Ryan Garcia: I’m already a star, but I want to become a world champion
If there was a world title belt for social media popularity in boxing, Ryan Garcia would own it.
Garcia has garnered a significant Instagram following and among young boxing fans, both male and female. Could his large following equate to one day headlining a huge event? According to him, absolutely.
Garcia will face Avery Sparrow Saturday night at Dignity Health Sports Park (formerly known as the StubHub Center) in Carson, California. The 10-round lightweight fight will precede the main event bout between WBO junior middleweight titleholder Jaime Munguia and challenger Patrick Allotey. Both fights will stream live on DAZN (9 p.m. ET/ 6 p.m. PT).
The appeal of Garcia (18-0, 15 knockouts), who resides in Victorville, California, could one day pay dividends for him and Golden Boy, which promotes him. Some say that day will come some time after he wins his first world title, but Garcia believes his time for headliners and big paydays is now.
“Everything that comes with this new generation, I’m probably the first boxer to have such a huge following before they actually become a champion,” Garcia said. “The same way a fighter gets paid (should be because) of viewership. Say the way a (Floyd) Mayweather would get paid. An Oscar (De La Hoya). It matters on how many people watch at the end of the day. This is a business. What are my numbers and base (the pay) on that. I’m not trying to get over anybody.”
Getting over on Sparrow (10-1 1 NC, 3 KOs) may not be easy.
The Philadelphian notched the biggest win of his career in his last bout on March 15, dropping former contender Hank Lundy twice en route to a majority decision victory. The 25-year-old had moved up in weight after becoming a fringe junior lightweight contender and beating two unbeaten prospects.
But Garcia is an evolving fighter. He credits trainer Eddy Reynoso, who also trains Canelo Alvarez, for improving his skillset over the last two fights, especially with implementing head movement and working behind a more-consistent jab.
“Eddy doesn’t play around,” he said. “Eddy really wants me to get better. He really believes in me. He’s seen it in the gym. Just like Canelo said in my last fight, what I do in the gym, I do in the ring. You haven’t fully seen all the things I’ve learned because I did knock out Jose (Lopez) in the second round. Pretty quick.”
Garcia says he is not overlooking Sparrow, who outpointed Lopez in 2017.
“(In) this fight, you will see a lot more because Avery is not the easiest to get to at first,” said Garcia. “He’s fast. He likes to counter-punch. He likes to do all this stuff. But he’s not going to be able to last. I don’t think so. If he does, it’ll be a great fight.”
There is a lot on the line Saturday night for Garcia. A source told The Ring earlier this week the unbeaten fighter could fight on the proposed Canelo Alvarez-Sergey Kovalev card on November 2 should he defeat Sparrow and does not come out cut or injured.
Even before turning pro in June 2016, and then signing a promotional deal with Golden Boy four months later, Garcia has believed he was destined to be great. With all the criticisms he has faced in recent months, including having a public spat over social media with his child’s mother, Garcia remains dialed in on his goal of winning a world title.
While his attitude may border on cocky, but there is a mixture of hunger and pride that fuels Garcia.
“I always felt I always was that guy,” he said. “I always had that drive to get there. I never focused on anybody else. These fighters that show envy and jealousy, if you worry about yourself and bring yourself up, you’ll meet your goals. When you focus your energy somewhere else, you can’t build yourself up. You’re getting drained from everywhere else. Just focus on yourself. Build it, build it, build it. Once you’re there, everything will come into place.
“I just need to stay humble, work hard, (and) get the fights that I know I need to have. I’m already a star. There’s another level and I will reach it once I become a world champion.”
Francisco A. Salazar has written for The Ring since October of 2013 and has covered boxing in Southern California and abroad since 2000. Francisco also covers boxing for the Ventura County (Calif.) Star newspaper, Boxingscene.com, and FightNights.com. He can be reached by email at [email protected] or on Twitter at FSalazarBoxing