Ryan Garcia and Javier Fortuna are back in each other’s crosshairs.
BoxingScene.com has confirmed that a deal has been reached between the two camps to proceed with the long-planned lightweight bout to take place July 16 at Crypto.com Arena (formerly Staples Center) in Los Angeles. A formal announcement is expected in the coming days, with all involved parties declining comment since the fight was not yet made official.
The scheduled 12-round bout settles unfinished business from when the two were due to collide last July 9 at nearby Banc of California Stadium on USC campus in Los Angeles. Garcia (22-0, 18KOs) withdrew from the event to instead focus on his mental health, with Fortuna remaining in the main event in an eventual loss to Joseph Diaz Jr.
Dominican Republic’s Fortuna (37-3-1, 26KOs) has since rebounded with a confidence-restoring first-round knockout of Rafael Hernandez this past February in his nation’s Santo Domingo capital. The 33-year-old southpaw—who trains in the greater Boston area—emerged as the frontrunner to face Garcia on July 16, for which Golden Boy kept a soft hold on Crypto.com Arena in hopes of announcing the fight weeks ago.
The plans were interrupted when the WBC unexpectedly ordered a title eliminator between Victorville, California’s Garcia and Mexico City’s Isaac Cruz (23-2-1, 16KOs).
Garcia and Golden Boy were willing to entertain the fight, even if it meant a 50-50 purse split with Cruz. The issue on their end was that Garcia’s plans were on hold for as long as the ordered title eliminator remained on the clock, as it was up to Cruz and his team to inform the WBC of their plans to not proceed. Once that happened—Cruz’s handlers claiming he already has a fight secured for August—Golden Boy was able to resume talks with Sampson Lewkowicz, Fortuna’s promoter who enjoys a strong working relationship with the California-based promotional outfit.
Garcia ended a 15-month ring absence with a twelve-round, unanimous decision win over Ghana’s Emmanuel Tagoe (32-2, 15KOs) this past April 9 at Alamodome in San Antonio, Texas. The event was a box office hit, generating a live gate of $1,307,735 from 12,314 tickets sold among the announced total attendance of 14,459 for Garcia’s triumphant ring return.
The fight was the first for Garcia under new trainer Joe Goossen, leaving Eddy Reynoso’s gym after more than three years under the tutelage of the two-time Trainer of the Year. It was also his first fight since an off-the-canvas, seventh-round knockout of England’s Luke Campbell last January 2 at American Airlines Center in Dallas.
Campbell (20-4, 16KOs) was the best credentialed opponent of Garcia’s career, a 2012 Olympic Gold medalist and former title challenger who’d never been stopped. The Brit floored Garcia in the second round, only for Garcia to prove his mettle in resuming control and going on to knock out Campbell in the seventh-round of their thriller. The event resonated well with the public, selling 4,218 tickets during Covid restrictions and creating an instant buzz for Garcia to face fellow divisional young guns in WBC lightweight titlist Devin Haney, then-unbeaten and unified lightweight champ Teofimo Lopez and box-office star and knockout artist Gervonta ‘Tank’ Davis.
Naturally, none of the fights materialized. Lopez (16-1, 12KOs) has since lost his belts to Australia’s George Kambosos Jr. (20-0, 10KOs), who will in turn face Haney (27-0, 15KOs) for the undisputed championship this weekend in Melbourne, Australia.
Garcia was ringside for Davis’ latest conquest, a sixth-round knockout of previously unbeaten Rolando Romero (14-1, 12KOs) this past Saturday in front of a sold-out and record-breaking crowd at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York. Viral videos have made the rounds of a light-hearted verbal exchange between Garcia and Leonard Ellerbe—Davis’ promoter and CEO of Mayweather Promotions—in discussing a Davis-Garcia fight. Garcia asked to be allowed to handle his business on July 16 to move forward with such a fight for later this year.
For now, Garcia has his own brand of unfinished business in Fortuna. That said, the fight being made as planned keeps Garcia on course for an intended three-fight campaign in 2022.
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox