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Ryan Garcia says Linares fight can’t happen right now, feels he has a target on his back

The 21-year-old prospect was hoping to fully break through in 2020, but right now is just trying to get a fight.

Scott Christ is the managing editor of Bad Left Hook and has been covering boxing for SB Nation since 2006.

21-year-old lightweight prospect Ryan Garcia was hoping to make 2020 “his year,” as he was set up to be active and take on at least one bigger name at some point.

The COVID-19 shutdown of boxing has delayed plans for Garcia and everyone and everything else, and right now Garcia says he’s just trying to get a fight.

He’s been busy on social media during the lockdown, keeping his name in headlines. Garcia has recently gotten into social media beefs with Jorge Linares, Abner Mares, and even UFC champion Henry Cejudo, which he sees as people simply wanting to all get a crack at him. Devin Haney (who didn’t come at it in a combative fashion) and Teofimo Lopez (who did) have also talked about Garcia recently.

“I think a lot of people want that spotlight, and a lot of people want to prove what they think about me, they think I’m not as good as people say,” he told Jess Rosales of Golden Boy. “I was just trying to get that fight made with Linares. Obviously, it didn’t happen because of the travel restrictions; I don’t know how it is in Japan right now, but that’s the word I got.

“I didn’t call out (Henry Cejudo). I actually thought he was pretty good. I said to myself, ‘Wow, he has pretty good hands,’ so I wrote a Tweet, like, how would that play out? It was just a question. Then he took it overboard and everyone hopped on me. I just have a target on my back.”

Garcia (20-0, 17 KO) and Linares (47-5, 29 KO) were being set up for a possible spring fight, as they shared the stage on Feb. 14 in Anaheim, both winning via early stoppage. But as Garcia noted, the 34-year-old Linares lives in Japan, and travel just makes that fight impossible right now.

He also feels that Linares has been disrespectful.

“He calls me a kid, but to me that’s childish,” he said. “You talk all this about how I’m a child, I’m a kid, to me that’s disrespectful. I find that real disrespectful. I know what he’s trying to do. He’s trying to play the part, he’s the older guy, but I’m a grown man. I have a baby. You don’t call me no kid, because I’m just trying to prove that I will beat you.

“It’s my time. There’s a time to pass the torch; he barely had the torch! He did a lot, but I’m just saying, pass that torch now, I’m trying to fight. It didn’t happen. They love to disrespect, but we’ll see what happens in the ring. But it’s not gonna happen (right now), he’s in Japan.”

Garcia, who expects to fight on July 4, understands that he’ll be fighting without fans for the time being, and admits he’s not sure how that will feel, but that he’s open for it, saying he “really wants to fight, really bad.”

“I really can’t say how I’ll react to it yet, but I know with fans, I often like to put on a show,” he said, acknowledging that he feeds on the energy of the crowd. “Once I hit somebody, I wanna continue to hit them until I get them out of there. So it’s gonna be maybe a little bit different, but I know that I’ll still have that killer instinct in me. But we’ll have to see, because I love the fans. They go hard for me. But we’ll have to see once I’m in there.”

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