Ryan Garcia will soon return to ring following a resounding first-round knockout of Romero Duno in November with another stiff test as he continues paving a path for himself to transition from touted prospect to breakout star. 

The 21-year-old Garcia (19-0, 16 KOs) is close to finalizing a deal to fight Francisco Fonseca on Feb. 14 at the Honda Center in Anaheim as the main event on DAZN, according to multiple sources aware of negotiations. 

In addition to yet another tough opponent, the fight will look to prove the lightweight Garcia’s drawing status as a headliner — a task he was calling for during his contentious summer negotiating a new deal with his promoter, Golden Boy.

Fittingly, the social media heartthrob will engage in battle on Valentine’s Day. Slated for the co-feature slot for the event will be Jorge Linares, who’s looking to bounce back following an uneven 2019 that included a loss to Pablo Cesar Cano. The plan is to pit the two Golden Boy-promoted stablemates for a fight later in 2020.

Fonseca (25-2-2, 19 KOs), a 25-year-old Nicaraguan native, has only lost to Gervonta Davis in 2017 and Tevin Farmer in 2018, both times for the IBF super featherweight title. Those fights were also the only two times Fonseca, mostly a mainstay in Costa Rica, has fought in the United States.

A Fonseca fight with Garcia would take place at lightweight. 

Fonseca, the younger brother of pro boxer Freddy Fonseca (27-5-1, 18 KOs), is coming off a majority draw against Alex Dilmaghani in November. He is 3-0-1 in his last four fights since losing to Farmer last December. 

On that same card, Garcia made his DAZN debut on the Canelo Alvarez versus Rocky Fielding undercard with a knockout of Braulio Rodriguez.

 It was Garcia’s first fight training under Eddy Reynoso, Alvarez’s coach.

Garcia has been in the gym over the holidays training alongside stablemate Alavarez in San Diego, all while teasing his close-to-done deal with Fonseca on social media. 

Manouk Akopyan is a sports journalist and member of the Boxing Writers Assn. of America since 2011. He has written for the likes of the Guardian, USA Today, Philadelphia Inquirer, Men’s Health and NFL.com and currently does TV commentary for combat sports programming that airs on Fox Sports and hosts his own radio show in Los Angeles. He can be reached on Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn and YouTube at @ManoukAkopyan or via email at manouk.akopyan@gmail.com.