On July 16, Ryan Garcia (23-0, 19 KOs) dominated former WBA super-featherweight world champion, Javier Fortuna, dropping the Dominican three times en route to a sixth-round knockout, at the Crypto.com Arena, California.
Garcia is a polarising figure amongst fight fans: he is either the next big thing, or an Instagram model masquerading as boxer. On this showing, he appeared to be the former, rather than the latter. No one has defeated Fortuna as emphatically as ‘KingRy’ did.
Of course, there are caveats attached – this is boxing, there is always a caveat. At 33-years-of-age and 42 bouts, in a career spanning 13 years, it is safe to say that Fortuna’s best days are behind him. Also, the fight was scheduled at the super-lightweight limit of 140lbs by Fortuna’s team, as they believed their fighter would struggle to make 135lbs on five weeks’ notice.
Still, you can only beat what is in front of you, and Garcia certainly looked the part in doing so. It will take greater tests that this to assess just how high the 23-year-old’s ceiling is. Thankfully, if you believe the post-fight statements, it appears that Garcia is ready to take on the best in the world.
Here are five fighters Garcia could face next:
Gervonta Davis (27-0, 25 KOs)
Let’s start with the big one. This pair have been calling each other out on social media for a couple of years now, and ‘Tank’ was the first fighter named by Garcia in the immediate aftermath of his victory.
However, the bout is not straight forward to make. Davis fights under the Premier Boxing Champions banner and has a broadcast deal with Showtime, while Garcia is promoted by Golden Boy Promotions and boxes on DAZN.
Such issues have not been insurmountable in similar situations in the past, when each boxer’s broadcaster would offer the fight on pay-per-view. That has always happened between rival television stations, it remains to be seen whether such an agreement could be reached with a streaming platform like DAZN.
Oh, and if matters were not complicated enough, Garcia stated his intentions to stay at super-lightweight, proclaiming:
“I’m not going back down to 135(lbs) for nothing, but I will fight ‘Tank’ next. If Tank wants that at 140(lbs)… Hey, I’m gonna record all the negotiations so you guys don’t make no headlines that I’m ducking. If he wants it, let’s get it.”
Davis has competed at super-lightweight in the past, halting Mario Barrios in the 11th round to claim the WBA “Regular” belt, last year. This one is unlikely to be next, but money talks, and there would be an awful lot generated by a bout between two of the most exciting young fighters in the world.
Teofimo Lopez (16-1, 12 KOs)
Another member of lightweight ‘Four Kings’ which everyone was very excited about last year, you know, the four that have not fought each other. Garcia appears determined to change that, or at least, wants to be seen to be attempting to bring the bouts to fruition.
‘KingRy’ claimed in the post-fight press conference that if the Davis bout does not happen next, he wants Lopez, stating:
“If that fight for some reason doesn’t happen, which I don’t see that happening, but if it doesn’t happen, then I want to fight Teofimo Lopez at 140(lbs).”
Some reason the ‘Tank’ fight doesn’t happen? I can give you 10 reasons, Ryan. Anyway, let’s focus on the Lopez bout. A clash between Garcia and Lopez has similar obstacles to overcome as the Davis fight, just replace PBC with Top Rank, and Showtime with ESPN.
Former disputed undisputed lightweight champion, Lopez, is due to return to the ring for the first time since his shock defeat to George Kambosos last year, when he faces Pedro Campa, at welterweight, next month.
It remains to be seen if Lopez intends to eventually drop down to 140lbs. Garcia is either an optimist who believes that promoters, broadcasters and weight classes should not be prohibitive to the best fighting each other, or someone who wants credit for demanding the bouts fans want to see, knowing there is little to no chance of them happening.
I’ll let you make your own mind up on that one.
Jorge Linares (47-7, 29 KOs)
Now, this feels a little more realistic.
Three-weight world champion, Linares, is past his prime at 36-years-old, but is still dangerous; as he demonstrated with his display in defeat to Devin Haney, last year.
For all his offensive prowess, Linares is defensively vulnerable and it is that fragility, combined with the Venezuelan’s accomplishments which could make him an attractive option to Garcia’s team. If ‘KingRy’ genuinely intends to remain at 140lbs, that would not be an insurmountable barrier to finalising a bout with Linares.
The former champion has competed at super-lightweight before, albeit with a disastrous outcome, as he was halted in the opening round by Pablo Cesar Cano.
Linares was previously promoted by Golden Boy Promotions, which should make any potential deal easier to make. Promoters love to use results against common opponents to reinforce their claim that “Fighter A” is better than “Fighter B”.
Linares could help further that narrative having given Haney the toughest fight of his career to date.
If Garcia decides to drop back down to 135lbs, beating Linares more convincingly than the man currently in possession of all the lightweight titles would help to generate more hype.
Joseph Diaz (32-2-1, 15 KOs)
Prior to Garcia’s declaration of his intent to remain at 140lbs, London 2012 Olympian Diaz was mostly likely the next opponent for ‘KingRy,’ and he may still be.
At this stage, it is hard to say whether Garcia’s claims are true or not. Golden Boy Promotions have more options available for the rising star at lightweight than they do at super-lightweight. Perhaps, Garcia has entered the stage of his career where he can make up his own weight classes as Canelo Alvarez did at various points.
Regardless of whether it is at 135lbs, five pounds north, or something in between, Diaz would be another solid test to help progress Garcia’s career.
Diaz has previously held titles at featherweight and super-featherweight, has never been stopped and holds wins over Javier Fortuna, Tevin Farmer and Rene Alvarado. Diaz also gave a good account of himself when he challenged Devin Haney for the WBC lightweight title, last December.
The American would serve a similar purpose to Linares, but at 29, has fewer miles on the clock. Both men are signed to Golden Boy Promotions, so the bout could be easily made.
Maxi Hughes (25-5-2, 5 KOs)
The current IBO lightweight champion would not be a popular choice, but one which could have its uses.
If Garcia drops back to lightweight, his route to a world title would not be a straight forward one, as all four major sanctioning body belts are held by Devin Haney, who is promoted by Top Rank. As previously outlined, promotional and television deals are often major roadblocks.
However, Haney has previously spoken of his desire to add the IBO strap to his collection. Would ‘The Dream’ be as keen if the title was in the possession of Garcia? Hughes and his manager, Andrew ‘Stefy’ Bull, have publicly called for the fight.
Hughes would be a massive underdog, but that has been the case for large parts of his career – it is a role which he relishes. Hughes is contracted to Matchroom, who’s stable also fight on DAZN. There are fewer obstacles preventing this one.