Chris Algieri's School of Thought: Duarte and James are what complicated Garcia needs

Oscar Duarte Jurado looks tailor-made for Ryan Garcia, which after a high-profile defeat is exactly what he needs.

Duarte has a good record, and looks like an athlete and therefore a good test, but while he’s physically strong and durable, he’s got slow feet and hands, an ineffective jab, and doesn’t effectively work his way inside. He punches well with both hands, but Garcia’s height, speed and left hook – the punch Duarte’s open to – makes Duarte look a suitable opponent for Garcia to impress against.

After that defeat, by Gervonta “Tank” Davis, Garcia split with his then-trainer Joe Goossen. It doesn’t sound as though their preparations for that fight went particularly well, but I wasn’t convinced that they would work well together when they first teamed up, for his fight with Emmanuel Tagoe. In more recent years Goossen’s appeared a less hands-on trainer, because he’s typically been working with established fighters who already had their own routines – which is something Garcia has actually lacked. There’s even been times Garcia’s seemed more interested in making a video of himself training for social media than be in a gym with someone trying to correct his flaws – which would have contributed to his performance against Davis.

Goossen said “You don’t necessarily train Ryan Garcia, you have to collaborate with him”, which, in combination with Garcia’s performance against Davis and the fact that Goossen didn’t join him at his post-fight press conference, meant their separation came as little surprise. What would surprise me is if, as Garcia has suggested, Goossen is responsible for what he described as “leaks” in their training camp. Goossen’s been around boxing for a very long time, and will know as well as anyone how small boxing circles are and how few secrets are kept. Anyone guilty of leaking information would get a reputation that would make it difficult for them to continue to work; it also doesn’t make any sense for any trainer to leak information from their camp. Goossen, particularly, has never come across as looking to make a short-term buck.

Chris Algieri's School of Thought: Duarte and James are what complicated Garcia needs
Photo: Golden Boy Promotions

Garcia since choosing to work under Derrick James – a regimented trainer at a gym full of killers, which demands fighters perform and compete every day – looks a both mature and smart decision. Garcia already earns good money; similarly to Anthony Joshua, his willingness to leave Los Angeles and be uncomfortable in Dallas could help him reach a new level. Initially I wasn’t convinced that Garcia and James would gel, but the fact that they trained in Dallas and have reached fight week bodes well – the synergy between Garcia and his new, no-nonsense trainer, culture and environment might just work for him. 

Garcia’s physically gifted enough to have been able to make mistakes until the night he fought Davis; he’s explosive; his speed, power, height and reach is more than most fighters ever demonstrate. He also said he could have got up from that second knockdown by Davis which, as a former fighter, is a mindset I struggle to understand, but he wouldn’t be the first fighter to have a great career after saying “no mas”.

He’s been speaking of wanting a rematch with Davis, which is the type of mindset he needs to have. He lost convincingly – if he responded any other way I’d believe he’d had the fight beaten out of him. The fact that he believes that he can get revenge – every fighter needs that mentality – is a real positive. Every fighter needs an element of delusion in their psyche, because they do things regular humans don’t and need to believe in themselves when no one else does. Katie Taylor coming back from her loss to Chantelle Cameron – everyone around her was probably saying “Let’s go somewhere else”, but she still believed that she could win, and that belief fuelled her to victory. Whether or not Garcia can ever beat Davis doesn’t matter at this point – as long as he believes he can and it keeps him in the gym and hungry, it’s a positive. 

I didn’t like, on his behalf, the 136lbs catchweight and rehydration clause he agreed to to fight Davis. But moving up to 140lbs won’t suddenly make things easy for him. Fighters in that weight division are tough, and they have good chins; Garcia may have blasted opponents out at 130lbs and 135lbs, but 140lbs is completely different. If he carries his power up he can really prove himself again; if he doesn’t, it’s in doubt whether he has the abilities he’ll need to succeed at the highest level. His jab and stamina are just two ways in which he has been lacking; unless he remains a puncher he’s going to need to show a lot more.

With Garcia, Regis Prograis, Devin Haney, Josh Taylor, Jack Catterall and Teofimo Lopez, the 140lbs scene is the best the sport can offer in 2023. For all of his popularity, Garcia’s never won a world title, and with competition like that at 140lbs it’s possible he never will.

The 140lbs division has always been a tough one, but because it’s not traditionally a glamour division it’s also often been transient. The biggest money has typically been at 147lbs; in 2023 it just happens to be that 140lbs is full of talent.