Ryan Garner: “To have the support of Frank Warren throughout everything has been amazing.”
By Oliver McManus
Prodigious talent Ryan Garner is back and, he says, feeling ‘better than ever.’ The 23 year old returned to the ring in April after a 14 month absence and already has his eyes set on bigger challenges.
Garner dusted off any cobwebs with a six round shut-out victory over Jordan Ellison on April 30th. He reflected on the performance candidly and admitted it wasn’t punch perfect but provided plenty of reason for optimism.
“The main positive was just getting back in there after so long out and getting my name back out there. It wasn’t my best performance and it did feel rusty but that was kind of half expected, to be honest, and I got the feel for it again. That’s the main thing: I did get rid of those cobwebs and I felt better as the rounds went on.”
The Southampton man was initially expecting to face Paul Holt (7-10) but his, Midlands-based, opponent withdrew around a week before the fight date. In stepped Ellison and he posed a test that prompted a lot of thinking from Garner.
“He was a fair bit heavier than me but it was either fight Jordan or wait god knows how long to get another date.
“I was getting caught with a lot more shots than I’d usually expect and that’s where the cut came from. I needed that, though, after my time out because it kept me on my toes and it did make me think instead of just being in cruise control. That’s going to be more beneficial than if I got in there after 14 months out and blew him out in a round: there’d be no point in that, I wouldn’t learn anything.”
Next up, Garner is looking at completing an eight rounder, in order to ‘get a base for the next steps’, with incremental progression rather than jumping in at the deep end. It’s a strategy that makes sense: patiently develop the fundamentals and reap the rewards in due course.
Many people will be familiar with Garner’s documented weight struggles which culminated in fainting on the scales twice: most recently in May 2019 on the undercard of Saunders vs Isufi. The ‘Piranha’ has spoken at length on that issue since and was keen not dwell too much but explained how it prompted him and his team to go ‘back to scratch’.
“Since then we’ve stepped up to super-featherweight and, really, changed everything. It made me mature a lot and, look, that could have been detrimental to my health but I’ve got no long term effects from that. Now I’m at super-feather I’m feeling much better: I’m so much healthier mentally and physically. Going into the Jordan Ellison fight I just felt so strong and energetic whereas before I’ve been on death’s door trying to make weight and just feeling so flat in myself.
“It’s mad to think I was making featherweight on the day for my debut and that just shows how much I’ve bulked out since that (making 128lbs) isn’t on the table anymore.”
At this point Ryan let out a quick sigh and, before I could ask how he had mentally dealt with that period, continued unprompted.
“I’ve been through it, ain’t I? It’s been a long road, very mentally challenging, with plenty of bumps along the way. I’ve got to look at it as positive learning, though, because it’s shown me I can dig deep in and out of the ring and that’s going to prepare me for those big fights.
“To have the support of Frank (Warren) throughout everything has been amazing. He’s stuck by me when he didn’t have to and I’m lucky enough to have him in my corner and guiding my career. Now he knows I’m back at it, he’s said he’s going to keep me busy and work towards big occasions.”
Pretty high up on the bucket list for Garner’s career is another fight in Southampton. Garner’s third and fourth contest took place in front of a home crowd and it’s an atmosphere he’s keen to get another taste of.
“It would be fantastic to fight in Southampton, again. Those two fights (against Antonio Horvatic and Johnson Tellez) were the best atmosphere I’ve experienced because the venues were quite small and absolutely packed with local fans. I’ve just got to keep winning, perhaps get a title, and try and convince Frank to put on a TV show down in Southampton because there are lots of fighters in the area coming through.”
Being part of Wayne Batten’s stable sees Garner rubbing shoulders with Mark & Jamie Chamberlain, as well as Josh and Levin Frankham, all of whom are signed to Frank Warren. That camaraderie, Garner says, made it easy to bounce off one another.
A recurring theme among those names is their youthfulness: all have time on their side and that’s something Ryan Garner is acutely aware of as he looked to the future.
“I am only 23 so I have got time to be patient and I think that’s important. There’s no point in rushing things for the sake of it: Frank and Wayne will move me on at the right time (because) they know what’s best for me. It’s not like I need to get my skates on and get to the top by a certain time: I know I’ve still got things to learn but I’ve never been happier. I’m enjoying training, I’m loving the support I’ve received and I can’t wait to put on a show for the fans.”