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Will Ryan Garcia vs Isaac Cruz happen? Both fighters say they want it next

Ryan Garcia and Isaac Cruz both say they want the fight. Will we get it?

Isaac Cruz says he’s ready to face Ryan Garcia next
Scott Christ is the managing editor of Bad Left Hook and has been covering boxing for SB Nation since 2006.

With Ryan Garcia and Isaac Cruz both returning recently with one-sided wins, the two lightweight contenders have made some comments about one another again recently.

Garcia (22-0, 18 KO), who came back after a 15-month layoff to beat Emmanuel Tagoe easily on April 9, had called out Cruz (23-2-1, 16 KO) last Friday, the day before the Mexican warrior mauled a hapless, ancient Yuriorkis Gamboa on the Spence-Ugas undercard:

Then, when Cruz didn’t use his in-ring time post-fight to call out Garcia, the 23-year-old Golden Boy star decided Cruz must not want the fight:

But Cruz says he wants the fight, to be clear.

“They said I needed to win this fight, I won this fight. Now Oscar De La Hoya, Ryan Garcia, come on down and negotiate with us,” Cruz said via interpreter at his post-fight press conference late Saturday night.

“Let’s make this fight happen. But not on social media. Let’s negotiate. Let’s not dance, let’s fight.”

There were some talks about doing Garcia vs Cruz earlier this year, including Garcia saying Cruz just didn’t want to fight him, and that they had offered Cruz more money than Isaac got to fight Gervonta Davis last December. Garcia’s promoter Oscar De La Hoya would say later that he believed Premier Boxing Champions just did not relay a significant offer to Cruz’s team.

Garcia has said he wants to be active, and fans will definitely want a more intriguing, action-promising matchup than they got with the Tagoe fight. Cruz can definitely be that guy, he likes to come forward, he likes to put heavy pressure on opponents. That could make him a target for Garcia’s power and speed, and Ryan would have notable physical advantages on paper; he’s a big lightweight at 5’10” with a 70-inch reach, while Cruz is just 5’4” with a 63-inch reach, though he’s thick and sturdy at the weight and probably wouldn’t be able to make anything below 135.

But however you think it would play out, I don’t think anyone would expect it to be a dull fight, and I don’t think anyone would argue with this getting made, if it can be made. PBC generally don’t work with fellow promoters, but it’s also not quite so impossible an idea as De La Hoya recently made it out to be.

With the four title belts in the division tied up in the June 4 fight between George Kambosos Jr and Devin Haney, plus Gervonta Davis fighting Rolando Romero on May 28, Garcia doesn’t have many big options if he wants to fight again in July or so.

Cruz would be about as good as it gets for Garcia’s next fight, certainly would be better-received than Maxi Hughes, for whom Eddie Hearn is rightly and understandably making a push.

A tough reality for Garcia is that Golden Boy just don’t have anyone in-house for him to fight, and a tough reality for Golden Boy is because of that, they might need to flat-out over-pay to secure someone like Cruz, whom PBC do value.

To help with that, it’s also possible you could do Garcia vs Cruz on DAZN pay-per-view. Fans won’t want to hear that — we’re being drowned in PPV since the last third of 2021 — but it may sell well enough to make everyone some good money, as Garcia is obviously popular with a fan base that goes outside of traditional boxing, and he also is pretty disliked by the more traditional boxing base. For getting people to buy PPV, being disliked by a lot of people is not a negative. Cruz presents the workmanlike sort of contrast to Garcia, and also is a Mexican fighter with a solid level of visibility and status, and Mexican-American fans have traditionally been leaned on by all promoters to boost PPV sales in this century.

It’s an attractive matchup in every way, one I think people would want to see. Garcia could instead sit out until late in the year, waiting for perhaps a bigger money fight with the Kambosos-Haney winner or Tank Davis, but there’s no guarantee he gets either of those, either. If he wants a fight this summer, Cruz really makes the most sense as the target.

They both say they want it. We’ll see if anyone gets it.

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