Boxing is a funny sport. At one point, you are on top of the world, with fans admiring every move. The next, your picture is all over the internet and you’re a viral meme.
Ryan Garcia felt the latter side of things following his loss to Gervonta Davis in April. Now seeking to put that experience behind him, “KingRy” will return to action against Oscar Duarte at the Toyota Center in Houston on December 2. The 12-round bout, plus undercard action, will be broadcast on DAZN worldwide.
This is considered a homecoming fight for Garcia, who moved from the lights and glamor of California to Texas. He also switched trainers, from Joe Goossen to Derrick James, two great boxing men with very different styles.
With a fresh mindset, Garcia is ready to begin a new chapter in his career.
“Definitely feel more focused, more committed to the sport — more dedicated. It feels like just the thing I needed,” Garcia told Chris Mannix about all the new elements in his life. “I think the year-and-half layoff and all the time that I would take outside the sport really didn’t help my focus in boxing. I kind of lost that supreme focus that you need. That dedication and commitment to the sport. This right here really showed me what it’s like to go 100 percent again and focus on boxing… In Dallas, it’s perfect. You keep your focus, and it’s all training.
“The environment I was in, if you’re in a toxic environment, it’s just not going to work out for you. It was just in my spirit to change things all the way. I just let God guide me, and He guided me to Dallas, Texas, and with a great trainer like Derrick, I could see my difference, my drives, my commitment. I should’ve done this a minute ago. It is what it is. Sometimes, you need to lose, and sometimes, you need to hit rock bottom to realize the changes you need to make. And I think that what’s going to make me great and show people who I am is how I bounce back. It’s not easy to lose, but great champions come back.”
A 15-time national amateur champion, Garcia was a big signing for Golden Boy when he joined Oscar De La Hoya’s company in 2016. Main eventing events in California and Texas, Garcia made himself known thanks to his quick hands and punching power.
Beating Luke Campbell for the interim WBC lightweight title in January 2021, Garcia was on a path to superstardom, but injuries and mental health issues sidetracked his momentum.
After overcoming adversity, Garcia returned to the ring following an extended layoff. He defeated Emmanuel Tagoe and Javier Fortuna, but a further 10 months of inactivity preceded the Davis bout. The California star elected to forgo a fight with Mercito Gesta and, perhaps unwisely, went straight into the Davis fight. Then, a rehydration clause, along with a separated rib, wasn’t ideal by way of preapration.
Garcia was dropped twice and lost via seventh-round knockout. Davis was named the new face of boxing, while Garcia went back to the drawing board. Disappointed with the result, Garcia initiated significant changes.
“It’s disappointing because I didn’t feel anything. I didn’t feel one moment of sadness. People say it’s because of the money, but it wasn’t because of the money. I stopped caring about just winning in general,” Garcia said. “My competitive edge was just not there. Like a month later, it was like, ‘Oh shit, like I did lose? That happened?’ It kind of hit me, and I was like, ‘I’m never gonna lose again… I don’t want to lose again. I’m going to erase the things I was doing.’ I wasn’t being a professional, but sometimes you got to lose to realize, s—, I got to make a change here. It’s not fun and games. This is a real sport. You could get hurt.”
While he loves his home city, Garcia believes that Los Angeles is something of a distraction. Now in Texas with James, who trains Anthony Joshua, Errol Spence Jr., and Jermell Charlo, the hotshot contender feels that has the same sharpness as he did back in 2020.
Garcia is fully prepared for Duarte, who is on an 11-fight win streak, with all those victories coming via knockout. Like Garcia, the 27-year-old has never fought for a world title before. However, his major weapon is his punching power, so Garcia must be careful.
At 25, Garcia has discussed retiring at an early age, but he’s hedging his bets on that. The fight with Davis did a reported 1.2 million PPV buys and a $22.8 million gate, the fifth-largest gate for boxing in Nevada’s history. Now, Garcia wants to win a world championship. He competes at super lightweight, where he is much more comfortable, and he’s targetting the best.
“That big fight [with Davis] was great, it did really well, but now I want to become a champion, establish myself as a champion at 140, and build from there. Hopefully, run that back [against Davis] because I know I’m capable of beating him in different circumstances,” Garcia said. “I just had a plan in my head since I was coming into the professional rankings. I want everybody to know my name at first. I want people to see my talent, see what I can do, build a big fight, and have spectacular events.
“Now? I’ve been boxing since I was seven years old. I feel like I deserve to give myself a chance to become a champion. I was the best in the amateurs, I won a lot of national titles, and I’m longing for a championship title now. I want people to be able to see me like, ‘OK, he’s not only a superstar, but he’s also a champion. He also can be the best. He’s not just a kid that knows how to market himself. He’s actually a person that took the sport serious and became a champion and did it all, really.’ I want to show people I can do it all. If you want me to go full-focus mode, you’re about to see something different.”