Ryan Garcia is just 21-years-old. The Golden Boy-promoted boxer has had to grow up in front of the eyes of millions with a budding boxing career, a side gig as a model and social media status to boot.
It hasn't always been so smooth. He’s had nasty spats with boss Oscar De La Hoya and the mother of his child on social media.
Garcia (19-0, 16 KOs) has survived the growing pains in the ring though, and will now headline as the main event at the Honda Center in Anaheim, Calif. on Friday against Francisco Fonseca (25-2-2, 19 KOs). The fight will stream on DAZN.
“I’ve just matured,” Garcia said Tuesday. “I feel like if I could have matured even faster, I could be better than what I was right now. If I could have just settled down just a little bit more, and buckle down. It was just a lot coming quickly. I didn’t side track like crazy, but I could have been even more focused than I was.”
Garcia’s maturation has been expedited with the tutelage of training mate Canelo Alvarez and his coaches Eddy and Chepo Reynoso.
“I’m learning little tricks and defensive moves from the Reynosos,” said Garcia. “They go a long way. It makes me more comfortable there. It’s been a great improvement. With my dedication, I’m always looking to improve, and how to get better. Even if I’m killing you, it’s about looking unstoppable. When I’m winning a fight, how do I push it to end the fight? That’s the mentality that I have, and the Reynosos have the same dedication as me.”
Should Garcia get past Fonseca on Valentine’s Day, larger fights will loom. All signs are pointing to Garcia fighting Jorge Linares next should Linares come away with a victory as the co-main event Friday.
De La Hoya also issued a challenge to the hard-hitting Gervonta Davis, a task Garcia says he's already prepared for.
“I don’t want to lose. I don’t want to give up anything. If you beat me, you have to be a beast and an animal … you have to be able to think fast and smart,” said Garcia. “I’m excited for my future fights. I can truly turn into an animal in the ring. I’m a whole different person in the ring. I’m moving fast, but everything is looking slow.”
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 LA Times, 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 [email protected].