In the first weekend of 2021, rising boxing star, Ryan Garcia (21-0) faced off against contender Luke Campbell (20-4). On paper, the bout was the hardest test of Garcia’s career and proved so when he was knocked down with a well placed cross in the second round. Despite the setback, Garcia went on to win five more rounds and went in for a body shot that ended the fight. As of now, Garcia is the WBC interim lightweight champion. The fight proved in a lot of fans eyes that Garcia can be a serious contender and not just a social media star.
Courtesy of Bad Left Hook
Last January, Garcia made another impressive first round knockout against Francisco Fonseca (27-3) using his signature counter left hook. Other attributes such as height, reach, quick hands and a constant presence on Instagram make the 22-year old Garcia one of the brightest lights in the boxing world. Commentators who call his fights make a constant reference to how Garcia’s rise is similar to Oscar De La Hoya’s career in that his looks attract a certain population of fans who may not have paid attention to boxing otherwise. Critics wondered if he was the real deal but he seemed to pass the test by finishing a fighter that was competitive against Vasiliy Lomachenko.
Now, in typical surprise fashion, the promoters of the sport have created a crazy match-up between Garcia and Manny “Pac-Man” Pacquiao. The poster placed on Garcia’s IG page has created a lot of buzz on the internet and further exemplifies the Garcia’s ability to use social media. Before the recent announcement, fans and boxing connoisseurs alike were wondering who’s next for “King” Ryan Garcia (still not sure why they call him king). Everyone in the fight community had their list of names that would make good possible candidates. Some are realistic and some can be considered pipe dreams…… but then again, his next opponent is actually Pac-Man.
Of course, I personally had my own list that I thought would possible make good match-ups in the near or far future according to the usual weight classes where Garcia tends to hang around. I reiterate that these are my OPINIONS…
Gervonta “Tank” Davis (24-0)
Courtesy of CBS Baltimore
We’ll start this list with the man that Garcia called out first. Tank Davis is Golden Gloves champion in 2012 and currently the WBA lightweight and super featherweight champion. All except one of his professional fights have ended in a knockout. His most recent fight against Leon Santa Cruz ended in the 6th round with a devastating uppercut. Both Davis and Garcia have stylistic differences that would make an interesting match. Both have power but Garcia’s speed would be put against Davis’s timing ferociousness. However, Eddie Hearn has voiced the promotional difficulties of making this fight.
Vasiliy Lomachenko (16-2)
It would be a long shot if it happened but I had to drop this name. Plus the world of boxing has surprised me before. Lomachenko formerly held the unified WBO, WBA and Ring Magazine lightweight title and was considered the pound-for-pound best by many boxing experts. He lost all three titles when he lost to Teofimo Lopez back in October 2020. Since the loss, the boxing community has been immensely curious about the Ukrainian’s next move. However, it’s not exactly an ideal match for Garcia with his flat-footed tendencies and Lomachenko’s footwork that he gained from his years in traditional Ukrainian dance.
Teofimo Lopez (16-0)
Devin “The Dream” Haney (25-0)
Courtesy of Sky Sports
For some, what would have been the most likely next match for Ryan Garcia is the WBC lightweight champ in Haney. Like “King Ryan,” Devin Haney turned pro as a teenager by competing in Mexico where they allow professional competitors below the age of 18. Haney’s most recent fight was in early November 2020 against Yuriokis Gamboa. Against Garcia, it would be a battle of fast hands. Since both Haney and Garcia have contracts with DAZN, it makes sense that a fight between the two can be organized.
Terrance “Bud” Crawford (37-0)
Courtesy of ESPN
Crawford is the type of fighter that can change the fight at any time with one punch. He’s seemingly gotten better at it within the past 5 years. The man with the most professional fights on this list currently holds the WBO welterweight title. Bud Crawford is also on the short lit for best pound-for-pound boxer in the world. His most recent fight came a week after Haney vs Gamboa. A fight between Crawford and Ryan Garcia would be match between who enforces their will first.
Naoya “The Monster” Inoue (20-0)
This entry may be unfamiliar to a lot of fans but this fighter certainly deserves his credit. When I was hearing about some of the better boxers in the current professionals, I was ecstatic to see that a Japanese boxer had made waves. I say this because a lot of MMA fighters out of Japan tend to lack in the punch placement category. However, “The Monster” Inoue is a well versed fighter with 17 wins by knockout. He’s also on a short list of boxers to become a three division champion in a short amount of time next to Vasyl Lomachenko. Granted, both fighters are in completely separate markets but a fight between the two could be a possibility if either fighter runs out of competition.
Shakur Stevenson (15-0)
I will admit that I wasn’t very familiar with this last entry until recently but I was pleasantly surprised to see someone who moves his hands like me. Of course, Stevenson has more power and efficiency than me but his level changes help him to be a boxer that’s versatile with his damage. Stevenson earned the silver medal at the Rio Olympics and held the WBO featherweight title. He recently won a unanimous decision against Toka Khan Clary. As far as skill and overall experience, Ryan Garcia would match up very well with this man.
As for the Garcia/Pacman match, it will continue to gain traction on social media and in social circles. To the date of this writing, the fight has the green light. As I expected, many fans are accusing Garcia of ducking Tank Davis. As much as I would’ve loved that fight, I would prefer a Devin Haney or someone who doesn’t get enough shine like Naoya Inoue. I personally find the official match-up odd, undeserved and genius at the same time.
A legend on his way out facing a rising star in which people still have their doubts about. Much like the Isreal Adesanya vs Anderson Silva fight. Either way, I can’t wait for the specific details that promoters love to take their sweet time with. The date, time, fight purses and even the broadcasting platform. I simply hope that it becomes a classic clash of the old school and the new school of boxing. ■