Ryan Garcia takes on experienced Dominican Javier Fortuna this Saturday in a Los Angeles lightweight battle. Will it prove a routine assignment for ‘KingRy’ or could he come unstuck? Luke G. Williams previews the action.
The day is edging closer when we will discover – finally – whether lightweight Ryan Garcia (22-0, 18 KOs) is the real deal, or merely a photogenic wannabe full of hot air and hype.
The 23-year-old Californian of Mexican extraction is – without doubt – one of the most bankable stars in boxing, but it is a status he has reached despite a wafer-thin professional resume.
The best win of Garcia’s career remains his thrilling seventh-round TKO of Olympic gold medal winner Luke Campbell back in January 2021, since when out of the ring issues – principally a well-publicised mental health battle, have restricted him to just one appearance, a dominant but somewhat unconvincing points victory against Emmanuel Tagoe in April of this year.
Few believe that Javier Fortuna (37-3-1, 26 KOs) will be the man to derail the ‘KingRy’ hype train this Saturday night at the Crypto Arena in Los Angeles, but stranger things have happened, and there is certainly a sense that Garcia is underestimating the tough and experienced Dominican southpaw.
Garcia declared this week:
“It doesn’t matter if [I am] not 100 per cent.”
“We are at the point where that doesn’t even matter. I am at the point that it wouldn’t matter if I am at 65 per cent, I am destroying Fortuna. He cannot beat me. I am levels above him.”
Truth be told, it is actually Fortuna who has fought the better level of opposition, having squared off against world level operators such as Robert Easter Jr, Adrian Granados and Joseph Diaz, and accumulated 214 rounds of professional experience compared to Garcia’s 79.
A former WBA interim featherweight and ‘regular’ super-featherweight champion, Fortuna believes that his greater experience will hold the key to securing an upset victory.
“Ryan’s speed doesn’t faze me.”
“I know how to take that away from him, I have the experience to do it.”
In the lead-up to this fight Garcia has demonstrated his usual flair for expansive pronouncements, referring to himself as a “great fighter” and declaring:
“When I’m in there, I’m just gonna pick him apart. There’s so many ways I could destroy him, so it’s really whatever unfolds in front of me.”
Ryan Garcia vs Gervonta ‘Tank’ Davis?
It is never a good idea, of course, for a fighter to look past their current assignment, but Garcia has certainly been guilty of doing this, by seemingly spending more time discussing a potential future fight against Gervonta Davis than his pending assignment against Fortuna,.
“I think it’s quite obvious where we are headed once we pass Fortuna.”
“I am going to campaign for the fight against Gervonta Davis. And I’m all about the truth.”
“I’m hungry to show the world that I’m the best fighter in the division. I feel like he’s the best fighter other than myself in the division, and with speed, power and accuracy and IQ, I think he’s up there. But I’m just that much better and I’m gonna separate myself from him and I’m gonna make it look very easy when I’m in the ring with him.”
For all his talents, specifically his lightning hand speed and impressive power, the defensively suspect Garcia looks to me like an upset waiting to happen.
Fortuna is a well seasoned fighter with a decent punch, but he probably doesn’t quite have the cutting edge required to spring the upset. He also possibly lacks the discipline to do so, having displayed a worrying tendency to miss weight in the past.
Furthermore, in his biggest tests – against Easter and Diaz – Fortuna has come up short (although, to be fair to him, plenty of observers at ringside felt he edged Easter).
My official pick is therefore for Garcia to win via a mid to late rounds stoppage after looking rusty and over eager at times early on.
However, sooner or later, I’m convinced that ‘KingRy’ is going to come unstuck, and if he unravelled this weekend it would – in many respects – be far from the biggest upset of the year.