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Building Ryan Garcia

Lightweight contender Ryan Garcia. Photo credit: Getty Images
14
Dec

They – OK, we – love to build ‘em up and we love to tear ‘em down.

“They build you up and you’re going to have some obstacles, bumps in the road, but you have to stay focused. You have to have faith in yourself,” said Henry Garcia, father to “King” Ryan Garcia, the 20-year-old phenom, who, in the last year, has seen his rep explode, his profile increase a hundredfold…only to then taste a bit of a blowback.

Garcia, also known as “Flash,” was at the top of the world to start the year. Enjoying accolades as The Next Big Thing, secure in his knowledge that his skill set was the sort that would, before too long, make his name known even outside the confines of the hardcore boxing fan set.

 

The skills…and the looks…and the personality…Yep, the ladies were loving him. Fellas too. Kid was getting marriage requests on Instagram. But then he didn’t perform like expectations suggested he should.

Expectations, by the way, that were perhaps out of whack. Not to say he can’t or won’t reach dizzying heights but the road there is long and littered with human refuse, of people who didn’t negotiate the curves and hazards.

Media was slobbering over him; a Garcia story would draw clicks. And fans were slobbering…but haters were busy too.

The kid was in the arena doing it and wasn’t shy about proclaiming his excellence. He was getting the marriage offers…and haters weren’t.

Living in mom’s basement, online dating isn’t working; job prospects are poor. Might as well take an online shot at King Ry and tell him he ain’t shit.

Henry Garcia spoke to RingTV.com during a media workout, at Madison Square Garden, as he counted down to Ryan’s fight against Braulio Rodriguez. Garcia will be in the kid’s corner, watching and listening to Eddy Reynoso, Canelo Alvarez’s tutor, who has been working the last couple months with Ryan. “Ryan is taking it a step further with his defense and that was key. We needed more movement. Conditioning was the key. We took it to another level,” Henry stated when asked what is new in Ryan’s arsenal. “We strengthened our team.” Henry agreed that sometimes we don’t know what we don’t know, “It’s just filling in the gaps.”

I asked if the fight Saturday would be a showcase or a tough outing. Somewhere in between, probably. “Ryan is going to steal the show,” Pop stated. The kid is 16-0 (with 13 knockouts) and he tasted blowback when he didn’t stop Jayson Velez in May. No big deal; the team was ready to regroup. Then there was a bit of confusion. Dad wasn’t training Ryan for the September bout against Carlos Morales, not till the end. And no KO in that one either…

Lightweight prospect Ryan Garcia (left). Photo credit: Tom Hogan/HoganPhotos/Golden Boy Promotions

Lightweight prospect Ryan Garcia (left). Photo credit: Tom Hogan/HoganPhotos/Golden Boy Promotions

Expectations were high and the kid didn’t meet them. Barbs, slings and arrows came on Twitter. Marriage proposals fell off, proposals reevaluating a probable trajectory were plentiful. “But it was a blessing in disguise,” the father said of the hubbub, which he termed “personal issues.”

“Thing happen for a reason…it humbled him. That, to me, is worth more than anything around us. You need to be humbled in this sport, so you realize the value in the position you are in. Had this not happened to him, we wouldn’t be here; this wouldn’t have happened. This was great! Blessing in disguise, that’s the key!”

Rodriguez (19-3, 7 KOs) is coming off back-to-back losses, to Alberto Mercado and then Christopher Diaz. Diaz stopped him and I expect Garcia to as well…

“This year definitely was a blessing in disguise,” Ryan said, after he finished his in-ring workout and chat with emcee Mark Fratto of Linacre Media.

He loves the tutelage he’s received from Reynoso, it seems. They’ve been drilling defense, hour after hour. “Our defense is crazy right now and the biggest thing I learned from Canelo is mindset,” Ryan said. On the way up, Canelo told the kid he tried every day to be better. “I’m ready to prove to everybody and to myself what I can do in the ring. I just want to show everybody I improved. I don’t care if I get the KO; I just want to prove to everybody how good I am.”

Ryan Garcia (right) and one of his biggest fans, Golden Boy Promotions founder Oscar De La Hoya. Photo credit: HoganPhotos/Golden Boy Promotions

Ryan Garcia (right) and one of his biggest fans, Golden Boy Promotions founder Oscar De La Hoya. Photo credit: HoganPhotos/Golden Boy Promotions

My three cents: Garcia got humbled in just about the best way one can. He didn’t get dropped and stopped. He just didn’t look as good as critics and pundits had built expectations to suggest.

And then the “build up to tear down” dynamic kicked in…And dad and the kid are right. It was indeed a cleverly disguised blessing.

Another interesting element here is now we’ll see what Eddy Reynoso can do with a lesser-refined talent. Can his teaching tactics work nearly as well with Garcia as they did with Canelo?

All in all, Garcia had a much better year than some would say. Expectations are lower; the spotlight isn’t so white-hot. There isn’t talk of him selling out arenas. He can focus on work, on getting better, so his skill set can quite possibly catch up with the expectations of 2017.

 

 

Woods is first Vice President of the Boxing Writers Association of America. You can follow him on Twitter @Woodsy1069.

 

 

 

 

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