LAS VEGAS – Ryan Garcia gave his critics the type of fight he feels they wanted.
The polarizing prospect doubts that they’ll reciprocate by giving him his just due if he defeats Romero Duno on Saturday night. Garcia and his handlers have touted Duno as the best opponent of the unbeaten lightweight’s three-year pro career.
The 10-rounder between Garcia (18-0, 15 KOs), of Victorville, California, and Duno (21-1, 16 KOs), of Cotabato City, Philippines, will be the co-featured fight before Canelo Alvarez and Sergey Kovalev meet in the main event at MGM Grand Garden Arena.
“You know, this fight is a big fight,” Garcia said Thursday during a press conference at MGM Grand. “It’s a big moment, you know? There’s a lot of hype around it. A lot of things been said, you know, about me for not taking the fight in September. But look, I’m taking it now. This is where it had to be. It’s a big moment, on a big stage. And, you know, you’ve got two hungry fighters, two prospects. And, you know, Romero Duno, he’s a knockout puncher. He’s gonna come try and knock me out. So, you know, you guys need to be excited for this fight because it’s very dangerous.
“And I took it, and I wanna prove to you guys what kind of fighter I am. So, I took a young fighter that’s up and coming. So, he’s hungry. I didn’t take an old guy. I didn’t an old veteran that’s out the door. I took a young, hungry, hard-hitting fighter. So, I hope to prove everybody wrong. But, you know, I probably won’t get my respect at the end of the day. But it’s OK. Because as long as I put on the best performance I can and leave the best show I can for November 2nd. Everybody tune in. Let’s go!”
The 21-year-old Garcia turned down Duno as an extremely late replacement for Avery Sparrow in mid-September. Philadelphia’s Sparrow (10-1, 3 KOs, 1 NC) was arrested the day before he was supposed to box Garcia on September 14 at Dignity Health Sports Park in Carson, California.
Fans heavily criticized Garcia for not facing Duno on only 24 hours’ notice.
Garcia quickly quelled their skepticism by agreeing to face the 24-year-old Duno on the Alvarez-Kovalev undercard. Garcia is trained by Eddy Reynoso and Jose “Chepo” Reynoso, the father/son tandem that has guided Alvarez throughout his celebrated career.
“I just got a lot of haters and they wanna see me lose,” Garcia said. “So, even if I knock him out or I put on a beautiful boxing performance, they’re just not gonna give me my respect. But I’m OK with that. I’m OK with being confident in myself. If I perform good, then I feel good, no matter what anybody says. But, you know, I have a lot of respect for Romero Duno, you know?
“For the most part, he’s very humble. Sometimes, you know, it confuses me when he wears T-shirts that say, you know, ‘Ryan Garcia, you’re running.’ So honestly, I’m very confused at the end of the day. But I really do have respect for him. I really do. He’s a good person.”
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.