This Friday night streaming live on DAZN, Ryan Garcia and Jorge Linares return in separate lightweight bouts which may or may not be setting up a fight between the two of them next, as we know Golden Boy promoter Oscar De La Hoya would like to do that, though it seems Garcia’s team are not quite as keen on the idea at last update.
Either way, they’re both back, and you should definitely tell your significant others that Valentine’s dinner is going to have to be early, or even become Valentine’s lunch, because there’s very important boxing on! Does your partner even know how many social media followers Garcia has??? It’s a lot!
Our staffers make their picks.
Jorge Linares vs Carlos Morales
I like this matchup a bit more than most might, I suspect, as I’ve become something of a fan of the 30-year-old Morales over years of watching him on Golden Boy “B” shows from LA’s Belasco Theater and Indio’s Fantasy Springs. He’s not a serious contender, and he’s certainly not elite, but he’s a crafty, durable pro, and Linares is 34 and probably a bit of an old 34 at that.
Linares has been, at his best, a fantastic boxer-puncher in his career. But he’s also had several unexpected setbacks, losses to Juan Carlos Salgado (2009), Antonio DeMarco (2011), Sergio Thompson (2012), and Pablo Cesar Cano (2019). None of those guys were elite, either. The only loss on his record that you can truly understand from a talent standpoint is Vasiliy Lomachenko, and he did way better against Lomachenko than anyone has since Loma’s second pro fight with Orlando Salido.
Linares cuts easy and has been stopped three times within the first two rounds of a fight. He’s never lost a decision, because if he makes it the distance that generally means he’s had time to settle into his groove and box comfortably. I think this will go the distance and he’ll win, but he might drop a couple or three rounds in here. Morales doesn’t have a whole lot of power so it’s really hard to predict an upset here, but in all honesty, I’d be surprised but not utterly shocked if Morales were to catch Linares cold early. Jorge’s not getting any younger and his last decent win was two years ago if you’re willing to give Mercito Gesta that level of credit, 2017 if you don’t. Linares UD-12
As a big, big fan of Linares it’s been difficult for me to watch him go from putting on masterclass performances to getting summarily executed in almost any given fight. I still think as far as technique goes Linares has been one of the most beautiful boxers over the past decade. Unfortunately his ability to take shots is highly suspect and probably always gives his opponents a feeling of never being out of a fight. This fight here against Morales is meant to prop up a meeting between Linares and Ryan Garcia next, and unless Linares is completely past it I don’t think he should struggle too much with a fighter of Morales’ caliber.
I wouldn’t consider this a sure thing because Linares has taken a lot of accumulated punishment over the years, but I’m going to give him the benefit of the doubt at least for this fight. Linares UD-12
Patrick L. Stumberg
Linares’ fragility makes any fight he’s in a potential disaster, and the part of me that loves watching carefully crafted plans implode wants to see Morales scuttle the Garcia fight with an upset finish. Wishful thinking can only do so much, though. Linares far outstrips his man in boxing acumen, as in virtually every one of his matchups, and Morales doesn’t pack enough pop to crack that shaky chin.
One thing Morales does have going for him is durability; Garcia, Rene Alvarado, and Alberto Machado all failed to put him away, meaning he’ll have a full 12 rounds to open a cut or land a money shot. Unfortunately, he’d need a lot more than that. Linares comfortably outclasses him provided his face holds up. Linares UD-12
Linares back down at 135 will still be a handful for a majority of the division. It looks like he’s being lined up “King Ry” next, so a routine victory looking good against a seasoned contender looks just the ticket. Morales is rough and ready and will look to use Cano’s victory over the Venezuelan last year as the blueprint to success – walking Linares down, throwing big bombs hoping one will land, troubling the questionable whiskers of “El Nino de Oro”.
Morales has been cut often, dropped multiple times but never stopped. Linares has had one stoppage win since 2015 and may be reluctant to throw the kitchen sink at Morales. Linares UD-12
And the staff winner is...
Jorge Linares (4-0)!
Ryan Garcia vs Francisco Fonseca
Fonseca has had his opportunities to break through, and he’s really not a horrible fighter or anything. He’s certainly not great, either, but he’s not purely an empty and fluffy win-loss record. Gervonta Davis missed weight and knocked him out in eight in 2017, Tevin Farmer won a wide decision over him in 2018, and he had a real battle with Alex Dilmaghani a few months ago in London, which wound up a draw.
What I expect is that Garcia is simply too quick and explosive and will have his way here. Fonseca isn’t quite crafty enough to push Garcia the way, say, Carlos Morales did in 2018, and Garcia has also probably gotten better since then, particularly now training with the Reynosos and Canelo. Ryan will still have plenty to prove no matter what he does in this fight, but at 21 he’s a legitimately promising boxer beyond just being the Instagram guy. Garcia TKO-6
I have so many things I’d like to say about Ryan Garcia, but I’ll save them for a matchup of consequence. I’ll just say that I wasn’t one of those people who propped up Romero Duno as some litmus test proving Garcia to be the goods, and quite frankly I’m not sure where that narrative really came from. Garcia certainly has some talent, enough that I think he can get past Francisco Fonseca, but I’d really love to see him back up all that tough social media talk by taking the fights he often talks about but hasn’t yet scheduled.
As for Fonseca, I think we’ve already seen his ceiling and I think he’s good enough to put up a fight but not good enough to win. I’ll take Garcia by decision. Garcia UD-12
Patrick L. Stumberg
I’m not sure I’d go as far as to call this a mismatch, seeing as how Fonseca’s only losses came against world-class opposition and he gave Alex Dilmaghani everything he could handle last time out, but it’s not particularly compelling. These two share the same wheelhouse, namely close-quarters bruising, and Garcia just does it better; he’s the faster and heavier-handed of the two, meaning Fonseca’s unlikely to find success trading combinations the way he did against Dilmaghani.
While Garcia admittedly has some issues with pressure, which is what made his matchup with Romero Duno compelling before “Kingry” avoided the issue by just knocking him silly, Fonseca isn’t that sort of advance-at-all-costs juggernaut that could take him out of his comfort zone. Whether Garcia decides to oblige him in the phone booth or take him apart at range, expect him to batter his man into submission without much trouble. Garcia TKO-5
Fonseca left a lasting impression when he travelled over the pond last November. His all-action war with Dilmaghani for the IBO strap at 130 was judged a draw when the Nicaraguan looked to have the most success delivering impressive short hooks and body work to the Briton.
This sort of gameplan – sitting in the pocket and trading off – may prove his downfall against a guy with “Kingry’s” power. Golden Boy’s protege has looked comfortable on the front foot, but under the instruction of Eddy Reynoso may start a little more tentatively against an impatient, aggressive fighter like Fonseca. Fonseca will become frustrated quickly, allowing Garcia to pick his shots with the smaller underdog walking on to a fast left hook. Garcia KO-7