Boxing world shows support to Ryan Garcia after withdrawing from fight
There are few boxers who have more reasons to be frustrated than Javier Fortuna. Since the beginning of last year, Fortuna has seen fights with Luke Campbell, Devin Haney and Jorge Linares ordered or agreed upon, only to see them fall apart for various reasons.
When the same fate befell his July 9 bout with Ryan Garcia, Fortuna set aside his personal ambitions to show compassion and understanding for the young rising star who has spoken openly about his mental health battles.
“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 Garcia.”
While Garcia didn’t mention a specific reason for his abrupt withdrawal from the DAZN main event, the 22-year-old wrote last month on Instagram that he still struggles “everyday with anxiety and depression.”
“Some days I cry some days I don’t even want to speak. I give my all just to function at times. But I try my best to keep a smile for all of you I love you guys who look up to me.”
Garcia added in his statement Saturday that he will be taking time off from the sport to “to focus on becoming a stronger version of myself.”
Garcia’s openness about his struggles drew almost unanimous support from the boxing community, with Teofimo Lopez, the RING champion in Garcia’s division, lightweight, praising him for speaking up.
“It takes a brave soul like Ryan Garcia to openly express that he’s going through tough times mentally. Instead of pointing the finger at him maybe you all should take a lesson from it!,” wrote Lopez on Twitter.
“We’re all dealing with something so what makes us any better?”
It takes a brave soul like Ryan Garcia to openly express that he's going through tough times mentally. Instead of pointing the finger at him maybe you all should take a lesson from it!
We're all dealing with something so what makes us any better? #LOVEyours
— Teofimo Lopez (@TeofimoLopez) April 24, 2021
Jamel Herring, the WBO junior lightweight titleholder, also called on people to be understanding towards Garcia’s struggles.
“Pray for the kid, Ryan Garcia. It’s easy to criticize, but we never fully try to understand what some may be dealing with, behind closed doors,” said Herring.
Promoter Lou DiBella is among the most outspoken on mental health issues in the sport of boxing. For DiBella, the issue is personal, having lost his only brother to suicide at age 25. DiBella didn’t hold his tongue after seeing some within the online boxing community criticize Garcia for taking steps he felt were the healthiest for him to bear.
“There are too many pieces of shit in the niche world of #boxing and it becomes most obvious when humanity and understanding are called for. There is NOTHING more important than health and well-being. Feel better, Ryan Garcia. Do what you need to. Godspeed,” wrote DiBella.
There are too many pieces of shit in the niche world of #boxing and it becomes most obvious when humanity and understanding are called for. There is NOTHING more important than health and well-being. Feel better, Ryan Garcia. Do what you need to. Godspeed. #MentalHealthMatters https://t.co/VIVenn84QT
— Lou DiBella (@loudibella) April 24, 2021
Former IBF junior lightweight titleholder Tevin Farmer said the vulnerability shown by Garcia should highlight even athletes have real life struggles, too.
“Whoever criticize Ryan Garcia is a butt hole. What y’all think fighters don’t go through shit. We human just like you MF’s,” said Farmer.
Former Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Dez Bryant has been public about his own struggles with anxiety and depression, and reportedly turned down a $13 million contract with the Baltimore Ravens in 2018 amid his own struggles. The NFL free agent had been offered his support on Twitter.
“Mental health is a very serious matter and I hope Ryan Garcia get better but Javier fortuna was going to be a tough opponent for him regardless,” said Bryant.
Mental health is a very serious matter and I hope Ryan Garcia get better but Javier fortuna was going to be a tough opponent for him regardless
— Dez Bryant (@DezBryant) April 24, 2021
Former IBF super middleweight titleholder Caleb Plant wrote, “Hoping for the best for Ryan Garcia. Like him or not, #boxing is better with what he brings to the table.”
DAZN ring announcer Michael Buffer writes,” I count myself among Ryan Garcia fans along w/boxing fans everywhere wishing all the best to Ryan for a speedy recovery & good health!”
Despite his own battles, Garcia has expressed optimism about the outcome.
“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,” said Garcia.
Those in the United States can find confidential help 24 hours a day by calling the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. The International Association for Suicide Prevention and Befrienders Worldwide offer support for those who need it around the world.