By: Hans Themistode
Ryan Garcia was on the verge of making 2021 his breakout year. On the second day of the new year, the 23-year-old proved he was more than just some flashy fighter by picking himself up off the deck against Luke Campbell to score a seventh-round stoppage victory.
From there, the boxing world appeared to be his oyster. But, despite agreeing to take on former multiple division titlist Javier Fortuna later that Summer, Garcia was forced to withdraw from their contest due to mental health issues. Upon his return, Garcia was set to face off against Joseph Diaz. But, unfortunately for Garcia, the hits just kept on coming as he was given no choice but to pull out of his contest against Diaz due to right wrist surgery.
With everything going well in the doctor’s office, the former lightweight interim titlist is edging closer and closer to making his return in the first quarter of the new year. Although Garcia has been forced to watch his fellow 135 pounders from the sidelines, the California native has an ideal opponent in mind for his return to the ring. That said, even Garcia admitted, it wasn’t very likely.
“I want to go right after [George] Kambosos,” said Garcia to World Boxing News. “I told my team I want to jump right in and get him because I might as well go and get all the belts coming back. But it’s not gonna happen.”
Kambosos Jr., 28, is coming off one of the more shocking upsets of the year. On November 27th, at Madison Square Garden’s Hulu Theater, the Australian native walked into the backyard of Teofimo Lopez as a sizable underdog. Despite the long odds, Kambosos Jr. would strip Lopez of his WBA, WBO, IBF, and WBC “Franchise” titles via split decision.
In a perfect world, the unlikely unified champion would be the first fighter Garcia faces after spending over a year out of the ring. However, with that contest unlikely to materialize, Garcia has other ideas.
One week after witnessing Kambosos Jr. pull off the massive upset, Garcia watched closely as he believes another one should have taken place as well. On December 5th, at Staples Center in Los Angeles, California, Gervonta Davis was mostly expected to have an easy time against rough and rugged contender Isaac Cruz. Yet, in spite of that notion, Cruz gave Davis everything he could handle, before losing a highly competitive unanimous decision.
Considering the amount of praise Cruz has received for his efforts, Garcia is of the mindset that the Mexican product could provide him with an ideal opportunity.
“A lot of people are high on this guy [Cruz] right now because he gave Tank a good fight. I just think it’s a good matchup for me to get back into the ring after such a long layoff.”
More than anything, a showdown against Cruz is appealing to Garcia on so many levels. For starters, following a disappointing 2021, a victory over Cruz would allow Garcia to regain some of the luster that was knocked off his once shining star.
More importantly, as the 23-year-old Garcia analyzes who he hopes is his next opponent, he’s unbelievably confident in what would happen if their two styles clashed in the ring.
“It’s not a guy who’s just an easy, gimme fight,” Garcia said of Cruz. “He’s gonna offer some challenges to me, but I know I’m gonna be able to capitalize on all my advantages and everything that he brings to the game. It’s perfect for me. I’ve seen that style a million times. There are a lot of people saying Cruz is going to beat me. We are looking forward to that fight.”
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