Joe Goossen Answers Whether Ryan Garcia vs Gervonta Davis Is a Superfight
We chuckled as I referred to him as “Doctor Denim.” Everyone in the boxing sphere knows him as OG trainer Joe Goossen, of the famed fighting family. He’s a Southern California fixture who has been there and done that on big stages, cornering top tier pugilists in ultra high-stakes prizefights since the 1970s. Working with Randy Shields, Michael Nunn, Gabe and Rafael Ruelas, Joel Casamayor, Diego Corrales (“You gotta effin get inside on him now!”), Chris Arreola, et al, Goossen has done it while showcasing some splendid threads.
On April 22, fate wiling, Joe Goossen's fashion sense will be seen on a massive stage; he will be in the corner for a much anticipated clash, featuring his “kid,” Ryan Garcia (23-0, 19 KOs), against the fighting pride of Baltimore, Gervonta Davis (28-0, 26 KOs).
They are to collide in Las Vegas, at T-Mobile, in a pay per view presentation put together by Premier Boxing Champions, Golden Boy Promotions and Showtime Boxing. It is seen in some circles as a “Superfight,” and that is one element I discussed with Goossen during a Sunday chat. After his grand kids scampered away, he alerted me via text, and we chopped it up.
First, I checked in, asked how he was doing as a person.
“Thank god, I’m still here, number one, still active, thank god the family dong well, I got a place to go to work every day,” said the tutor, who turns 70 in September. “It’s a surprise to me,” he added, with a laugh. “When I was gonna graduate high school in 1971 at 17, age 40 seemed like forever. Decades go by, I’m kinda surprised still around and kicking! Yeah, I thought 70 was some ancient creature.”
This creature is well equipped, then, to assess the Ryan Garcia vs Gervonta Davis 136 pound catchweight scrap from different angles. And before we dive into that question, whether this IS indeed a “Superfight,” I asked for an update on Ryan.
You might recall, Goossen and “King Ry” hooked up for a April 9, 2022 bout versus survivor type Emmanuel Tagoe (then 32-1) in Texas, with Garcia getting a UD10. It wasn’t a scintillating showing, but that wasn’t unexpected. Ryan had been off since he got a career-best win, vs. Luke Campbell on Jan. 2, 2021. Things got more complicated in his head after that. But it sure does seem like the kid—he turns 25 on August 8—got his head screwed on tight and right. Me and Goossen touched on that, Ryan’s growth arc mentally and physically. Physically, especially…Goossen very much liked Ryan’s display of ring acumen on July 16, 2022, their second bout together. Ryan handled tricky lefty Javier Fortuna (then 37-3-1), scoring a stoppage in round six. (Click here to read the David Phillips report on the win.)
“The difference between then, when we first got together, and now? The first one, he’d been out for an extended period of time, had surgery on his wrist, did a lot of rehabbing,” Goossen said. “He’d been out for awhile, so the fight served a purpose, gave him some rounds. He shook rust off, went into the Fortuna fight…and I thought that’s where Ryan really shined. Michael, boxing isn’t like riding a bike. If you are out an extended period you have to remember things. Take assessment of what you did, know what you did wrong, know what to improve upon. For Fortuna, Ryan was very focused, felt very comfortable.”
Ryan debuted as a pro in 2016 at 132 pounds, staying at 130-135 and thereabouts until 2021. He was 138 3/4 for Tagoe, 140 for Fortuna, and Joe Goossen adores how he’s looking as a “lightweight plus.”
“I thought it was a tremendous performance, very veteran like,” the trainer said. “He controlled distance, nullified Fortuna’s power, was accurate, patient. When he dropped Fortuna he didn’t go wild, try to hit a home run. Halfway through the fight it was over, he really manhandled him.”
Yes, we agreed, a leap in maturity, mental and physical, was displayed.
Goossen is now on a daily basis seeing ‘man power.' “You turn pro, at 18, 19, look real good, do great things, 21-22, still doing things, with a little more man power. Then 24-25, you’re a different man. He feels the difference in his power, today from two years ago. He’s matured as a person, in every way.”
We got into the fight from a style perspective: Does Joe Goossen like this clash of styles for his guy? Gervonta Davis has pop galore, and he’s a left hander, too. “Ryan is one of those rare guys who’s very comfortable against a left hander,” Goossen said. “Why? Because coming up in the amateurs with his brother Sean, now a pro, and a lefty. (NOTE: Father Henry Garcia has proven himself to be a quite competent trainer.) I had the Ruelas brothers (Gabe and Rafael), started them at 12, they sparred each other. So, Ryan, his first main sparring partner was a lefty. He grew up learning to dissect that very difficult lefty style. It was indoctrination. He’s a rare exception, a righty who actually enjoys fighting lefties.”
Goossen told me he’s brought in some “crack sparring,” quite talented lefties, to get Ryan acclimated to the stance, and he sounded over and above pleased with what he’s seen.
