Good, bad, worse: Ryan Garcia right about diluted titles, rogue judge can’t spoil Danny Garcia’s night

A critical look at the past week in boxing


Photo by Tom Dulat / Getty Images

Don’t listen to representatives of the sanctioning bodies defending their championship policies after they were criticized by Ryan Garcia.

The junior welterweight contender said that your opponent is more important than increasingly meaningless title belts, which couldn’t be more true. And he should be applauded for stating the obvious because too few do.

This isn’t complicated. There are 68 champions if you accept the IBF, WBA, WBC and WBO as the major organizations and allow them one champion in each of the 17 divisions, 69 if you count the WBC’s new bridgerweight weight class. That number gets much bigger if you count secondary titles, which many are willing to do.

Eighty world champions? Ninety? The sanctioning bodies, who charge hefty fees for their precious belts, are pulling a fast one on you.

“It’s just, to me, the belts are diluted,” Garcia said in a DAZN interview.

Ya think?

I understand that every boxer dreams of winning shiny championship belts from the time they take up the sport. That’s one reason the titles remain central to the sport. And, of course, the “championships” are used to sell fights, which makes sense.

Still, when all is said and done, they don’t mean much. When we look back on the careers of legendary figures like Muhammad Ali and Sugar Ray Leonard we think of the fighters they defeated more than the belts they collected. And the titles meant more in their day than they do now.

Garcia provided a good example that illustrates my point.

“Me winning championships is gonna just give people more ammo to be like, ‘Oh, Ryan’s this,’” he said. “I don’t care about that. I need to know, in my heart, I beat the guy that I feel is the champion. If I beat Tank Davis, or when I beat Tank Davis, I will feel like a champion, regardless if he has a real belt or not.

“I will feel like a champion because the name carries weight, his name carries weight.”

I hope everyone is listening.



Rances Barthelemy wasn’t pleased when his fight was stopped. Adam Hunger / Getty Images

A controversial stoppage is never good. It diminishes one fighter’s victory and raises the notion that the opposing man or woman might’ve been cheated.

That was the unfortunate scenario at the end of the 140-pound fight between unbeaten Gary Antuanne Russell and veteran Rances Barthelemy on the Garcia-Benavidez card.

The two were engaged in a spirited, back-and-forth fight for five-plus rounds when Russell landed a right hand the side of the Cuban’s head, putting him on the canvas and clearly hurting him.

Barthelemy was able to get to his feet and seemed to be ready to continue yet referee Shada Murdaugh decided Barthelemy couldn’t go on and stopped the fight 50 seconds into Round 6.

Barthelemy (29-2-1, 15 KOs) and his team members passionately protested Murdaugh’s ruling but his decision was final. Russell had his 16h knockout in as many fights.

“This is the most bitter loss of my career,” Barthelemy said. “I’m destroyed. Don’t get me wrong, this wasn’t Russell’s fault at all. I’m a veteran, and I had been through something like that plenty of times in my career. The referee treated me like a rookie instead of the two-time world champion I am.”

I thought the fight was stopped too early in real time. Barthelemy definitely was buzzed but he seemed to be alert enough to continue after he got up and followed Murdaugh’s order to walk toward him.

I don’t believe the stakes should play a role in such a decision but it was a huge fight for Barthelemy, who, at 36, was hoping to make another run at a world title. A victory would’ve been a big step in that direction for him.

That makes what was arguably a premature stoppage all the more wince-worthy.

However, I don’t want to be too hard on Murdaugh. He stared into Barthelemy’s eyes after the fighter walked toward him and he obviously didn’t like what he saw. My gut tells me to give him the benefit of the doubt.

It’s a shame the fight ended that way. It was a good, competitive battle.



Danny Garcia couldn’t have been much more dominating in his majority-decision victory over Jose Benavidez Jr. on Saturday at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York.

