Ryan Garcia (22-0, 18 KOs) is looking for a win that will put him in position for a lightweight title shot when he takes on fellow contender Javier Fortuna (37-3-1, 26 KOs) on Saturday in Los Angeles.
Garcia, 23, is one of the most popular boxers in the sport with a huge social media following. He won an interim title bout last year against Luke Campbell, but he was unable to capitalize on the triumph. A broken wrist and time away from the sport to take care of his mental health kept him out of the ring for more than a year. He finally returned in April, defeating Emmanuel Tagoe by a wide unanimous decision.
Fortuna, 33, is a veteran southpaw who likes to throw punches and should provide a solid test for Garcia. He lost an entertaining interim title bout against JoJo Diaz last July but rebounded with a first-round knockout of Rafael Hernandez in February.
Garcia vs. Fortuna Fight Info
When: Saturday, July 16 at 8 p.m. ET (main card)
Where: Crypto.com Arena in Los Angeles
Live stream: DAZN (subscription required)
Odds: Garcia -1200 (bet $1,200 to win $100), Fortuna +650 (bet $100 to win $650)
Odds via DraftKings Sportsbook.
If Garcia can beat Fortuna on Saturday, he may well be in line for a world title challenge. While he's feuded with Devin Haney (WBC super, WBA, WBO and IBF world champion) since their amateur days, a tilt with WBC "regular" champion Gervonta "Tank" Davis could be the more likely bout.
Garcia's promoter, Oscar De La Hoya, says that's the fight he's aiming for if his young star takes care of business Saturday.
“Ryan Garcia wants Gervonta Davis,” De La Hoya said, per USA Today's Michael Rosenthal. “And as his promoter I’m going to get him what he wants, to make the fight happen. It’s not going to be easy. You know on the other side of the street is [PBC’s] Al Haymon, who always wants to break up fights, to keep fights amongst his stable only."
If Garcia and De La Hoya think Davis is the next best step, then Fortuna makes for great preparation. Like Davis, Fortuna is a southpaw who likes to be aggressive when he can and string together combinations. Fortuna's power isn't on Tank's level, but he does have a decent KO record with 26 stoppages in 41 career bouts.
Garcia has had problems on the defensive end in his career. In his fight against Campbell, also a southpaw, Garcia was knocked down in the second round and had trouble winning the footwork battle, as his lead foot was often on the inside of Campbell's, leaving him vulnerable to power punches. Garcia got the knockout eventually, but it was tougher than it had to be.
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RYAN GARCIA KO'S LUKE CAMPBELL 🤯<a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/GarciaCampbell?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#GarciaCampbell</a><br><br>(via <a href="https://twitter.com/DAZNBoxing?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@DAZNBoxing</a>)<a href="https://t.co/CU2IML4XZu">pic.twitter.com/CU2IML4XZu</a>
Perhaps with that performance in mind, Garcia has made defense a focal point of his work with coach Joe Goossen.
“We’re focusing on little details and techniques, and defensive things that I may not have cared about because I was so quick. Keeping my chin down. It just didn’t matter if I had my hand up or not, they were just going to get knocked out—similar to Roy Jones Jr.,” Garcia told BoxingScene.com's Manouk Akopyan.
As a volume puncher, Fortuna will likely be in position to capitalize on defensive lapses. Mistakes could help him make up for the speed, height and reach advantages that Garcia will carry into the ring. The Dominican also thinks he's in position to surprise the younger A-side, despite being a heavy underdog.
"Ryan is a good fighter, but we hope that this time around he doesn't have any excuses not to fight me. I see that he is very focused on another fight instead of focusing on the fight he has this Saturday. And we hope that after I beat him on Saturday he doesn't have any excuses," Fortuna said, per BoxingScene.com.
If Garcia is operating at his best, he should be able to handle Fortuna. He's naturally gifted and has the speed to dial up combinations or sneak in counter shots. Featherweight champion Mikaela Mayer analyzed the matchup for ESPN.com, and he believes that Garcia has what it takes to come away victorious:
"I see Garcia stopping Fortuna. The speed and the power that he has will be the difference. The power comes from that speed, the force and the speed. I just think that Fortuna isn't the smartest when it comes to attacks and he leaves himself open. Eventually, he's going to get caught with the left hook."
With both fighters vulnerable to the right attack, this matchup could be similar to Garcia's scrap against Campbell. The veteran will likely try to impose himself early on and pounce on an opening. In the end, Garcia should be able to get the victory, but Fortuna is going to make it tougher than some might expect.
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