Sunday Convo: More questions than answers for Ryan Garcia

Ryan Garcia (24-1, 20 KOs) scored an eighth-round knockout over Oscar Duarte (26-2-1, 21 KOs) in Houston, TX, last night on DAZN, but the victory created more questions than answers for the 25-year-old junior welterweight. Garcia's career has had so many twists and turns that it’s partially why people stay interested in him aside from the social media videos and influencer interactions. Last night, fans saw a different version of Garcia, and deep down inside, he may have seen it too. 

From the start, we saw glimpses of what gave him the moniker “The Flash” early on in his career. Garcia had a fast left jab going, and he would follow it up with an overhand right and then a left hook, which made Duarte hesitant at first. Once the first round ended, it felt like the old Garcia was back, and we would all see a highlight reel knockout. But in the second round, it appeared that Duarte was just getting a feel of Garcia’s speed and power as he started to come on himself, going to the body and landing big right and left hooks to Garcia's head.

Garcia seemed bothered by the power and admitted to it after the fight. “Everyone kept asking me why Oscar Duarte – he was so tough! I thought I would get him out in the second or third, but he was like a rock,” said Garcia during the post-fight press conference. Duarte would show more of that power in the third and fourth rounds, while Garcia did a horrible version of the shoulder roll to avoid Duarte’s offense. While it took about a round or two, Duarte adapted to Garcia’s shoulder roll and started throwing left hooks that landed and bothered Garcia.

Coach Derrick James told Garcia to stop doing the shoulder roll and use his legs to evade Duarte’s punches and get his offense off more, so he did. Once Garcia adjusted, he started to pick apart Duarte, and it began to feel like he was in control again. Duarte was tough and had his moments through the sixth and seventh rounds, but in the eighth, Garcia landed a left hook to the temple, which would cause Duarte to stumble. Afterward, Garcia would land a barrage of punches, sending Duarte down for the knockdown. The referee was in his face counting, and when he got to 9 ½, Duarte got up, but by then, the referee waived off the fight, giving Garcia the knockout victory.

Looking at Garcia’s overall performance, he looked confused and between fighting styles. When he saw that Duarte was not getting out of there right away, Garcia started making his own game plan in the ring. Given that this was his first fight with Derrick James, no one would expect a dramatic change, but one thing that still lingers is Garcia panics a bit when the things he has in his head don’t work out. The great ones know how to make in-ring adjustments, and he still has to learn how to do that. His inside game wasn’t great either, and turning his back to the fighter is not the best technique to use when your opponent gets close.

There are other questions about the relationship or lack thereof with his promoter, Golden Boy. It played out publicly again this week, taking a little shine off the fight. Can Garcia and Golden Boy Promotions have a cordial relationship which will result in the best fights being made?

Will Garcia evolve under Derrick James and become a complete fighter? All things that must be answered sooner than later.

We must remember that Garcia is only 25 and is about two to three years away from peaking. There is time for him to become a great fighter, but the sand in the hourglass doesn’t stop running, so Garcia needs to find that focus and stick with it.