What Next For Ryan Garcia?
By Joe Alexander
A night of bold statements that exemplified Ryan Garcia’s boxing career to date.
The first came during Garcia’s ring walk, in which he was carried on a throne whilst wearing a crown on his head. The next came inside the ring. The stoppage of Olympic Gold medalist Luke Campbell, coming from a feinted hook that looked to be going upstairs but landing perfectly to the mid-section.
Garcia certainly put on a show from start to finish, and unequivocally ticked boxes for him. Campbell was always going to be the gatekeeper-type fight to allow Garcia to become established at world level.
The winner showed true grit and heart after being dropped by a perfectly timed shot that landed clean early in the fight. After the knockdown and hearing the crowd’s reaction, you would have thought Garcia was the only one landing – far from it. Campbell picked his shots, and had success in his own right.
Garcia displayed his punch power when he wobbled Campbell at the end of the fifth, with the bell coming to Campbell’s rescue.
In the seventh, the final blow was struck. A perfectly timed hook to the body, right where Campbell had not protected. Unable to get up on the count, the fight was finished and a potential new star was born.
Ryan Garcia has been mooted as the next big Mexican-American boxing star. Victory over Campbell has only increased his stock. Now being thrust into the world level at lightweight, not just stardom and popularity have arrived – a plethora of opponents are now available for the rising star.
The first mouth-watering option, and the likeliest to happen is Devin Haney. The Garcia vs Campbell fight was the final eliminator to become the mandatory challenger for Devin Haney’s WBC strap.
As most are aware, a perfect record is only really a marketing angle – a way to create both fear and awe in a fighter. However, in reality, we know a loss is acceptable and often a great learning experience. This is even more pertinent with Haney and Garcia.
Both are 22, and with easily a decade left in the game losing their 0 should not dissuade either fighter. They would certainly not be out of the lightweight picture even with a loss.
Garcia will see Haney as the next step-up and the perfect time to fight him. A title on the line but still a very green and unproven Haney would catapult Garcia to new heights.
Haney was given two mandatory fights to complete, the Garcia fight and a long-coming mandatory fight against Javier Fortuna. If Haney wanted another fight before taking on Garcia, he may opt for the Fortuna fight. Therefore Garcia may need the fight to fill the gap before his shot against Haney.
It wouldn’t be the worst idea to give him another step up and another opportunity to get rounds and experience on the big stage under his belt – a name like Jorge Linares gives Garcia that in abundance.
A fantastic name, a former world champion and high-level operator. This would be a solid addition to Garcia’s record. With Linares on the back end of his career and not quite in his prime anymore. It would allow Garcia to test himself against another technical and experienced fighter.
Ultimately we can’t forget that Garcia has only had 21 fights. With all the potential in the world and time on his hands, another fight at the lower-world level would be beneficial. It would also give him a further opportunity to work more with Eddie Reynosa, a blossoming partnership.
After the fight Garcia also mentioned Gervonta Davis. Garcia felt he could give Davis problems. This would be a colossal fight with flavours of Floyd Mayweather vs De La Hoya about it.
Garcia did as expected, and almost as required by calling out one of the biggest names in the division in Davis. There is no doubt that Garcia answered a lot of questions against Campbell. With that being said Campbell, not known for his power, was able to drop Garcia. Although he got up and recovered, it demonstrated that Garcia can be caught and is understandably not quite the finished article just yet.
With Davis boasting more experience and a destructive 23 stoppages in 24 fights, it may be a little premature for Garcia. The power Davis showed against Leo Santa Cruz presents a serious threat to Garcia, giving credence to the view that Davis would be a lot to handle at this stage, maybe too much.
A final option available, albeit not next but perhaps in the next couple of years is Vasyl Lomanchenko. If Lomanchenko is given the rematch with Teofimo Lopez and comes up short for a second time, then Lomanchenko would be left without titles, a loss of invincibility compounded. Not to mention a blueprint as to how to beat Lomanchenko.
Similar to Linares in terms of the name, a win over Lomanchenko, perhaps not in his prime, would be an eye-catching addition to the record. This is by no means a fight that looks to be imminent. However, with Garcia on the rise and perhaps Lomanchenko slipping from his best, it could be an option for Garcia in the future.
A star in the making became the real deal in Ryan Garcia on Saturday night. Sellable, young and with a palatable style, he is now in the frame at the elite level of the lightweight division, arguably the toughest and most stacked weight class.
It is worth noting here that the main contenders in the division are in their early to mid-twenties. With the lightweight division having plenty to give in upcoming years, the future is bright for Ryan Garcia.