Ryan Garcia: ‘2018 is gonna be an amazing year for me’
It is one of the more anticipated awards bestowed, come end of the year, because the entity giving the award is the high and mighty “Worldwide Leader” in sports coverage, ESPN.
ESPN’s “Prospect of the Year” has been decided and shared, since 2000, when Dan Rafael came aboard the ship. Joel Diaz got the praise in 2000 and, since then, if we scan the list, there have been some hits, some misses and some surprises, looking back.
David Price, POTY, in 2012? But of course, looking ahead of the curve is no easy task. You can only predict so far into the future…and sometimes buzz can cloud our vision and make us look past deficiencies.
This year’s recipient, when I asked if he was at all nervous or worried about getting this honor, made clear that he’s looking to live up to the designation, and be one of those fighters who play out as a solid choice. In other words, he is thinking along the lines of being a Canelo Alvarez rather than a Joel Julio.
Junior lightweight Ryan Garcia (13-0, 12 knockouts) is just 19 years old but shows no hint of being reticent, of betraying any lack of seasoning or confidence that can emerge when someone hasn’t fully proven his worth. The California kid, who trains with his pop Henry Garcia in the family garage/gym, told the listeners of Everlast’s TALKBOX podcast that he wants to live up to Rafael’s choice.
“I’m my own person and I know what I can do and I know what kind of fighter I am,” Garcia said. “That’s them; they failed and they didn’t live up to what they were supposed to do. And you know what? They might still be able to because Erickson Lubin is young. He just got caught; he got caught by a lion. That dude is a beast, (WBC junior middleweight titlist Jermell) Charlo. He’ll recover and he’ll come back. I feel like he is a good fighter. David Price, I haven’t looked too much into him but I also see guys like Canelo on that list and (WBO junior lightweight beltholder Vasyl) Lomachenko. I feel like I was born to do this, so the way my path is gonna go is completely different. I can see where I’m going and I know I’m gonna get there and it’s big. So everything is gonna fall into place. Just see. Just see. This year is gonna be an amazing year for me. This is my year, 2018!”
“Kingry” is quick with a grin and a chuckle, and you can see why he has those 350,000 Instagram followers.
OK, he is also aesthetically pleasing, if you judge by the comments to his page, many of which come from young ladies seeking to be his one-and-only.
So, has he encountered a staking problem? “I get stopped everywhere I go now,” he informed us. “I probably have over like a thousand messages a day on Instagram.” But no, no stalking woes as yet…maybe if he gave out his address, then there’d probably difficulties.
Garcia was game, in that he fielded even annoying questions with grace. He told us about the lone fight, in which he didn’t stop his foe, as a pro. And no, he doesn’t lack confidence. He said his greatest attribute, he said, is a “mixture of everything.” But asked to name one, he said his timing is his best asset.
I poked and prodded, seeing if he’s built to last. “I don’t drink or smoke,” he told us, though he acknowledged temptation is everywhere. He thinks most fighters do drink and/or smoke and that gives him a hand up. He also noted he would go to 135 pounds by the end of the year, if you are curious as to where he’s going, and whom, maybe, could be meeting him there.
His next glove-up will come at the end of February or early March, on ESPN, possibly main-eventing. The kid said he’s psyched to fight so often because he needs to get seasoning. In the gym, he says, it isn’t the same.
Garcia took up boxing at age 7 and the whole family is in it to win it; Sean, his little bro, is 1-0 (with 1 KO) as a pro and they travel to spar, “It’s a beautiful thing.”
My three cents: Looks matter in this world, so don’t discount Ryan because he’s handsome. In fact, that will only help his star rise higher, if his fighting continues to develop. Oscar De La Hoya, his promoter, can clue you in on what percentage of his fan base was female and people who enjoyed his appearance.
Follow Michael Woods on Twitter @Woodsy1069
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