DALLAS—The best parts of Ryan Garcia are motivated by the support of his adoring fans and fueled by his harshest critics.
That should never be mistaken, however, as a need to satisfy all sides.
“I embrace the criticism as a chance to show people you’re not who they say you are,” Garcia told BoxingScene.com ahead of this Saturday’s interim lightweight title fight versus England’s Luke Campbell. “You are who you choose to be. That’s my takeaway from all those people who try to label me as—one—just a social media hype job and—two—someone who took the game by storm just because of my marketability.
“I came into the game because I dedicated my whole life to be where I’m at.”
His rising popularity is a significant factor in Garcia (20-0, 17KOs) landing his second consecutive DAZN headliner and third within his past four fights. The 22-year old unbeaten lightweight contender from Victorville, California is blessed with serving in the first televised main event of 2021, versus his toughest test to date in Campbell (20-3, 16KOs)— a 2012 Olympic Gold medalist and former two-time title challenger.
The bout will take place in front a sold-out crowd at American Airlines Center in Dallas, Texas, marking the fifth for Garcia under the tutelage of renowned cornerman Eddy Reynoso. Their time together has seen Garcia score four knockouts in as many fights, including consecutive 1st round stoppages over Romero Duno and former two-time title challenger Francisco Fonseca in his past two starts.
Still, there comes mass skepticism from a pocket of the industry who remain convinced that Garcia is getting by on his social media following and movie-star looks. A win over an established contender such as Campbell should silence at least some critics, although there has come the realization that you can never please all of the people all of the time.
“I’m always going to show my heart out there every time I fight,” insists Garcia, who is aiming for all of the top lightweights with a win this weekend. “That’s all that I can do. Whoever I can touch, I will touch. That’s just my main goal.
“When I step into the ring, I’m not necessarily trying to prove myself to anybody or focus on any of that negativity. I’m just all about trying to inspire the people who are willing to be inspired.”
The scheduled 12-round lightweight bout will air live on DAZN, with the telecast to begin at 3:00 p.m. ET (2:00 p.m. local time). Ring walks for the main event are estimated to go around 6:00 p.m. ET.
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox