With bated breath, Ryan Garcia awaits his time to shine
Ryan “KingRy” Garcia was still out of breath while speaking with UCNLive.com on Tuesday afternoon.
At the Aztec Gym in Bell, California, Garcia had just finished an extensive workout for the media in preparation for his fight on Friday night at the Belasco Theater in Los Angeles. Most fighters go through the motions for this media obligation, amid their fight week, but this 18-year-old lightweight prospect chose to perform every workout imaginable and, at the time, he still didn’t know whom he was fighting.
“Right now, I’m so focused and so hungry, that I’m willing to fight whoever. Put him in front of me and let’s get to it. Let’s rumble,” said Garcia just before taking a big swig of Gatorade.
The opponent, Devon Jones, 2-1 (1), has since been named but that doesn’t really matter. Garcia is making his first appearance on Golden Boy Promotions’ “L.A. Fight Club” series, and the fight will open an Estrella TV (10:00 p.m. ET/7 p.m. PT) telecast.
“Yeah. So I can get more opportunities just like this,” said Garcia when asked if there’s a responsibility to entertain when fighting on TV. “If I have a bad performance, why would they put me on TV again? I wouldn’t want to put myself on TV again. This is what I’m made of. This is what makes a champion. This great opportunity. I’m gonna take it by the horns and I’m gonna prove to everybody why I’m a TV fighter.”
Garcia, 7-0 (6), recently signed with Golden Boy Promotions and this Friday’s fight will be his second bout under their banner. “The day was a dream come true because that was the start of my path to becoming the legend like I want to become,” said Garcia about a memorable day last November. “I want to become pound-for-pound champion. When (Founder and CEO) Oscar (De La Hoya) surprised me – and gave me a contract with Golden Boy – that was just the start of it. It’s a dream come true though.”
In his debut with the company, Garcia fought on the undercard of Joe Smith Jr.-Bernard Hopkins last December at The Forum in Inglewood, California. He didn’t have to but Garcia even showed up to the final press conference of the event in a snazzy tuxedo, perhaps to give the people and the media a glimpse of what he’s all about. All this coming from a kid fighting in a six-rounder on the card and just six months removed from his pro debut.
“I’m just different,” said Garcia when asked about that day. “I don’t know how many people you’ve interviewed but I’m just a different fighter and a different human being. I’m weird; I’m a dork but I don’t care because, at the end of the day, I can fight. I’m goofy but watch me in the ring. I’m serious. I’m ready to kill. Plan A is always the right plan. There’s no Plan B. Plan A is always the right plan.”
When talking with Garcia, there’s an innate sense of exceptionalism that glares from his disposition.
“Ever since I was young, seven, eight, nine years old, people have been telling me that they see something in me,” Garcia said. “As I got older, I started getting this feeling that I could really do this if I stay focused, stay humble and keep training hard. That’s the path I’m on. I’m so focused right now; I’m just trying to get to where everybody’s telling me I can’t get to. And that’s greatness.”
At around 14 years old, this ingrained sense of self-assurance really started to take over his psyche. “It was around my fourth national title in the Silver Gloves,” remembered Garcia. “I didn’t know who the good fighters were when I was young but then, when you grow up, you know who’s good. My fourth nationals, I fought everybody that was good and I won. So, at that moment, I was like, ‘What the heck?’ I’m really the best in the nation. I beat everybody in the United States, so why can’t I be world champion? I’ve seen world champions and I know I could do this, ever since then.”
Garcia isn’t afraid to admit he’s anxious about his career.
“I’ve been fighting since I was seven years old, non-stop, going everywhere. We had over 225 fights. We fought everybody and we beat everybody. I need this right now. I’m not trying to rush it but I’m trying to show everybody I could be on the top of this sport one day. I’m 18 years old and, by the time I’m 20 or 21, you guys will see. I’ll get my man strength and I’ll be on top with everybody.”
Recently, Garcia has had the opportunity to spar a couple of the best fighters in the world and those experiences have, of course, helped his self-assuredness.
“I sparred the likes of (WBO junior lightweight titlist Vasyl) Lomachenko and I know I’m right there with him. We did six rounds. He told me, after the sparring match, ‘Finally they gave me good sparring,’ ’cause I gave him good work for the (Nicholas) Walters fight.” Garcia then added that he sparred Jorge Linares in preparation for the Venezuelan’s world lightweight title bout with Anthony Crolla last summer. “When I sparred Linares, he goes back and tells Golden Boy, ‘You need to sign this kid,’ because I’m right there with him.”
According to Garcia, that sparring session with Linares was a huge influence on Golden Boy offering him a contract.
“Yeah, I think that’s what pushed it even more ’cause he called (GBP matchmaker) Robert Diaz and said, ‘You need to sign him, like right now – today. Don’t miss out on the opportunity,’ because he’s seen how smart I was,” said Garcia. “I have a lot of experience but you know what they have on me? That age. They have the age and 12-round fights. That’s what they’ve got on me but they know I’m right there. That’s why I’m eager because I’ve been in there with the best. I’ve sparred even (former IBF/WBA featherweight titlist Yuriorkis) Gamboa and I did great work with him.”
When he’s not sparring former and present world champions, Garcia currently trains in the garage of his parent’s house. Victorville, California, is a place seemingly everyone from the greater Los Angeles area has passed through, when making the drive to Las Vegas but they’ve never been compelled to stop there. Garcia even laughed when asked what it was like growing up in the High Desert.
“It’s really nothing; I mean…but I love my city. I love everybody out there. Everybody from Victorville knows there ain’t nothing to do in Victorville. If you box, you box. If you play soccer, you play soccer. I love my city though. They support me and they’ve been putting me in the newspaper since I was seven years old.”
“It helps my focus tremendously,” Garcia said about the tranquil setting of Victorville. “I don’t have all the distractions of people telling me if I want to go out or if I want to do this…I literally stay home. This is what I do: I wake up in the morning; I go run. Train at 10, end at one. Go to strength-and-conditioning at four or five, get home at eight and go to bed. Then I do the same thing everyday. I’m so focused and I know that I’m not gonna get burnt out because I know my limit. And when I reach my limit, I chill and relax, then I get right back to it.”
Lingering in the back of his mind, however, is an inevitable move out of his hometown. “Yeah. I mean, I want to make a move. L.A. is where it’s at,” admitted Garcia. “Everybody wants to go to LA but we’re gonna see. Maybe I can stay in Victorville because I love my city. I’m comfortable there but if I have to make a move, I’m gonna make a move.”
Despite the itching to prove himself, Garcia does claim to be patient. “I’m a patient guy,” Garcia said, “but I know if I can get it, I’m gonna go get it. If I know for sure in my heart that I can go get it, I’m gonna go get it.”
However, when proposed with a scenario in which Golden Boy elected to speed up his career process, Garcia responded:
“I’d be for it man. I’ve seen a lot of pro fighters and I’ve watched them growing up. The fighters that they say are good are mediocre compared to the people in the amateurs. In the amateurs, you fight every top fighters, every national champion, so every fighter is good. In the pro ranks, everybody says, ‘Oh, this fighter is good,’ but if you know boxing and you’ve been around it for a long time, then you know he’s really not that good. So, I’m ready to go and ready to prove what I say is true. If they were for it, then I’m for it too.”
It didn’t take long for Garcia to catch his breath at the beginning of the 15-minute sit-down but after speaking with the young prospect and learning his interior motives, it was merely a correlation to his bated breath within.