Give Ryan Garcia credit. The unbeaten lightweight is among a minuscule number of young stars opting to make quick turnarounds this year. The 23-year-old will face perennial title contender Javier Fortuna on Saturday at Crypto.com Arena in Los Angeles on DAZN.
The pair were slated to fight last July, but Garcia withdrew to address his mental health. He then signed up to fight Joseph ‘JoJo’ Diaz in November 2021 but was forced to pull out after he suffered a wrist injury that required surgery.
The Victorville, California native finally returned April 9 with a unanimous-decision win over Emmanuel Tagoe in San Antonio and is set for his second fight in three months. And if Golden Boy learned anything from the Vergil Ortiz Jr.-Michael McKinson saga about the side effects of inactivity, we should see Garcia a third time in 2022, around November or December, given he comes out victorious on Saturday.
Fortuna (37-3-1, 26 KOs), a Dominican Republic native based in Massachusetts, is a former secondary titleholder. He won the WBA “Regular” junior lightweight title in May 2015 with a unanimous decision over Bryan Vázquez in New York and made one defense before he suffered an 11th-round TKO to Jason Sosa in China. The 32-year-old blew his only opportunity at a world title in January 2018 when he came in overweight for a bout against then-world champion Robert Easter Jr., who defeated Fortuna in a split decision. Fortuna has gone 5-1 over his last six, with the one loss coming to Diaz last July in Los Angeles.
Garcia arguably looked at his best when he trained under the helm of Eddy Reynoso, who has coached Mexican superstar Canelo Alvarez for the entirety of his career. In five bouts, Garcia scored five knockouts. However, in February, Garcia abruptly announced his departure from the San Diego-based camp. “The reason I switched was because Eddy didn’t really have time to train me, and it just wasn’t working out anymore,” Garcia explained to ESPN’s Max Kellerman. “It was already two weeks in [to training camp], and I hadn’t seen [him], so I was like, ‘You know what? I just need to make a switch.’”
Months before the split, Alvarez questioned Garcia’s desire and discipline to the sport. “Look, Ryan has a lot of talent. But to me, in my eyes, he’s wasting a lot of time and wasting his talent,” Alvarez said back in November. “I look at him and don’t see him 100 percent dedicated, and, to us, that’s a bad signal.” As a result, Alvarez and Garcia have beefed since the fracture, while Reynoso has taken the high road.
“Facts speak,” he told Fight Hub while promoting Canelo-Golovkin III. “He’s had more than 30 fights, and he’s won. It’s because he’s in the gym,” he told Fight Hub. “But if people start to talk if he’s undisciplined or undisciplined… at the end of the day, he’s undefeated, won all of his fights, and that [answers the question] if he’s disciplined or not.”
In recent weeks, Garcia has stated that he will stop Fortuna early and move on to fight fellow unbeaten 135-pounder and former junior lightweight titlist Gervonta “Tank” Davis (27-0, 25 KOs). Let’s think about this. Could Garcia get to Fortuna early and stop him? I believe he can. If he gets the job done is another story. But there’s some bad blood between these two.
“Ryan looked good against Tagoe. Ryan doesn’t have any mental health issues. The same week he announced he had mental health issues; he was messing around with his girlfriend,” Fortuna stated at a recent media roundtable session, suggesting Garcia had other reasons not to fight him.
Garcia, though, fired back at Fortuna and urged him to keep the same energy when they meet on Saturday. “It’s just unfortunate that he came in with a young, hungry lion that’s ready to devour somebody, so it’s just very unfortunate for him,” Garcia told Fight Hype. “But, guess what, when I knock him out, wake him up, hopefully, I can take him to the club, and we can go have a good time. I’m so serious about that too.
“He’s talking a lot of trash to me, saying that I made an excuse with my mental health, that it wasn’t real, that I was a coward for it, and I’m a duck; I just want to avoid him. Well, I believe when he’s in that ring with me that he’ll find out real soon that ‘oh, there’s nothing scared about this guy.’”
Fortuna is coming into this fight very underrated. Yes, he has fallen short in every major opportunity to this point, but he still has a solid skill set. Fortuna doesn’t do anything great, but he isn’t the feeble opponent that others proclaim he is. He can fight going forward and backward and can counter effectively. During his amateur career, he went 196-16, which included a Pan American silver medal and a gold medal at the Dominican National Championships. Garcia tends to struggle against fighters with prominent amateur pedigrees. He got dropped early against Campbell but rebounded to score the knockout in the seventh round.
When Smith knocked out Fortuna, he was winning on all three judges’ scorecards before getting caught with a big left hook when both of his hands were down — a big mistake that cost him his belt and his undefeated record. So both of these guys are flawed in their own ways.
As we all know, Garcia has a significant edge in hand speed, and it’s his greatest weapon. He’s fast and has incredible reflexes, but where Garcia lacks is ring IQ, and he’s still missing all of the nuances that could make him elite. It’s the little things. He stands too tall; he overextends; he doesn’t work well enough behind the jab, and he doesn’t work angles properly. The most alarming thing—and it’s nothing new—is that Garcia closes his eyes when throwing combinations.
I can’t imagine how that would work against Tank Davis. Don’t get me wrong, I believe Ryan Garcia will win this fight, but I don’t see it being an easy ride. When we look at how Diaz and Easter beat Fortuna, they were able to get on the inside, be aggressive, and dictate the action. Garcia isn’t strong enough to cement that strategy. He will be the sniper, use that hand speed, and connect with some big left hooks. But it’s a dangerous play because Fortuna knows how to fight, and if Garcia doesn’t use a lot of feints, he could get clipped.
Ryan Garcia wins by unanimous decision (116-112). Fortuna could win five rounds, but I don’t think the judges will do him many favors. With that said, Garcia should stay far away from Tank
WHEN IS GARCIA VS. FORTUNA? DATE, START TIME
- Date: Saturday, July 16
- Time: 8 p.m. ET / 5 p.m PT / 1 a.m. BST
- Main event ringwalks (approx): 11 p.m. ET / 8 p.m. PT / 4 a.m. BST
These timings could change due to the length of the undercard bouts.
WHAT CHANNEL/STREAM IS RYAN GARCIA VS. JAVIER FORTUNA?
- DAZN (The card will stream live on DAZN in over 200 countries across the globe)
- PPV.com (Fans can order Garcia vs. Fortuna this Saturday, July 16, on PPV.COM for $34.99 and the purchase will include one free month of DAZN)
RYAN GARCIA VS. JAVIER FORTUNA FIGHT CARD
- Ryan Garcia vs. Javier Fortuna; lightweights
- Alexis Rocha vs. Luis Vernon; welterweights
- Lamont Roach Jr. vs. Angel Rodriguez; WBA junior lightweight eliminator
- Ricardo Sandoval vs. David Jimenez; WBA flyweight eliminator
- Oscar Collazo vs. Victorio Saludar; WBA minimumweight eliminator
- Diego De La Hoya vs. Enrique Bernache; featherweights
- Miguel Gaona vs. Jonathan Guzman; lightweights
Ryan Garcia VS. Javier Fortuna Betting Odd
Per BetMGM, Ryan Garcia is the favorite at -1200, and Javier Fortuna is the underdog at +700.
Ryan Garcia: Decision +240; KO/TKO +225
Javier Fortuna: Decision +1600; KO/TKO +2200
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