Ryan Garcia needs a statement win more than ever
Chaos after Ryan Garcia’s heavy loss in April to Gervonta Davis sees him in desperate need of not only a win over Oscar Duarte, but an emphatic statement.
What a difference eight months can make. In life, it flies by. In boxing, it can be an eternity.
In the spring of 2023, Gervonta Davis and Ryan Garcia were verbally sparring over who was the future of boxing, the face of the sport. And the fans for both were as vociferous as their champions.
In the aftermath of that bout, however, Garcia finds himself in a bind. It wasn’t that he lost to Davis that was the issue. It was the way that he lost.
Some of the biggest names in the boxing world accused him of simply quitting. Timothy Bradley was especially scathing, saying that “If you can get up at (an) 11 (count), why can’t you get up at 9? If you can look up, you can get up, and he chose not to.”
Even Eddie Hearn, politician and master negotiator that he is, could not deny the facts staring the entire world in the face. “It’s difficult for someone who doesn’t fight to criticize a fighter for not getting up. But he didn’t get up... at the end of the day he did look the ref in the eyes and let him count to ten and then got up and walked to the corner.”
More recently, Garcia has said that he went into the Davis fight with a rib injury, and that was the reason for his decision to stay down. But in any event, that one moment has made his hill to climb immeasurably more steep.
On Saturday, Ryan Garcia will make his first appearance in the ring since that fateful night. He will face off with knockout artist Oscar Duarte in Houston for what could be the defining moment in both of their careers.
Duarte is 26-1-1 with 21 knockouts but has been dogged by accusations that his resumé is thin. Mostly facing tough Mexican journeymen, a win over Garcia would finally be a giant feather in Duarte’s cap.
Garcia, likewise, is in desperate need of a decisive win. Not only a victory, but a statement. His record is still impressive at 23-1, with 19 knockouts, and his scalps taken include some solid names in the sport. He has handed Romero Duno, Francisco Fonseca, and Luke Campbell handy losses. But the one thing that will be on everyone’s mind is that seventh round against Gervonta Davis.
Like Roberto Duran, you can make a legendary stand as Hands of Stone, but once you say No Más, then that is what your legacy becomes. After a painfully awkward press conference where Garcia accused his own team of backing his opponent, things are looking bleak at the moment for Ryan Garcia.
Golden Boy executive Bernard Hopkins made a statement about Garcia’s performance against Davis, saying, “Boxing will call your bluff. One thing about this sport, like no other sport, if you say who you are, or who you think you are, either way, it will call your bluff. And one thing about this, it won’t be a secret, it won’t be in the dark. It will be in the light.”
Just a day before the weigh in for the Duarte fight, Garcia hit back, saying, “One thing that’s been on my heart is the statement that Bernard made where he’ll decide if I’m gonna finish or if I’m should continue boxing after this fight. He don’t decide that. My coach does, my team does, everybody that grinds with me day in, day out. Ultimately God decides, not him.”
With relations strained inside his own camp, this Saturday’s fight will decide the future of two careers. Ryan Garcia was the face of boxing just a year ago. If he wants to make any claim to that status again, he needs to step up in a big way.