By: Sean Crose
He’s one of the biggest stars in boxing and he’s well under 25 years old. He’s defeated most of his opponents by knockout, and he has a mouth to go with his power. He has yet to lose a single fight. And, although Ryan Garcia has still to win a major title, the young man appears to be well on his way to great things – provided he can defeat the skilled veteran Luke Campbell Saturday at Dallas’ American Airlines Center. There should be no mistake about it, Garcia epitomizes what it is to be a rising star in 2021. Good looking, brash and in possession of a unique ability to captivate attention, Garcia excites because he may well be that rare combination of skills and hype.
Yet the 22-year old’s rise hasn’t been effortless. One simply doesn’t rack up an amateur resume of 215 wins against 15 losses without putting in some serious effort…and one certainly doesn’t earn 15 National Gold Medal Championships on good will alone. Even Garcia’s professional career to date, a perfect 20-0, with 17 knockouts, hasn’t always been a smooth ride. After being trained by his father in the family garage, Garcia understood in 2018 that an upgrade would be needed now that he would be facing steeper and steeper competition. Therefore, both he and his father agreed to let Eddy Reynoso take the lead as head trainer.
Then there was the conflict Garcia had with Golden Boy Promotions, who he had signed with to great fanfare in 2016. As the calendar pushed towards a new decade, Garcia, whose popularity was, to put it mildly, on the rise, felt he deserved more than he indicated Golden Boy wanted to give. Things seemed to be falling apart between the lightweight and the promotional powerhouse in 2019 before the matter was finally settled to everyone’s satisfaction.
The moral of the story – that Garcia’s willingness to make adjustments and stand firm against the powers that be have nearly as much to do with his rise as his explosive ring performances do – can’t be overlooked. Nor can his natural appeal. For Garcia has millions of social media followers and has worked out deals with the likes of Abercrombie & Fitch. All it takes is a single punch, however, or a masterful fight plan to derail the entire Garcia express. The question this first weekend of 2021 is whether or not Campbell will be the one to run Garcia off the tracks.