Ryan Garcia: Me vs. Tank Davis would do at least 500,000 PPV buys

Ryan Garcia is mobbed by fans outside the Crypto.com Arena in Los Angeles before the opening press conference for his July 16 fight with Javier Fortuna. Photo by Cris Esqueda/Golden Boy

The headline of this article should not be about Gervonta “Tank” Davis. Ryan Garcia returns to the ring on Saturday, but he will not fight Davis. The 23-year-old lightweight contender will take on veteran Javier Fortuna at Crypto.com Arena in Los Angeles in the main event of a Golden Boy Promotions show airing live on DAZN.

Fortuna (37-3-1, 26 KOs), The Ring’s No. 9 ranked lightweight, is as battle-tested as a prize fighter can be without being worn down. He is a former featherweight contender, one-time 130-pound champion, and former lightweight world title challenger (falling via split decision to Robert Easter in 2018).

But as respected as Fortuna is, most interviews with Garcia inevitably lead to Davis and their potential showdown.

It is not difficult to find out why. Garcia and Davis are by far the biggest draws in the 135-pound division (if you’re a RingTV reader, you already know that). Both have a proven track record of attracting more than 10,000 fans to major stadiums in different parts of the country. They have fan-friendly styles, a dedicated social media following, and the kind of celebrity endorsements most boxers lack.

So naturally, hardcore fans have put the two standouts on a long-awaited “collision course.” And the boxing media knows that “Davis vs. Garcia” (or vice versa) will generate more views than any fighter vs. Garcia. another person.

Garcia (22-0, 18 KOs), The Ring’s No. 5 ranked lightweight, appreciates the anticipation. He acknowledges the popularity and support of Davis (27-0, 25 KOs), The Ring’s No. 4 lightweight, and believes a fight can be made despite boxing’s divisive politics.

“Tank and I have captivated the culture, in a way,” Garcia told RingTV without being directly asked about their potential fight.

“Our fight means a lot to the sport when it happens. I wish (pause), not ‘if only’; I am determined to make it, the next fight (after Fortuna).”

That sounds good, actually, it sounds incredible, but boxing fans and the media will be skeptical. Us

know how the sport works these days. Garcia is on one side of the street from the promoters/platforms (Golden Boy/DAZN) and Davis is on the other (PBC/Mayweather Promotions/Showtime). We rarely see big attractions across the street.

“That’s the reality of some aspects of the game,” Garcia admitted. “Usually you just have to settle for fighting the best available opponent on your side of the lane, but luckily, I’ve already played the pieces I need to be able to make that fight happen. Your team is on board. My team is on board. So, now it’s about figuring out the details, you know, putting egos aside and just making the fight happen.”

Davis KO shot vs. Romero Amanda Westcott SHOWTIME

Gervonta Davis finished his competitive fight with Rolando Romero with his big left hand. Photo by Amanda Westcott/SHOWTIME

Garcia was ringside for Davis’ most recent fight, a sixth-round knockout of Rolando Romero on May 28, doing his part to fan the flames of what he hopes will turn into a very public rivalry by criticizing the CEO of Mayweather Promotions, Leonard Ellerbe, and Errol Spence Jr. sharing a bet (that Romero would win the fight) with his large social media audience.

It didn’t escape his notice that the Barclays Center in Brooklyn was packed with Davis fans. The 27-year-old southpaw has also put butts on seats at major arenas in his native Baltimore, Atlanta, San Antonio and Los Angeles.

Garcia drew nearly 15,000 to the AlamoDome in San Antonio for his 12-round unanimous decision over Emmanuel Tagoe in April. More than 10,000 people gathered at the Honda Center in Anaheim, California to watch him defeat Francisco Fonseca in one round on Valentine’s Day in 2020. Garcia also sold tickets in Las Vegas and New York City.

Garcia says he and Davis are attractions in different markets but draw different fan bases.

“Personally, I feel like I got to different demographics than Tank, but when you combine our two demographics, you pretty much have the world,” Garcia said.

“Honestly, I think we’d do 500k and up in pay-per-view purchases. I wouldn’t expect anything less than that. I think 500k is the LEAST I would get due to the fact that you have celebrities who will go crazy for it, you have star athletes who will go crazy for it, you have everyone. (When we fight) the whole culture will be watching at the end of the day. Everyone who agrees with what’s hot is going to be talking about that fight. You will have celebrities like LaBron, you know, who will be there, who will promote the fight. Tank has a lot of famous athletes rooting for him, but I have the highest profile celebrity rooting for me for sure, I have (soccer superstar) Cristiano Ronaldo rooting for me. There is nothing higher than that (laughs).”

LaBron and Cristiano didn’t make it to the Tagoe fight and probably won’t be ringside on Saturday, but here are the steps Garcia needs to take to get to that monster dream fight with Tank.


Garcia vs. Tagoe. Photo courtesy of Golden Boy Promotions

The 12-round bout with Tagoe was significant because it was his first fight in 15 months, during which time he dealt with mental health issues and traded Eddy Reyonso for Joe Goossen as his head trainer.

Garcia admits he didn’t look too good against the once beaten fringe contender who was in survival mode for most of the fight, but thinks it was good to go the championship distance.

“Joe and I were more disappointed in my opponent than in my performance,” he said. “I’m used to people wanting to win, and he didn’t want to win, he just walked in, he was shocked and didn’t want to fight.

“But we are going to keep working on the skills. My distance control could have been better, my hitting could have been better. But just doing those rounds and going back to camp, I feel like it’s all coming back together with timing and reflexes and counters.”

The significance of the Fortuna fight is Garcia’s quick (by today’s standards) turnaround and his second camp with Goossen.

“With this fight you will see everything come together and you will see me as a man, my body is growing on its own,” Garcia said.

“Getting back in the ring two months after my last fight is the most important thing I could do. My hand-eye coordination is improving, that’s because of all the sparring I’m doing, all the practice, all the repetition. My eyes are much better, I can see much more now than in the last training camp. When you take a year and a half off and go back to a real camp, it’s like ‘I know what to do, but I have to relearn it.’

“Those 12 rounds helped me more than anything else, more than if I had knocked Tagoe out early.”

Some expect Garcia to have another long night with Fortuna, a clumsy and tough but athletic 33-year-old southpaw from the Dominican Republic, but with much tougher rounds than he experienced with Tagoe.

Garcia sees Fortuna as a threat, but not out of experience or discomfort, he sees the Dominican as a dirty fighter.

“The main thing is to always keep your distance with a style like his because I really don’t want to get hit with a header,” Garcia said. “But at the end of the day I don’t really care how he fights, I’m just going to kick his ass.

“He can headbutt me and elbow me all he wants, I’ll let the referee handle that. I’m just going to knock him out.”

Garcia is obviously ready to put on a show.

“This is all about love of the sport, love of the game,” he said. “It’s bigger than Black/Mexican, you know, it’s really about us as people coming together and enjoying two young, strong, explosive athletes with speed.

“I mean, that’s a fight you WANT to see. That is a real battle! We’re not here to win tap-tap, we’re here to catch you when you come in and get eliminated, that’s for sure, a dangerous game of chess.”

To be clear, Garcia was talking about him versus Tank, not him versus Fortuna.

“Fortuna is falling asleep whether she likes it or not,” Garcia laughed. “Fortune is going to be fun. I’m not overlooking it. I’m training hard, training five days a week, so if that’s called overlooking, I don’t know what overlooking is.”

Email Fischer at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter and IG at @dougiefischer, and join him, Tom Loeffler, Coach Schwartz and his friends on Tom or Doug’s IG Live every Sunday.