Nobody expected Ryan Garcia to remain at the level of his last fight.
Still, there was the expectation that the 25-year-old California native would ease his way back into contention after suffering his first pro defeat.
Given that, there was some surprise that came with his opponent selection of Oscar Duarte, a red-hot knockout artist from Chihuahua, Mexico. The two will meet in a scheduled 12-round junior welterweight bout atop a December 2 DAZN show from Toyota Center in Houston, Texas.
“If I expect to become a champion, I can't be taking easy fights and think that's going get me there,” Garcia stated during the kickoff press conference held Wednesday at Toyota Center. “So, I knew that Oscar was a challenge.
“I’m refreshed, I’m honing my skills and focused on becoming a champion at 140. I feel like Oscar was the perfect person to come back against.”
Garcia (23-1, 19KOs) stepped up in class for his previous outing, a seventh-round knockout defeat to Gervonta ‘Tank’ Davis (29-0, 27KOs). Their April 22 superfight produced more than $120,000,000 in revenue between ticket sales and units sold for the Showtime Pay-Per-View event.
However, the night left Garcia without his unblemished record, and his future in doubt given the very public feud with promoter Oscar De La Hoya. The two have put aside their differences just enough so that he can resume his career, a redemption tour that also includes head trainer Derrick James whose services he secured earlier this spring.
The decision to face Duarte (26-1-1, 21KOs) was bold. The 28-year-old Mexican has knocked out each of his last eleven opponents, though he will rise in weight as Garcia wants to prepare for what he hopes to be a championship run at junior welterweight.
“He's fast. He's strong. He's got good timing. So it just made sense for me, this fight,” noted Garcia, who has been training out of James’ facility in the greater Dallas area. “If I show what I could do, it can prepare me for the bigger fights. So that’s where I am at now.”
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox