Ryan Garcia says that his 15-month hiatus from boxing tending to mental health issues was a serious setback from further building on his budding career. 

After knocking out Luke Cambell on Jan. 2, 2021, Garcia was inactive until his April 9, 2022 fight against Emmanuel Tagoe. In between that period of time, in addition to focusing on his mental health, Garcia also recovered from wrist surgery. 

After the Tagoe fight, the 25-year-old Garcia (23-1, 19 KOs) would go on to knock out Javier Fortuna in July 2022 and suffered a knockout loss to Gervonta Davis in April. 

Garcia is next set to face Oscar Duarte (26-1-1, 21 KOs) on Saturday on Dec. 2 at the Toyota Center in Houston on DAZN.

The fight will mark Garcia’s sixth bout since November 2019.

“My mental health break really caused me to stumble and made me take a lot of steps back,” Garcia told BoxingScene.com in an interview.  

“I got involved with things that take away from how you sharpen your boxing. When I tried to get back into it I lost a step and never knew how to get it back. Life was moving so fast. I felt so much pressure to get back in the ring and make money. It never let me get my foot set and get back in the gym and learn, and remember the things that I knew to do, what made me, me. It was a hard time figuring it out but this loss [to Davis] helped it. Because now I'm awake and so focused. I feel the fire and focus now. It's going to be fun and magical. I can't wait for people to see it. I'm going to set a tone and example out of Duarte for everyone at 140 pounds. This is how I'm coming. Be prepared. I'm not letting my foot off the gas after this. I want to keep fighting and stay active, whether a big fight happens or not. I have to stay active because that's the one thing that's crippled me. When I'm active, I'm on fire. You've seen it before. When I fight continuously I’m only going to be better. It's when I get thrown bullsh!t curve balls … I'm tired of getting done like that. Now I’m going to stay focused and consistent.”

After a five-fight stint with trainer Eddy Reynoso and a three-fight run with coach Joe Goossen, Garcia has now linked up with reigning trainer of the year Derrick James. 

The duo will make their debut Saturday, and Garcia insists he’s more dedicated than ever despite earning nearly $30 million against Davis.

“I don't care about the money. Money doesn't define me. Money comes and goes. Money is nothing to me,” said Garcia.

“Now it's about being a world champion. Money is great. I'm blessed. I'm thankful for it, but that's not going to define me. What's going to define me is how I come back from this [loss to Davis].” 

Manouk Akopyan is a sports journalist, writer, and broadcast reporter. He’s also a member of the Boxing Writers Association of America and the MMA Journalists Association. He can be reached on Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, and YouTube at @ManoukAkopyan, through email at manouk[dot]akopyan[at]gmail.com, or via www.ManoukAkopyan.com.