DAZN’s Joe Markowski has told Boxing Social that “boxing comes second” compared to lightweight star Ryan Garcia’s current mission to safeguard his mental health.
The 22-year-old Garcia recently withdrew from a slated July showdown with Javier Fortuna citing mental health issues, and it’s a decision that Markowski – the global streaming giant’s EVP, Global Platform and Revenue Innovation – has backed.
“Boxing comes second to all that [Ryan is experiencing],” Markowski said, prior to jetting out to Dallas for the Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez-Billy Joe Saunders super-middleweight showdown.
“First and foremost, you have to keep yourself healthy. Ryan is a fantastic talent. He’s a gifted young man and a lovely young man as well. I’ve had the pleasure of getting to know him a bit over the last couple of years and, as he’s suffering, fair play to him for saying so. It’s very brave of him to do that when he’s in the public eye. It’s a brave thing to do even if you’re not in the public eye.
“We all know the sad statistics about how many young men struggle to talk about their mental health so for someone with Ryan’s fame and from his generation to come out and speak about it so openly and publicly I respect hugely.”
Garcia – who was ranked the 12th most marketable athlete in the world last year according to the influential SportsPro index – was last in action in January, when he climbed off the canvas to score an impressive seventh-round stoppage of Luke Campbell.
That thrilling contest was screened on DAZN, but Markowski emphasised that there will be no rush or pressure on Garcia to return until he is truly recovered and ready.
“I send my best wishes to him. He’s done the right thing and I wish him all the best on his road back to boxing. As and when he’s ready, we’re ready to work with him again, but we’re going to put no pressure on him. We want him to get better, get right and come back when he’s ready to do that. All the best from DAZN to Ryan and his family.”