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Slow the hype train, but root for Ryan Garcia to succeed

Ryan Garcia needs time to truly develop as a fighter, but his crossover appeal could be big for boxing.

Tom Hogan-Hoganphotos/Golden Boy

OK, maybe some folks should slow their roll, comparing Ryan Garcia to LeBron is a tad premature — more than a tad.

But I’m not calling for everyone to fully temper their excitement regarding Ryan “King Ry” Garcia, who got another W on Saturday night at Fantasy Springs, in Indio, Calif., on a Golden Boy card which streamed on DAZN.

Garcia, fighting for the second time under the watchful eye of tutor Eddy Reynoso, with mentor Canelo Alvarez looking on, took out Jose Lopez with a flurry in round two.

Some of those flurried tosses hit, some missed, but the power resonated and down went Lopez. He and his corner decided to not let the inevitable play out and the Puerto Rican stayed on his stool rather than come out for round three.

Garcia, who can buy beer on Aug. 8, has been on cloud nine with the birth of baby girl, Rylie, to a gal-pal. He said he’s now doing everything for her, and that includes stepping to 18-0 (15 KO) with the win over Lopez.

Promoter Golden Boy is but of course excited; the building at Fantasy Springs was sold out, around 4,000 people paid to get in. And the appeal of having a crossover athlete in our space — well, their giddiness is well-founded.

We the hardcore in the sphere sometimes forget what level of niche-ness we are at. 98% of citizens in the US cannot name two of the top 10 active boxers plying their trade. So, if there’s a kid who has a massive following on social media, where a Kardashian follower has a chance of stumbling on his profile and become a fan, giddiness is understandable.

Now, comparing him to LeBron is less understandable. This story has to play out and the chapters aren’t pre-written. Garcia turns 21 in August and we have to see what the fame and growing fortune will do to his head. He seems to be handling the boxing side well, showing wisdom and maturity in telling us that he’s been happy to learn from Reynoso and picking up tips for living from Canelo. It was interesting to hear him speak post-fight, next to Canelo and as Oscar De La Hoya looked on, showing a feisty side as he slung some words at the Mayweather Promotions squad.

More specifically, he was referring to Gervonta Davis (age 24; from Baltimore; 21-0 with 20 KOs; holds the WBA super feather title).

Garcia and Davis went back-and-forth on Twitter after Garcia got it done on DAZN.

Nice sparring, right?

They have a year-long feud going, with invitations previously having gone out to get it on in sparring. The decision was made to let it simmer, bubble to boil, and then charge money for the privilege.

One interesting lil’ side note, both men seem to be in a mode where they are thinking outside of their own heads, and appreciating being a father and provider and role model.

My strong guess would be that no, we don’t see Garcia fighting Gervonta by the end of this year, the time frame we heard was in play for Ryan to get to a title fight. Ideally, he’d like more time refining with Reynoso. His eagerness was on display in the final flurry against Lopez, and that sort of over-eagerness wouldn’t get past Davis. He’s still learning angles, foot placement, what punches to throw when, when to speed up, when to slow down.

We are here partially to be sober and temper some of that hype train advancement. Lopez was coming up from 130, and had been stopped out in his last fight against Jonathan Oquendo last October. He’s now lost three of his last four. So, the distance between him and a Gervonta is considerable.

But to end on a big-picture note, we fight fans would be wise, I think, to keep fingers crossed that Ryan continues to learn and grow and succeed. Ryan Garcia has 2.3 million followers on Instagram. To put that in perspective, Kim Kardashian has 133 million. But for boxing, Garcia’s numbers are eye popping. The sport wants and I dare say needs a kid like him, born blessed aesthetically, to succeed; if he succeeds the sport’s fan base gets larger. And it hasn’t been doing that for a long spell.

Long live King Ry, then.

Listen to Ryan Garcia on the Everlast “Talkbox” podcast.

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