Ryan Garcia targets Rolando Romero, slams Shakur Stevenson and proves something to himself

Sat with Oscar De La Hoya and Bernard Hopkins to his right, Ryan Garcia addressed the media after his eighth-round win over Oscar Duarte.

As fans emptied out of the Toyota Center and onto the streets of Houston, Garcia talked about his victory and his future, discussing the likes of Rolly Romero, Shakur Stevenson, Devin Haney and Regis Prograis.

It is WBA beltholder Romero that Garcia wants next, although he was asked if he would fight the winner of next week’s San Francisco clash between Regis Prograis and Devin Haney although he insisted new trainer Derrick James would be part of his decision-making process. Perhaps that was a back-handed shot at his embattled Golden Boy Promotions team.

“For sure, my goal is to become a champion,” Garcia said. “However he [James] sees fit of what that looks like. I trust him and whatever he wants. I want Rolly to be honest. It’s a fun fight, he’s aggressive, he’s a crazy dude, the lead up would be crazy, I want that. He has a title, technically, let’s do it.”

Garcia felt he had shown different facets to his game against Duarte, boxing on the back foot, becoming more aggressive and trying to figure out the Mexican in front of him.

“I was surprised at his chin,” the 25-year-old explained. “I was catching him clean in the first round and he was just eating them, and I was like, ‘Damn, he’s eating them’. So in the first and second round I was thinking he would go by the third, but then by the third he kept putting more pressure on and I was like, I’ve got to try to stop his momentum somehow. He’s a lot slower than me but every time he hits you, it feels like a rock. So we’ll figure it out.

“Because I take a good shot, I took a big uppercut, [he] cut me a little bit for the first time but if I’m going to be a champion, I’ve got to go through moments. I’ve got to go through adversity. My whole career, I didn’t really have that except the Tank fight. This felt like a fight to me.”

Garcia wants to be back out in March. He said inactivity has “really hurt me” and that “you’re not going to be a better boxer that way” of fighting once or twice a year. There have been plenty out of the ring issues. Garcia has taken time out of his career to get his mind right before.

“I was lost for a long time,” Garcia continued. “I took so many backward steps after Covid, with just in life in general, as a boxer, as a person, the way I treated people. I lost a lot of myself, so I fought hard to get back where I’m at now. Even in the Tank fight, I wasn’t there but by the grace of God, He never gave up on me and I want to thank Him for that in front of everybody.”

Shakur Stevenson quickly revealed he had been unimpressed by Garcia’s performance and Garcia wasted no time clapping back at the talented Newark star, highlighting how dull Stevenson’s recent bout with Edwin De Los Santos was.

“He’s been a hater since the amateurs,” Garcia said of Stevenson. “I want to fight him. I will beat his ass, I promise you that. I’ve been in the ring with him. He’ cool but he’s just scared all the time. In a pro fight, it’s not going to work.”

Garcia was content that he had to show grit against Duarte, and said he wanted to have some rest and some fun before getting back to business. De La Hoya said that if Garcia wanted activity, he would deliver it, despite their lawsuit and being at promotional loggerheads.

But Garcia is settled in one area of his life and career. He believes coach James is the man to guide him through the stormy waters at 140lbs.

“I think I’ve found a home with Derrick in Dallas,” Garcia said. “I think we’re a great fit and I’m happy to be there, I’m committed to it. I know Derrick believes in me. I love it there and I’m ready to keep training with him and see where that goes. He says I’m his last fighter, so we’ve got to take it ‘til the wheels fall off.”