The former two-division titleholder, making his debut at 154 pounds, jabbed beautifully, landed hard, eye-catching combinations and pounded Benavidez’s body from beginning to end. And he was much busier than his foe. According to CompuBox, he outlanded Benavidez in all 12 rounds.

That’s why two judges had Garcia winning, 117-111 (nine rounds to three) and 116-112 (eight to four). I had it 118-110 (10 rounds to two).

The third judge? Waleska Roldan of New York? She somehow had it 114-114. That doesn’t rise to the level of outrageousness of C.J. Ross’ 114-114 score in the Floyd Mayweather-Canelo Alvarez fight in 2013 but it’s not far off.

Roldan actually had Benavidez leading after 11 rounds, meaning Garcia had to win the 12th round to earn a draw on her card.

Garcia said he was taken aback when Jimmy Lennon Jr. announced Roldan’s score before the other two.

“At first I was like, ‘Yo, why are they taking so long with the scorecards?’” he said. “Any time they take long with the scorecards, you know something is wrong. … I’ve been doing this for a while. I was like, ‘Something ain’t right.’ I felt he won three, four [rounds] at the most. I gave him a couple of rounds I thought I let him win.

“But other than that I felt I dominated the fight. I felt like the 117-111 card was the best card. I thought, ‘Damn, ain’t this sort of my hometown, Brooklyn?’”

Ross retired as a judge as a result of the fall out following the Mayweather-Alvarez fight, which I scored 120-108 for Mayweather. I’m not going to suggest Roldan do the same thing but I know some people are thinking exactly that.



The reason for the cancelation of the Aug. 6 Jake PaulHasim Rahman Jr. fight seems clear cut to me: Rahman couldn’t get down to the contracted weight. The fighters agreed to weigh in at no more than 200 pounds the day before the fight and then rehydrate to no more than 215. Rahman’s team then informed Paul that the son of the former heavyweight champion can’t make 200 and wouldn’t fight unless the weigh-in limit was raised to 215. Paul reportedly offered to raise the limit to 205 but Rahman and Co. declined. This appears to be on Rahman. … Benavidez said after his fight with Garcia that he thought he did enough to win but not even he seemed convinced. The brother of super middleweight David Benavidez didn’t win that fight. He did more posturing than punching, which was obvious to two judges and almost everyone else. He didn’t embarrass himself; he gave a solid performance. He simply was outboxed and outworked by a better fighter. That said, I think he can beat some elite opponents if he fights regularly and let’s his hands go more than he did on Saturday. …

Adam Kownacki went from hot heavyweight contender to essentially finished in three fights, two knockout losses to Robert Helenius and a unanimous-decision setback against Ali Eren Demirezen on the Garcia-Benavidez card Saturday. Kownacki (20-3, 15 KOs) performed reasonably well but couldn’t keep pace with Demirezen, who managed to outwork an opponent known for his volume punching. Kownacki said he wants to go out on a victory, meaning he’ll probably face a second-tier opponent before stepping away. Meanwhile, Demirezen (17-1, 12 KOs) took a nice step in his career. The 2016 Olympian from Turkey has won six consecutive fights since he was outpointed by Efe Ajagba in 2019. The 32-year-old is a capable boxer who was in tremendous condition on Saturday. He threw 915 punches, according to CompuBox. That’s a big number for a heavyweight. I don’t know whether Demirezen is destined to win a world title but he clearly is a player in the division.


Hasim Rahman Jr. blames Jake Paul, team for canceled fight: 'Only thing that I can conclude is they're scared'

Jake Paul explains Hasim Rahman Jr. fight cancellation: 'The pressure starts to set in'

Danny Garcia full of confidence after convincing victory over Jose Benavidez Jr.

Danny Garcia looks sharp in victory over Jose Benavidez Jr. in debut at 154 pounds

Ali Eren Demirezen defeats Adam Kownacki by unanimous decision

Gary Antuanne Russell stops Rances Barthelemy in sixth round

Story originally appeared on Boxing Junkie