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Ryan Garcia wants to keep the focus on his return to the ring

Hopefully I don’t RYGRET the introduction for this interview, or lose anyone’s RYSPECT over it

Ryan Garcia entering the ring to fight Luke Campbell
Ryan Garcia entering the ring to fight Luke Campbell
Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images
John Hansen joined Bad Left Hook as a staff writer in 2021 and co-hosts the "Prophets of Goom" podcast.

If you’ve been watching DAZN at any point over the past month, you know about THE RYTURN. Ryan Garcia’s first fight after more than a year away from the ring comes on April 9th against Emmanuel Tagoe.

Oddsmakers and boxing fans don’t anticipate Garcia (21-0, 18 KO) will face much RYSISTANCE from Tagoe (32-1, 15 KO). But after a tough year with two cancelled fights and an extended break for mental health reasons, it’s a RYLIEF to see the 23 year old lightweight back in the ring against anyone.

Garcia spoke with Bad Left Hook about how the Tagoe fight is the first step towards RYASSERTING himself at the top of the lightweight division, and why he’s chosen to RYMAIN a fighter rather than move on to other opportunities outside of the ring.

Among the highlights of his RYMARKS? Garcia talks about his early days and professional RYUNION with new/old trainer Joe Goossen, where he thinks the RYSPONSIBILITY falls for the lack of top level matchups among the lightweight stars, and the status of a feature film RYTELLING of his life and career.

Our full conversation, with light edits to both questions and RYSPONSES for purposes of length and clarity, follows.

BAD LEFT HOOK: You’ve had a chance to do some acting. You have a media presence and a fan base that go well beyond boxing. Why are you still choosing to get punched in the face for a living?

RYAN GARCIA: I think it has a lot to do with the fact that it’s built in me. I’ve been doing this since I was seven years old and I’m pretty good at it. I can’t stop at this point. I know I have a lot left to give to the sport.

And I feel pretty safe in there. I don’t feel like I’m taking a beating all the time. Even in sparring, I don’t feel like I’m getting hit with a lot of shots. So, I think I’m healthy enough to continue to fight at a high level and give the fans amazing fights.

You’re working with Joe Goossen now, and he’s talked a little bit about working with you and trying to sign you back when you were just starting out. What were those early experiences with Joe like from your point of view?

It was a good relationship when we first started. Great one now. We have a lot of chemistry naturally together. We get along as people, as friends. As a trainer, he’s a perfect fit to me. The best way I can explain it is like a Cus D’Amato and a Mike Tyson.

That’s not to disrespect anybody, and I don’t want anybody to think I’m comparing him. I’m just saying that type of chemistry, that type of relationship, it feels like that. I’m happy to be with Joe, and I can’t wait moving forward to see how this goes.

Joe Goossen with Steve Harvey on “Celebrity Family Feud”
Joe Goossen with Steve Harvey on “Celebrity Family Feud”

Does the fact that Joe kept a good relationship even when you trained elsewhere help you decide to start training under him now?

One hundred percent. Yeah. That had a lot to do with it.

I think that in anything, you have to have a good relationship with the person you’re working with. That’s a pretty big thing that you should have. You don’t want to work with somebody you don’t get along with.

Goossen runs a tough gym, and he’s not afraid to speak hard truths to his fighters, even in the middle of a fight. How do you think his approach might help you out at this stage of your career?

Joe’s the type of trainer who knows the person he’s working with. He knows what gets them going, he knows certain words to select in the corner to get that fighter going.

With me, we have a relationship where he knows what I’ve got. It doesn’t take much for me to have the spark, as you’ve seen in most of my fights, to go in for the kill whenever I get a chance. We’re gonna have a good relationship, trust me. Especially in the ring. We already have a good way of speaking just from sparring. Expect good synergy as we continue.

Not to pry into your mental health, but does it help keep you grounded working with a guy who doesn’t play any games, and that’s so straightforward about where things stand?

Yeah. You don’t want somebody lying to you, that’s for sure. You want somebody that’s going to tell you the truth.

I’m always honest with myself, but it’s good to have other eyes there watching mistakes and bring them to my attention if I’m not aware. It’s gonna work out perfect. Because one thing I’m honest about is my skill set. Where I need to improve. And I don’t try to ignore anything I’m not good at. So we’re going to keep working and getting better in everything we do.

You’re in a division with a lot of talented fighters, but people are starting to get a little frustrated because they keep waiting for matchups that still aren’t happening. Where do you put the blame? Networks and promotions? The fighters themselves? Just bad timing?

I don’t quite know. It’s all the individual person, and their promotional companies that could be stopping some of these fights from happening. And some of them are not as big as they think they are. I think a lot of guys have a lot of pride and ego. Myself as well; as a fighter, you have to have a little bit of that.

From a business standpoint, that’s what most of these promoters are looking at. As a fighter, I don’t think any of them are scared, honestly. I think they just want to make the most money, and may not want to take that risk so early before they really get their name out there. Most of them may think they’re known, but they could walk down the street all day and nobody would know to say “hi” to them.

It’s much harder than they think it is. Even me, I have a long way to go, and I’m way ahead of them with the casual fan base. They may not want to take that risk. Say they fight me and they lose. They really will never get their name out there. So they’re waiting and waiting until they can build their own name up much better.

From a business standpoint, does it hurt matchmaking when one guy, whether it’s Lopez before or Kambosos now, has belts from every major sanctioning body? Does that slow thing down for guys trying to match a high profile fight?

Possibly. I don’t know. I feel like you could promote a big fight between me and, say, Tank Davis at 135 for no belts, and it would be bigger than a different one for all the belts. I think that’s just how some fights are.

I’m not saying the belts aren’t important. Just clarifying that some fights are bigger than the titles. Of course, I would love to get a title shot, too, at Kambosos. But I don’t think [the belt situation] is stopping big fights from happening. A fight between me and Teofimo would still be huge for no title. A fight with Lomachenko for no title would still be huge. There are fights out there for no titles that would still be big.

Last June, you announced that you were working with Gina Rodriguez on development of a movie inspired by your life story. What made you decide to collaborate with her in particular?

Definitely because of our Latin roots that we share. And it’s for the culture. A Mexican-American hasn’t really had a movie like this before. I think it’ll be good for our culture.

It was good teaming up with her. I think she’s a great person. She’s so sweet. And I like to work with people like that, who believe in me. I’m excited for the project. Hopefully, after this fight, we can try to get some work done. But, I don’t know. I have more fights this year.

Any news or updates on when that project might move forward?

At least a year. It’s really in no rush. The storyline and everything is great, so beautiful. We actually cried reading the script. It’s really beautifully written, and I just can’t wait to start it.

Given the other things you have going on outside of the ring, how often do you want to fight in an average year?

Two to three times. I think that’s my goal each year. Depending on if my year is busy or not, and who I’d fight against. I want to fight good fighters. I think that after Tagoe, we can start looking at big names.

I think that after a long layoff, this fight is perfect for both of us. He has a long layoff himself, it’s been about two years for him. We both are coming off a long layoff, and I think this matchup is perfect for right now. After that, moving forward, obviously the competition is going to get better and bigger.

Any last words or final thoughts to share about your fight on April 9th?

Keep your eyes glued to the screen.

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