SAN ANTONIO – Ryan Garcia anticipated an adoring crowd on hand for his first fight week session in more than 15 months.

The unbeaten lightweight contender was mildly—though pleasantly—surprised to see one particular party stick around for his media workout arrival. Emmanuel Tagoe—Garcia’s opponent this Saturday—stayed put well after his own workout session, joining Garcia in the ring Wednesday afternoon at the Will Naylor Smith Riverwalk Plaza in downtown San Antonio where the two exchanged words before and after being separated by their respective teams.

“He’s a big fan, I appreciate his love and support,” Garcia quipped after the session.

Little more than verbal jabs were thrown by both lightweights days ahead of their actual fight, which takes place this Saturday on DAZN at San Antonio’s famed Alamodome. Both boxers are coming off extended inactive periods, with Ghana’s Tagoe (32-1, 15KOs) having not fought since November 2020 while Garcia has been out of the ring since his off-the-canvas, seventh-round knockout of England’s Luke Campbell (20-4, 16KOs) last January in Dallas.

A mental health reset and subsequent surgery to repair an injured right wrist forced Garcia out of two scheduled dates in 2021, though now back at full strength and ready to further his career.

The first fight back for the 23-year-old Victorville, California native comes against the streaking Tagoe, who has not lost since his June 2004 pro debut as a 15-year-old in his native Ghana. Garcia was already looking forward to the challenge from the moment the fight was announced earlier this year. Recent comments by Tagoe—including the Ghanaian’s insistence that Garcia is in over his head—have heightened tensions to a degree, as shown during what was meant to be a lighthearted media affair on Wednesday.

“I gave him a little taste of his own medicine,” Garcia claimed of the brief in-ring skirmish, which never threatened to evolve beyond taunts despite the show put on for the passionate crowd on hand. “I’ve been respectful for pretty much the whole way through.

“From recent things I’ve heard and things that he said, I wanted to test how he really felt. It didn’t disappoint. Being in front of him, I know my presence is too much for him.”

Jake Donovan is a senior writer for Twitter: @JakeNDaBox