22-year-old wunderkind and social media phenom, Ryan “KingRy” Garcia has spent the last month making headlines. Since beating his first real world class challenge in Luke Campbell back in the beginning of January, the kid has been everywhere, launching buzz-worthy tidbits to media like they were hooks to the head and body of Campbell.
First, there was the on-air goading of Gervonta “Tank” Davis on Mike Tyson’s “Hotboxin'” podcast. For a week or two, all we heard was that Garcia-Tank was all but a done deal. We heard that until, well, it turned out not to be true.
Then, the Ryan Garcia-Manny Pacquiao buzz started, created by Garcia himself via social media post. Team Pacquiao rightfully jumped at the idea of facing a smaller, significantly less experienced, and very much “still-learning” 22-year-old with a bankable name.
Then, rumor started making its way around the internet that Pacquiao-Garcia would just be an exhibition. The response from fans and media was predictably negative. But Garcia stepped in to “clear” the air.
“Hey everybody, just want to make it real clear – my fight with Manny Pacquiao will not be an exhibition,” Garcia said via Instagram Live to his more than 8 million subscribers. “It will be a real fight…It’s all on the line…Our records on the line.”
Okay. Except his own promoter, Golden Boy, says that all this Pacquiao talk is BS.
“There’s nothing to talk about there,” Golden Boy President Eric Gomez told ESPN. “They contacted us, but it turns out there’s nothing to talk about. That fight isn’t going to happen.”
Gomez would, instead, shift the focus to a possible bout with fellow 20-something phenom and current three-belt world champ Teofimo Lopez– a bout which is, reportedly, being discussed with Lopez’s promoter Top Rank.
“Teofimo is more feasible,” Gomez said. “It’s one of the fights that’s obviously of interest to Ryan Garcia. It could be a great fight.”
So, can we safely assume that Ryan Garcia’s bluster is just bluster and self promotion? As I wrote elsewhere:
“It’s kind of clear what Garcia is doing with this orgy of talk, talk, talk since the Campbell fight. It’s pure public relations spin. Even if he’s not doing it intentionally, the result is the same– the creation of headline fodder and perpetual buzz. It’s not a bad instinct to have for a fighter, but he has to resist the urge to go full-on 22-year-old and pump so much BS out there that he becomes something of a joke. With the Tank Davis bluster and now the Pacquiao stuff, he runs that risk. If he puts so much buzz out there and doesn’t deliver, fight fans will just eventually tune him out.”
When Garcia sells the public on Tank Davis and Manny Pacquiao, but ends up fighting some second-tier pug who is a more reasonable challenge for this stage of his career, fans will be (rightfully) upset. And even boxing fans– who tend to be among the more forgivingly gullible fans in the sports universe– might deliver some sort of backlash.
There’s no shame in Garcia being what he is– a talented young prospect who MAY take over the world, but is not quite ready to do so yet. There’s no need for him to talk such a big game when he probably can’t deliver.