be happier. We got to be more comfortable so we can work on the things we want to work on. I want to feel good. I don't want to put that strain on my body because we still gotta lose weight, don't get me wrong. But we don't have to lose that extra weight when you look like a skeleton during the weigh-in. So now we're gonna look like we got some muscle but also feel good."