A cautious Ryan Garcia awaits Carlos Morales tonight
In all likelihood, Golden Boy Promotions must’ve had Ryan Garcia in mind when it struck an unprecedented deal with Facebook over the summer to stream its live shows. Tonight in the second edition of “Golden Boy Fight Night,” on Facebook Watch (9:00 p.m. ET/ 6 p.m. PT), Garcia – boxing’s social media darling – will headline a card at the Fantasy Springs Casino in Indio, California, on a platform tailor-made for the following he’s managed to cultivate. Until recently, fighting in California’s high desert wouldn’t be far from his hometown of Victorville but aside from all the pomp and circumstance that comes with the popular junior lightweight prospect, moving out of his parent’s house for the first time is just one of the things that has gone under the radar ahead of tonight’s bout.
“It’s beautiful. I love the weather,” Garcia said about his new home of Costa Mesa, a city on the beach in Orange County, while not far from his hometown, a far cry from the lifestyle. “I love the people out there and not that people in Victorville suck; it’s still my hometown. It’s really helped me stay focused because there really is nothing out there but partying. But I never party, so therefore I was only boxing. It was a great thing I had to go through to get to where I’m at right now. It taught me hard work. It taught me how to stay focused and just ignore all the bullshit.”
Garcia, 20, was home schooled most of his life by his mother, which made it easy for his father to teach his son boxing in their garage. Perhaps that situation may’ve sped up the process of Garcia wanting to spread his wings and move out but this isn’t the only change happening before his fight tonight.
“Just felt like I needed to make an adjustment,” Garcia said about making Danny Luna his lead trainer. “Just little tweaks. I felt like he will help create different type of views and strategies that my Dad may’ve been missing. But my Dad is still right there literally. He’s co-trainer and really not much has changed but just little niches that I had to change.”
Luna declined to be interviewed during Monday’s media workout but has always been close to the Garcia camp.
“I’m not gonna lie; he was hella mad,” Garcia said about telling his father the news. “But at the end of the day, he knows that it’s best for me. He’s my Dad. He loves me and will still be there, no matter what.”
Henry Garcia’s voice has been instrumental in his son’s progress and success over the course of his amateur and pro career.
“My dad has always been there, so that voice is comforting in my deepest, darkest moments,” Garcia said before recalling his last fight in Mexico, when a few strange things happened: a last-second referee switch and a dubious point deduction after turning his opponent around. “I was panicking when they took a point away – it was only a four-round fight – and when I heard my Dad’s voice, he helped calm me down and refocus on beating (Cristian Jesus Cruz’s) ass. I put on a show.”
In Garcia’s most recent fight – a unanimous decision over Jayson Velez last May – Henry also had to calm Ryan down between rounds. It ended up being Garcia’s best win to date but headlining the ESPN card that night, Ryan’s growing pains weren’t fit for that type of stage, which may’ve been underwhelming to some. When asked if he was happy about the Velez victory, Garcia explained that there was more than just facing his toughest foe.
“Like I said to everybody, I honestly only trained for two weeks and I only sparred one time,” Garcia admitted about his preparation for the Velez fight. “I still went all 10 rounds. Here’s the thing: People don’t understand that I do have heart and that I do have all it takes to be a world champion but I’m so eager, that when they said I can fight at StubHub (Center) in the main event, I was like, ‘No problem. Let’s do it.’ But I learned that I have to take everything super-serious because you can’t underestimate anybody in that ring. Look, I couldn’t knock him out. I tried to knock him out early. I ended up hurting my hand and I wobbled him, yes, but my dad again was there to calm me down.
“I won almost every round but I felt so rusty. I was not coordinated. Ever since I was little, when I throw my punches, they have extreme accuracy, so honestly that’s just what I’m good at. I can be in any position and if I see a shot, I can let it go quick. It’s my mind. I can see shots but my technique was off and I didn’t feel my best, to be honest.”
Garcia, 15-0 (13), hurt his hand during the fight but it wasn’t serious enough for extensive time off. He’s already taken a step to prevent that from happening again by not using Adidas gloves and ending his relationship with the company completely.
“That is clearly over with,” Garcia said about his short-lived relationship with Adidas. “It wasn’t a good move. I’m being honest. MX (Everlast), I never hurt my hands with and I’ll be fighting in them again.”
Garcia faces Carlos Morales, 17-2-3 (6), tonight, a fellow Golden Boy stablemate who has good experience.
“I don’t hate the fact that he’s getting all the attention. The kid knows how to sell himself,” said Morales, a Mexican immigrant now residing in Los Angeles. “He’s a good fighter. He’s young and still has a lot of time to get experience and become a good fighter but, on September 1st, he has his biggest challenge, so we’ll see how he performs.”
Morales, 28, sees the huge opportunity in being an opponent for a polarizing prospect like Garcia. He’s coming off a technical decision win over Dardan Zenunaj but has yet to step into the ring in 2018, much of that having to do with the cut he sustained in the Zenunaj fight that ended things early.
“Like I said, he’s still young and makes a lot of mistakes,” Morales said about Garcia’s most recent fight, for which he was ringside. “He still needs a lot of work. It was his first fight going 10 rounds and this is his second, so we will see. Obviously this is a perfect time to fight him. He’s still young. He hasn’t gained a lot of experience, so this is the time to get him. To my career, it will be what I need. I need that push because I’m a quiet guy. For him, one loss at the beginning of his career is not going to affect him. He will still attract the same amount of people. He’s just a popular kid.”
Tonight’s 10-round contest will be fought at lightweight – a first for both Garcia (134.4) and Morales (134.2) – and whether or not Garcia remains at 135 pounds or returns to junior lightweight remains to be seen, likely depending on opportunity. Garcia wasn’t short on his analysis of Morales.
“What I see about him is he does have experience, as being the underdog,” said “Flash.” “He definitely has went more rounds than me but there’s no snap on those punches; let’s be honest. You watch his fights; there’s no snap. He’s not scary; he’s not someone I’m going to be scared of coming in – and I’ll come in with no problem. One thing I have to be careful with is to not let him outwork me, bottom line. What I have seen is that he gives up. He does not like confrontation, straight up, so if I put the pressure on him and go to his body, he could crack. If my hands are OK, I will stop him.
“Let’s see what he’s really got because I’m not going nowhere. I’m strong; I’m staying right in there. I’m coming after him full force. He’s gonna try to box me but he’s not because I see he’s too slow. He cannot react as fast. I do not care what he has planned,” Garcia added. “He’s been lifting a lot of weights. I’ve got people at his gym telling me what he’s doing. I’m everywhere. He doesn’t even know that. He’s been lifting a lot of weights and it’s going to make him slower and tired. He’s been talking a lot but he’s gonna eat his words September 1st.”
As for this training camp, Garcia says he did get the necessary sparring. Sparring has been a big subject regarding Garcia, over the summer, when WBA junior lightweight titleholder Gervonta Davis tried to get in a session with a newfound rival. The sparring session never happened, and never will, but that’s certainly a big fight down the road for both, should they continue to progress and maintain their records.
“This training camp has been going smooth,” said Garcia. “I sparred a lot. I’m happy with how I’m feeling right now. I feel even more energetic than the last time I was over here.”
The last time he came to Legendz Boxing Gym, in Norwalk, California, and spoke to UCNLive.com, Garcia had a large group accompany him, including a hulking security guard and a hyperactive nutritionist. This time neither were there and his entourage was considerably smaller. Perhaps with all things considered, it’s a sign that Garcia noticed he was being a little too extra in his early fame, which will only get bigger, should he mature and progress inside the ropes.