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Ryan Garcia battling mental health issues, withdraws from Javier Fortuna bout

Ryan Garcia prior to his fight with veteran Luke Campbell in Dallas. Photo by Tom Hogan-HoganPhotos/ Golden Boy Promotions
Fighters Network

Ryan Garcia, one of boxing’s emerging superstars, withdrew on Saturday from his 12-round lightweight bout with Javier Fortuna, citing a need “to manage my health and well being.”

Fortuna promoter Sampson Lewkowicz said that Golden Boy president Eric Gomez told him Garcia was having mental health issues and that is why he withdrew from the bout.

“Eric called me this morning and said (Garcia) has mental health issues and that he decided not to fight,” Lewkowicz said. “I have a signed contract but what do I do with a signed contract? The only thing I need is a solution. Maybe he changed his mind about fighting Fortuna. Whatever it is I wish him a speedy recovery.”

Garcia was due to face Fortuna in the main event of a Golden Boy Promotions card on DAZN on July 9 at a site to be determined, although Los Angeles was likely to serve as the host.

Now it is off, however. Garcia posted to his social media on Saturday that he would not be fighting.

“I know this news may be disappointing to some of my fans but I am announcing today that I am withdrawing from my July 9th fight,” Garcia wrote. “At this time it is important to manage my health and well being. I have decided to take some time off to focus on becoming a stronger version of myself. I hope to be back soon and am looking forward to stepping back into the ring when I am my healthiest self. I want to Thank God, my family, my doctors and my supporters.”

Last month, Garcia posted on social media that he was having mental health struggles.

“I still struggle everyday with anxiety and depression at times because of my anxiety,” Garcia wrote. “I’m here to tell you it’s still possible to reach your dreams. There is ways to cope, I know I look like someone who is happy all the time but inside I hurt at times struggling just to function but I choose to keep moving forward. I love you guys keep going.”

The WBC-mandated bout between Garcia and Fortuna was agreed to two weeks ago and would have been the second bona fide contender in a row that Garcia (21-0, 18 KOs), 22, of Victorville, California, would have faced.

On Jan. 2, “KingRy” survived a hard knockdown in the second round but otherwise controlled and then knocked out England’s Luke Campbell, a former two-time world title challenger and Olympic gold medalist, in the seventh round at the American Airlines Center in Dallas.

Fortuna (36-2-1, 25 KOs), 31, of the Dominican Republic, is a former secondary junior lightweight world titlist and a winner of three fights in a row. Most recently he scored a sixth-round knockout of Antonio Lozada on Nov. 21 at Staples Center in Los Angeles.

The WBC had said that the Garcia-Fortuna winner would be named the official mandatory challenger for world titleholder Devin Haney (25-0, 15 KOs), 22, of Las Vegas, who first is scheduled to make his third title defense against former three-division world titlist Jorge Linares (47-5, 29 KOs), 35, of Venezuela, on May 29 (DAZN) at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas.

Lewkowicz said that he hopes that the WBC will strip Garcia of the interim belt and order Fortuna to fight another opponent for that title.

But Fortuna would still like to eventually face Garcia.

“I wish Ryan Garcia a speedy recovery,” Fortuna said in a statement. “There are things more important than fighting and I hope he is able to quickly recover. We can reschedule our fight for a time when I can face and beat a 100 percent prepared version of Ryan Garcia.”

Asked about Garcia’s withdrawal from the bout, Golden Boy CEO Oscar De La Hoya responded in a text message, “Don’t know. Just seeing this.”

De La Hoya later issued a statement, saying, “The health of our fighters is of the utmost importance to us at Golden Boy. We wholeheartedly support Ryan Garcia and wish him the best during this time.”

Golden Boy president Eric Gomez responded to a text message with “No Comment.”