The last time the world saw Ryan Garcia he was getting stopped by Gervonta 'Tank' Davis in what was the most commercially successful boxing match in America in 2023. But the truth of the matter is that while the event did boffo numbers at the box-office (and more importantly on pay-per-view), the fight itself was really one-sided.
While this bout certainly enhanced his bank account, it didn't do much for his reputation as a fighter. Garcia was dropped by Davis twice on his way to getting stopped in seven rounds. This isn't to say that he's not a legitimate boxer (to compare him to any YouTuber dabbling in this racket is patently unfair), but on that April night in Las Vegas, it was shown that he was far from elite.
Now he returns this Saturday night at the Toyota Center in Houston, Texas, versus Oscar Duarte, in what is now essentially a short road trip for him given that the life-long native of Southern California has moved to Dallas.
"I'm feeling great, it's been a great change for me," Garcia told Chris Mannix of DAZN, during a sit down interview that was released last week. "I definitely feel more focused, committed to the sport. It feels like just the thing I needed."
He further explained to Mannix,"I think the year-and-a-half layoff and just all the time that I would take outside the sport really didn't help my focus in boxing. I kinda lost that supreme focus you need in boxing, that dedication and that commitment to the sport. This right here showed me what it's like to go 100-percent, again, and the focus is for boxing.
"So this is exactly what I needed. Dallas is perfect. Keep your focus and you're always training."
Golden Boy Promotions
Garcia is seemingly always in a state of change. It wasn't that long ago that he was trained by two highly regarded ones in Eddy Reynoso, and then Joe Goossen (who was in his corner as he faced Davis) and now Derrick James.
That's three trainers in just a few years, and not that many fights. Garcia has had just four outings since the beginning of 2021. Some would say that he is the common denominator, here. When it comes to trainers and high-profile breakups, he is the Halle Berry of boxing.
But Garcia says it's more than just who is preparing him for the fights.
"Just the environment I was in," he stated. "You're in a toxic environment, it's just not going to work for you. So it was just in my spirit to change things all the way, and I just let God guide me. He guided me to Dallas, Texas, and a great trainer like Derrick. I could see my difference in my focus and commitment."
Garcia described what he left as a ''toxic'' to Mannix, when asked to expound on that, he said, "It was toxic because L.A. people want to be around famous people. There's a lot of distractions. Even the gym I was at, it's kinda of a celebrity gym in a way. And things weren't locked in like a training camp."
He added later, "My dedication just wasn't there. And when you take those long layoffs, you realize it."
Golden Boy Promotions
It's ironic that Garcia brings up his own notoriety, since he has carefully cultivated it since the early days of his career. Nobody has utilized social media as expertly as he has. With his matinee idol looks and flashy style, he was able to skip ahead of the line, but unfortunately, also skip steps in his development as a fighter. As for fame, it can be very fickle. One day you are yearning for it. The next you lament what comes with it.
In the immediate aftermath of the Davis loss, Garcia said he does have regrets in how he approached the fight, and the contracted weight which included rehydration clauses.
''My eagerness to fight him so bad messed me up because I didn't take the tune-up with Mercito (Gesta). I didn't want to ruin the chance to fight him -- and all the stipulations," said Garcia. It's odd that Garcia's team made this decision knowing that Davis was facing Hector Luis Garcia in early January. The proposed tune-up against Gesta would take place later that same month. Garcia looked sharp in getting rid of Javier Fortuna in six rounds in July of 2022.
Then you had the catch-weight of 136 pounds, after Garcia's last couple of fights had taken place at junior welterweight. In addition to that, neither boxer could gain more than 10 pounds before an early morning weigh-in on fight day.
"Me having to cut that weight was really hard for me, and me not being able to gain the weight, I was already pissed off," admitted Garcia, who went against the advice of Oscar De La Hoya and Golden Boy Promotions in agreeing to these clauses. "I was mad because nobody seemed to actually like take that serious, like part of my team. Nah, this is hurting me to make this weight. They were just watching me, 'you got it, you got it' -- and I didn't have it."
(Psst, Ryan it may have been an inside job there.)
In the days and weeks after his first career loss, he jousted with De La Hoya on Twitter over how that fight was negotiated. While Garcia says he has found peace and tranquility in his life, you get the sense that his relationship with his promoter will always have a bit of turbulence.
"So when I lost, it was just like, 'I don't give a shit'. I already came with a separated rib and all this stuff," he continued. "I was just like, 'I don't care'. But looking at it, why don't I care? That's crazy, I should care."
But now Garcia says he has fully turned the page. Ready to move onto the next chapters of his career. He swears that he now has, ''a focus I haven't felt for awhile. I'm like, 'OK, this feels nice.' I finally know what I'm doing in the ring, again."
And get this, now he actually wants to win one of those title belts, that he said in the past weren't important to him.
"I've been boxing since I was seven years old. I feel I deserve to give myself a chance to become a champion."
OFF THE CUFF
Here is the link to the full interview with Garcia and Mannix:
I found it interesting Garcia's comments about Ten Goose Boxing being a ''celebrity gym'', having gone there for years, outside of when Ricky Funez brings in some well-known individuals (usually in private), its always been a blue-collar, no-frills gym, especially in comparison to many of the other gyms in Southern California....Mike Coppinger of ESPN is reporting that Devin Haney has made the decision to vacate his remaining titles at 135....This card from Houston will be broadcast live on DAZN...Also on this bill is a fight between Shane Mosley Jr and Joshua Conley....While prospects Floyd Schofield and Darius Fulghum are also featured....Earlier that afternoon on DAZN from Belfast, Ireland, Michael Conlan takes on Jordan Gill....I can be reached at email@example.com....