Is this one a 50-50 I his eyes, or no? “To put a percentage on it would be doing the question an injustice,” he said. “I look at this as how can we win the fight, what’s the best course for us to win the fight. My confidence level is very high. In sparring, three really solid southpaws, this kid is unbelievable, he’s the real deal. He’s a big guy in the ring, he’s got the reach, the height. He really looks like Oscar De La Hoya, who started at 130, always looked like a welterweight. Ryan’s like a welterweight in a 135 body.”
Ryan is listed at 5-10, while Davis is listed at 5-5 1/2, for the record.
I put it to Joe Goossen, how is he seeing this coming in? 50-50 fight?
“You top it off with that blazing hand speed of his, lightning quick, accurate when he throws, he usually lands. Ryan is big, athletic, accurate, fast, and powerful. I’ve trained a lot of greats, Ryan possesses some of the skills you only dream of in a fighter, such high quality, high end talent, both these guys. The unique thing about Ryan I’ve never seen before, I’ve never seen any boxer that hurts almost every guy he spars with, “ Goossen said. “When I say hurts, he hurts everybody. Nobody gets out (untouched). There’s been some spirited sparring sessions, almost worthy of a ticket! I don’t care how good the guy is, how experienced. That’s how powerful he is. It’s amazing the power he generates with a single punch, it’s unique and devastating. My confidence is sky high, Michael.”
Sky high, but he knows from historical patterns that you don’t know until you go. Until they step in, and it plays out, it’s all on paper.
“Gervonta, he’s in peak form, he’s a winner, his record speaks for itself,” Goossen told me. “He’s been in with really good competition, and he comes out on top. He’s moved up in weight, has been testing the waters at a higher weight, he’s performed well.” Indeed; Tank was 129 1/2 for Leo Santa Cruz (10-31-20, KO6 win), then 139 1/2 for Mario Barrios (6-26-21, TKO11 win). Tank scaled at 134 1/2 for Isaac Cruz on 12-5-21 (UD12 win); 133 3/4 in beating Rolly Romero (TKO6) on 5-28-22. In his last start, on Jan 7, 2023 versus Hector Luis Garcia, Tank weighed 134 the day before. He stopped a game Garcia in round nine of their tango.
“Tank Davis is at the top of his game, I also feel Ryan is at the top of his game, it’s two of the best 135 pounders meeting April 22, this is what makes it so exciting,” Goossen continued. “Some fans are in each camp, a lot of people say it’s a pick em, it’s all over the map, people taking sides. That what makes a great fight, unpredictability in outcome.”
OK, so what about it—is Ryan Garcia vs Gervonta Davis a “Superfight?” There’s been debate about that…
“I can assure you, you look at these two guys, Tank is at the top of his game, very marketable, fills arenas, Ryan same thing, also fills arenas. It’s attractive to fans in that respect,” the trainer told NYFIGHTS. “Now, what is a Superfight? I harken back to Sugar Ray Leonard v Tommy Hearns 1, people were all over the map who was gonna win. I think it’s deserving of that Superfight title because of the talent in the ring that night. It don’t get much better than Tank and Ryan!”
Superfight, then, yes? “You can call it that or not, it’s gonna end up a Superfight,” the trainer said. “Both will fight, neither is shy about mixing it up. It’ll do a lot of PPV buys, I think ticket sales will be sold whoever they put it. What makes a Superfight? Arena sold out, PPV big numbers, two top guys, that spells Superfight to me.”
Pretty much right there, I latched on to Goossen’s thinking. Yep, sometimes I get muddled, I do compare/contrast from “back in the day” fights. I end up lamenting some of the changes to the game, how it’s much, much more of a business than it used to be. “As an insider, I don’t PPV everything. If I were in the living room, I would PPV this fight, I would wanna see it like. This is one they don’t wanna miss! I appreciate this here and now, I’m kind of like that on a daily basis, not living in the past. Yes, this is two power punchers, both are knockout punchers.We’ll see end of day,” Joe Goossen said. “But I believe going in, it’s a Superfight I’d wanna see.”
Pretty safe bet we’re not going to the cards that night, yes?
“Some of the great, great fights of the past, both can give it and take it,” he said. “Corrales vs Castillo, both had big KO percentages. And each guy took (punishment). Then the dam broke, both ended up hurting each other severely. I believe these two will be hurting each other. Tenous, is the word. You want your guy to land big shots first. We’ll be looking to land out best, first, as he will be. April 22, it’s two talents in the ring, looking at them today, they would have fit in in any era. I’ve been at it since the 70s, I’ve seen a lot. I’m steadfast in my belief, Ryan vs Tank will be worthy of the title of Superfight.”
Sold! Debate quelled!
The OG stayed wise to the end of the call; he wouldn’t say whether he’s seeing Ryan vs Tank as the “biggest” one of his storied career in corners. “Won’t know til the fight is over,” Goossen said. “On paper, this is a big, big fight, one of the biggest I’ve been involved in. We can put the tags on it when it’s over. But knowing these guys, every fan who buys the pay per view will be quite happy. I have no doubt whatsoever this fight is gonna fulfill all expectations! I can’t think any other way knowing the two participants. It’s gonna be what people expect it to be, two top guys head to head. There will be fireworks, nobody who watches it will not be satisfied, I guarantee.”