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Debate Ramps Up On What’s Next For Ryan Garcia

Is There a Boxer Known to Be a Mental Health Advocate?
Tom Hogan- Golden Boy

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Debate Ramps Up On What’s Next For Ryan Garcia

Ryan Garcia didn’t mince words in the build up to his fight with Javier Fortuna, telling all who would listen that he was coming to do damage and knock him out.

He proved to be a man of his word on Saturday night and then continued his relentless pursuit of a fight with Gervonta “Tank” Davis.

In a one-sided thrashing, Garcia turned in perhaps the best performance of his career as he knocked Fortuna down three times in a sixth-round knockout victory in their junior welterweight fight before 11,288 in the main event of the Golden Boy Promotions card on DAZN at Crypto Arena in Los Angeles.

“I know that I performed well for myself and I know that I was crisp, I was sharp,” Garcia said. “I didn’t do anything crazy. I know how good of a fighter I am. I just had to put it all together and you seen that come together today. The fight speaks for itself. I don’t need to say anything. You’ve seen how I fought.”

The fight was supposed to be at lightweight, but when Fortuna said he would be unable to make 135 pounds, the bout was quietly upped to 140 pounds in recent weeks and it was Garcia who looked strong and in tremendous shape at the weight while Fortuna, well, didn’t — and he paid the price.

Garcia liked fighting at 140 pounds — so much so that he said he is done at lightweight.

“I felt way better,” Garcia said of the new weight division. “I’m not going back down to 135 for nothing, but I will fight Tank next if Tank wants that at 140. I’m gonna record all the negotiations so (nobody can say) I’m ducking. If he wants it, let’s get it.”

From the outset, Garcia took it to the southpaw Fortuna, lashing him with straight rights hands. He shook him with a right in the second round and in the fourth nailed him with a left to the body for the first knockdown.

“I caught him. He thought the hook was going up top and I caught him to the body,” Garcia said.

Fortuna got up but had spit out his mouthpiece, buying him a few extra seconds of recovery time when referee Jerry Cantu called timeout for it to be replaced. The veteran move did not help.

In the fifth round, Garcia landed a clean left hook on the chin and Fortuna went down for the second time. It seemed like it would only be a matter of time until Garcia got the knockout, which he did in the following round.

Garcia (23-0, 19 KOs), 23, of Victorville, California, who dealt with the death of his grandmother during training camp, closed the show impressively in the sixth round when he landed a solid left hook near the temple and Fortuna went down to one knee. He put his head down and spit out his mouthpiece in a clear sign of resignation as Cantu counted him out at 27 seconds.

“I hit hard,” Garcia said. “It doesn’t take a lot to hurt somebody.”

There was a sense of closure on a fight that had originally been scheduled for last July, but soon after it was agreed to in April 2021, Garcia pulled out, citing the need to take time away from boxing to deal with mental health issues.

A November return against former junior lightweight titlist and Golden Boy stablemate Joseph Diaz Jr. was planned but Garcia withdrew from that fight also, this time due to a right hand injury that required surgery and kept him out until he returned to easily outpoint Emmanuel Tagoe in April.

When it came time to plan Garcia’s next fight, the possibility of a lightweight title eliminator with Isaac “Pitbull” Cruz fell through, so Golden Boy went back to former secondary junior lightweight titlist Fortuna (37-4-1, 26 KOs), 33, of the Dominican Republic, who had rebounded with a win earlier this year following a decision loss last July to Diaz, who had replaced Garcia.

With his mental health issues apparently under control and his right hand healthy, Garcia appears to be clicking on all cylinders. He dropped Tagoe and won in a near shutout and then he ran roughshod over Fortuna — both of those bouts coming in his first two fights with trainer Joe Goossen.

“It felt like a statement and a comeback to the timeline where I was at,” Garcia said of finally facing Fortuna a year after they were initially scheduled to fight. “They told me I was some guy who didn’t care about boxing and I’m some guy that makes up mental health (issues. Dealing with) mental health is a time to reflect on yourself and get better for the future. That’s not weakness, that’s strength. That’s courage.

“I took all the hate and negativity that I take every day and I put it out in the ring as a positive. I got love for Javier Fortuna. I got love for everybody. I’m not even mad at the people who say bad things about me. I just want to pray for them. That’s it.”

According to CompuBox statistics, Garcia landed 79 of 236 punches (34 percent) and Fortuna landed a paltry 24 of 115 (21 percent). He never landed more than six punches in any round.

With the win secured, Garcia continued to do what he did even during the lead up to the fight with Fortuna — call out secondary lightweight titlist Davis (27-0, 25 KOs), one of boxing’s biggest stars, for what would be a major fight.

Davis has fought once before at junior welterweight, knocking out Mario Barrios in the 11th round to take his secondary belt in 13 months ago before returning to lightweight. A Davis-Garcia fight, especially later this year, is a long shot it would seem.

Garcia is with Golden Boy and fights on DAZN and Davis is with Mayweather Promotions and Premier Boxing Champions and fights on Showtime PPV.

A fight between them would require cooperation between promoters who have been at odds for years and for their broadcasters to do a joint pay-per-view, a rare occurrence. Further, Davis has not show any desire to face Garcia.

But Garcia holds out hope. He wants the fight for a reason.

“Because that’s going to give me the respect I deserve and I’m never afraid,” Garcia said. “I have a spirit of competition in me and you’re gonna see that when I fight Tank and whup his ass.”

As for the mountain of hurdles that would have to be overcome to make the match, Garcia was philosophical.

“Where there’s a will,” he said, “there’s a way.”

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Since 2000, award-winning reporter Dan Rafael has covered boxing full time and been ringside for thousands of fights, first for five years at USA Today and then for 15 years at ESPN, where he wrote and appeared on various television, radio and streaming programs. In 2013, Dan was honored by the Boxing Writers Association of America with the Nat Fleischer award for career excellence in boxing journalism. Dan brings his great insight to the Big Fight Weekend site, podcast and more!

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