Following a break to address mental health issues, Ryan Garcia is back in training and closing in on an autumn return against the in-form Joseph Diaz. The confident Diaz is relishing the potential match-up and believes his pressure and bodywork will wear down the popular Garcia in the later rounds.
The Southern Californian duo are both promoted by Golden Boy Promotions and the proposed bout could land at the Staples Center, Los Angeles, according to Mike Coppinger of ESPN.com.
Garcia, who has a reach beyond boxing with 9 million Instagram followers, seemed to cement his status as one of the sport’s emerging stars with a stirring seventh-round KO of Luke Campbell in January, having risen from a second-round knockdown.
With lucrative clashes against Manny Pacquiao and Gervonta Davis floated, Garcia (21-0, 18 KOs) instead settled on a bout with Dominican contender Javier Fortuna before pulling out due to mental health concerns. Former IBF super-featherweight champion Diaz (32-1-1, 15 KOs) duly stepped in to outscore Fortuna in an impressive 135lbs debut in July, collecting Garcia’s old WBC Interim belt in the process. Now Diaz wants to take Garcia’s unbeaten record, too.
“I’m going to take him to a place he’s never been before, physically and mentally,” Diaz told ESPN’s Mike Coppinger. “Ryan Garcia, I feel like he’s a very talented fighter but he’s never been in the ring with the guys I’ve been in the ring with: some warriors trying to take your head off, not guys I’m going to put on a highlight reel. If this fight doesn’t get made, it’s not on my end – it’s on theirs.”
“He’s been fighting guys a lot smaller than him and I feel like with me, he’ll have the height advantage [5ft 10ins to 5ft 6ins], but as far as physical body strength, I might be even stronger. If not, we’ll both be the same. He’s going to feel my power in there.
“I think I’ll stop Ryan in the later rounds. My pressure and body shots will be too much for him. He’ll be feeling my shots and trying to hold and hug but I think my overwhelmingness will be one of the keys to victory.
“Whatever Ryan Garcia wants to bring to the table – if he thinks he wants to knock me out or does that pull hook that he does – it’s not going to work. Whatever he tries to do inside that ring, I’ll be ready.”
Main image: MTK Global/Golden Boy Promotions.