Ryan Garcia couldn’t ask for better mentors in relation to proven wrong those who constantly insist what he can’t accomplish.
Next up for the unbeaten lightweight contender is a dangerous crossroads showdown with England’s Luke Campbell (20-3, 16KOs), with the two due to ring in the New Year atop a January 2 DAZN-streamed show from American Airlines Center in Dallas, Texas. The bout marks a step up in class for the 22-year old Garcia (20-0, 17KOs), who has spent most of his young career proving critics wrong as he climbs the lightweight ranks.
Of course, without those naysayers might not come that extra push needed to further his career.
“Ryan is hearing that clearly. He listens to his fans and his haters,” Bernard Hopkins, García’s promoter and Golden Boy Promotions Partner told BoxingScene.com. “Ryan needs that kind of conversation with people telling him what he can’t do—he’s too pretty, he’s skinny, he’s not a big puncher. But he’s an accurate puncher. The last time I spoke to a lot of people that have been knocked out, they didn’t see the punch coming. That’s what knocked them out – the one you don’t see coming and can’t prepare for.”
García enters having scored four straight knockouts, all coming since joining forces with renowned trainer Eddy Reynoso, best work for his work with Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez. The move came about after a hard-fought 10-round majority decision victory over Carlos Morales in 2018, a teachable win on the way up which reminded the Victorville, California product how much more he had to learn to advance to the contender stage.
It has been a dominant run ever since, and not by dumbing down the competition. García was expected to go rounds with Romero Duno last November as well as former two-time title challenger Francisco Fonseca in his previous bout this past February. The two bouts both ended inside of a round, in fact combining for less than three minutes of ring action.
Still, García remains with his healthy share of skeptics.
The reasons are far different to those heard by Hopkins during his hard-fought road to respectability but still relatable. The fighting pride of Philadelphia carved out a Hall of Fame career feeding off of those who insisted he wouldn’t amount to anything, overcoming the odds to enjoy a record-breaking middleweight title reign and two tours as a light heavyweight champion.
With that experience comes wisdom to pass along to the next generation of talent under the Golden Boy Promotions banner—with García poised to lead the pack.
“He uses a lot of the negativity and just as well proving to his fans that he’s the best,” notes Hopkins. “I think both things will help him, not hurt him. It reminds me of my days when I used to do things and say things to get under people’s skin, and when they thought they got under my skin.”
England's Campbell has never really showed signs of becoming undone during a fight, much less in the buildup to an event. The 2012 Olympic Gold medalist has twice fought on the title stage, suffering points losses to Jorge Linares and Vasiliy Lomachenko though offering a credible performance in both outings.
With that comes the raised expectations of García, including those who believe he's in over his head. On the other side are those who believe in the unbeaten lightweight, including those at Golden Boy Promotions who see this test as a sink-or-swim moment which García will survive and plead his case for taking his career to the next level.
“I expect him to win by knockout, but a dogfight early,” believes Hopkins. “Campbell is rough and tough—if he does back up early, then you know something happened. If Ryan rolls over Campbell and makes it look easy to the point where others had a tough time with him—it’s not a wrap, but it’s a wrap that night.
“It’s then the conversation of who he fights next.”
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox