Ryan Garcia.

I’m back and forth on the guy. It doesn’t matter one bit whether I like him as a person or not. If I’m being honest, I’ve always found there to be a whiff of phoniness when it comes to his public persona. But, at 25, who wasn’t a bit of a phony, being something they thought they should be or needed to be? Now, imagine being a multimillionaire media personality at 25 with an image to be peddled to the masses. When it comes to anything he puts out there about himself, I don’t trust any of it as an indication of who he really is. 

That really shouldn’t matter, though. The (boxing) work should be all that matters.

And if that’s the metric by which we’re judging Ryan Garcia, then the kid is doing all right.

He was flattened, predictably, by Gervonta “Tank” Davis this past April. He reportedly made a lot concession to get that fight made, concessions that he probably shouldn’t have made at that point of his career. Now, mind you, the rehydration clause in the contract, specifically, was not an unfair request from Team Davis. Partisan BS aside, fighters should be fighting at a fair weight and if one is naturally larger than the other, then it’s only fair that there should be some sort of guarantee that ensures both fighters come into the ring at about the same weight. 

But Garcia should not have even been in a position to be negotiating a Tank Davis fight in the first place. He just wasn’t ready for it. 

The Tank Davis fight and everything immediately before and after it makes you wonder what, exactly, makes up Team Ryan Garcia. Is the team nothing more than a head-strong young celebrity being appeased by a family friend adviser, promoted by a Golden Boy who’s only interested in cashing checks off his celebrity?

But, for what it’s worth, I do believe Garcia’s intentions are good. I think he wants to make good, big, fan-friendly fights. I think he wants to deliver on the promises he makes to the public. I think his goal to be an elite-level superstar is legit. He’s just not getting anywhere at the moment.

Right now, the kid’s spinning his wheels because he’s apparently making his own plans on the fly and he’s just not ready to be making those plans. 

Yeah, he’s one fight removed from the 2023 blockbuster of the year with Tank Davis and he commands a hefty price whenever he fights. Because of his marketability and crossover appeal, he also has considerable leverage in any negotiations he enters.

But, in the ring, he’s not 100% ready. He has glaring holes in his game that pretty much ensure his run among the top will be fairly brief. Garcia is a fighter who could’ve/should’ve taken things slower, developed, and then made his move on the elite class. If done right, he could’ve been an Oscar De La Hoya-level star with at least a decade of blockbusters ahead of him. As things sit right now, he’s walking the line between windfall and downfall with each bout.

This is not to say that Garcia’s a bum or a hype job. He has legitimate elite-level talent and his rocket left hook remains one of the best single-shot weapons in the game. He’s already stopped a handful of solid low top-tier/high second-tier talent like Luke Campbell, Javier Fortuna, and in his most recent outing, Oscar Duarte. That makes him as “real” as any top prospect.

But Garcia, really, is just that right now– a top prospect. And top prospects need smart matchmaking. 

Tank Davis wasn’t a smart opponent choice. Devin Haney also wasn’t a smart opponent choice (although, shoot me for thinking that Ryan would do much better against Haney than many believe he would).

On the other hand, pairings with Rolando “Rolly” Romero and Isaac “Pitbull” Cruz represent good developmental, star-growing matchmaking for a still-developing “King Ry.” Romero makes sense because he has a world title belt and has more tactical/technical holes in his game than Garcia and Cruz because he’s all-around limited. Both could present difficulty for Garcia, but neither looks to be overtly dangerous in a career-killing sense. Yet, they’d still be good, fun– and big– fights.

Golden Boy founder and figurehead Oscar De La Hoya, though, has other thoughts when it comes to his young star. He’d like to put Garcia up against new Golden Boy signee and former 2-belt world junior welterweight champ Jose Ramirez, which, honestly, is not a particularly smart fight for Garcia if the goal is to keep developing while he keeps his star rising. Ramirez could get clipped by something big, but it’s more likely that he’d give Garcia a long, rough battle that– win, lose, or draw– wouldn’t make Garcia look particularly good. 

But the love-hate relationship Oscar seems to have with Ryan makes for some questionable decisions when it comes to Golden Boy’s guidance of the young fighter’s career. Sometimes, the goal seems to be getting Garcia beaten and humbled, cashing Ryan Garcia checks in the short term under the impression that Garcia will bolt from Golden Boy the first chance he gets. 

“@rolliess and @isaacpitbullcruz just priced themselves out of the @kingryan sweepstakes,” De La Hoya recently wrote via social media. “@jcramirez2012 is close to being done.”

“No Ramirez,” Garcia would fire back on Twitter/X shortly after. “Let’s make that clear.”

“Ryan Garcia vs Oscar De La Hoya at this point,” Garcia added. 

No matter what, though, Devin Haney seems out of the picture.

Did Garcia’s recent hang-out session with Floyd Mayweather in Vegas turn him away from a Haney bout he was gung-ho about making prior to that trip? Maybe. Good. That’s smart career management. For many reasons, Rolly Romero is a much better fight right now for Ryan. 

People need to learn that smart career management is not necessarily the enemy of good, quality, fan-friendly matchmaking. It’s about eschewing short-term crashings and burnings for long-term main stage sustainability. Boxing needs actual stars, not just shooting stars.

And if Ryan Garcia wants to make this boxing thing into a full career where he reaches his full potential in both marketability and development as a fighter, he needs to start getting smart about his boxing business. That means casting aside the naggings and social media disses from his promoter, the whispering in his ear from the hangers-on in his circle, and the tidal waves of fan chatter on social media. He needs to get some savvy boxing people around him who care more about the business of building Ryan than the drama of building AROUND Ryan.

If that means the occasional phone call to Floyd Mayweather, then so be it.

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