Opinion: Ryan Garcia has all the tools but needs to fight more than once a year

Lightweight attraction Ryan Garcia is expected to make his ring return this Spring with the American pencilled in for an April comeback against an as-yet-unnamed opponent.

The social media star has been out of action since winning the vacant WBC interim lightweight title with a brilliant seventh-round KO of Britain's Luke Campbell in January of 2021.

Having become the first man to stop Campbell, big things were expected of Garcia; however, the young American would instead take time out of the ring due to reported mental health issues.

Garcia, 23, was due to return to the sport in October, but an injury sustained to his right hand during training scuppered hopes of the talented prospect returning to boxing in 2021.

Following surgery to repair the injury, the unbeaten Garcia, 21-0, is now ready to make his return in the red hot lightweight division.

"The resume of my career starts April 2, it should be either in LA or Las Vegas, most likely Vegas,"

"I look forward to the announcement of the fight and my opponent."

Ryan Garcia celebrates Luke Campbell win with Canelo Alvarez

While Garcia has his sights set on the big names of the division like Gervonta "Tank" Davis and undisputed champion George Kambosos Jr, it is expected the Southern California native will likely take a tune-up fight before challenging one of the top dogs of the division later in the year.

More recently, it has been reported that Garcia could take on the once-beaten Isaac Cruz, however, Garcia claims that the Mexican has no interest in the fight with Cruz suffering his first loss in his most recent bout against the aforementioned Davis.

"[Isaac] Cruz didn't want to fight me, guys. That's the God's honest truth. I would've fought him in a heartbeat, no problem. But it's all good, bigger and better things, bigger and better things.

"We offered Cruz more money [than Gervonta Davis]. You can try to do everything you can, dude, but at a certain time, they don't want to fight. Can't force nobody to fight at the end of the day."

Veteran fighters like Mercito Gesta and Saul Rodriguez have also been mentioned as possible opponents for Garcia's comeback bout in April, although as yet, no names have been confirmed. Another name being touted is Emmanuel Tagoe.

Fighting for fame?

With just one fight in the past two years, Garcia has been criticised for a perceived lack of dedication to his craft with too much focus on his burgeoning social media presence. However, the 23-year-old has countered those suggestions.

"It's given me freedom. I don't have to be desperate for fights; I don't have to be desperate to the promoters or anybody, really, because I make enough money outside of the ring.

"Obviously, the cons are people not giving me any credit for what I do, but at the end of the day, I feel like, with all my amateur background and then now as a professional fighter, myself, I feel like I've done enough to prove to myself that I am one of the top fighters in the world. And I am going to prove that I am the best fighter in my weight class."

Ryan Garcia celebrates Luke Campbell win

Irrespective of his popularity outside of the ring, Garcia must now focus on his boxing career and the confident Californian has the WBA (Super), IBF, WBO, and The Ring lightweight champion firmly in his sights.

"I will KO George Kambosos, that's a promise. [In] April I will be 22-0. While everyone takes their shots, which is easy to do, the time is up. You had your chance to laugh. I'm coming for everything, and there's no stopping what's meant to happen."

Of course, talk is cheap. Well, it certainly used to be.

Today, point-scoring occurs online, not in the ring-reputations built with followers, not knockouts. Garcia may just have a point. Yet, if he wants to be remembered as a great fighter in the sport of boxing, his popularity must be built on victories inside the ring.

Now returning to a red-hot division, Garcia has plenty of options. However, at 23, and with just one bout in over two years, the Californian may need one or two more fights before he is ready for a shot at the likes of Davis, Kambosos Jr or, indeed, the brilliant Vasiliy Lomachenko.

Vasyl Lomachenko during a fight in 2017. Credit:  Amy Sanderson via ZUMA Wire

An undoubtedly talented and marketable fighter, Garcia, under the management of Golden Boy Promotions, should be moved along slowly.

Yet, given his undoubted popularity, it seems likely that we will soon see him mix it with the best in a division that is perhaps the most stacked in all of boxing.

At just 23 and working under the brilliant Eddy Reynoso, there is plenty of scope for improvement in Garcia's craft, and while he brings plenty of knockout power, it remains to be seen if the talented star has the toughness to rise to the top of a division so loaded with talent.

Fighting once per year simply won't cut it, and Garcia must become more active if he wants to fulfil his undoubted potential.

Hopefully, in 2022, the self-anointed "KingRy" will prove he is much more than a mere social media star.

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