In April of this year, undefeated top Lightweight contender Ryan Garcia returned to the ring after more than a year’s absence from active competition to address his mental health, to score a dominant twelve round unanimous decision over former IBO world champion Emmanuel Tagoe. While Garcia was no doubt impressive in his first bout back in the ring after such a lengthy stretch of inactivity, as most Boxing fans know, the landscape of the 135lb. Lightweight division has changed significantly since Garcia’s knockout win over Luke Campbell in January of last year, which was his last bout before taking time to address his mental health.
Shortly after Garcia’s victory over Campbell, one in which he overcame being knocked down before knocking Campbell out, there were many who felt that such a performance could well have put him on a short list of potential challengers to then Undisputed Lightweight world champion Teofimo Lopez. Since then as most know, Lopez lost the title to IBF mandatory challenger George Kambosos, who subsequently recently lost the championship in his first title defense to undefeated challenger Devin Haney. While Haney and Kambosos are likely to meet in a contractually obligated rematch later this year and with Lopez soon to debut in the 140lb. Jr. Welterweight division, there may be room to maneuver for potential challengers for the winner of the Haney-Kambosos rematch.
Although Garcia may not be seen as in the equation for the time being, the important thing as this observer said following his victory over Tagoe, is for Garcia to remain busy. For the young unbeaten Lightweight contender, the next step on his comeback will come on Saturday, July 16th at the venue formally known as the Staples Center in Los Angeles, CA against fellow contender Javier Fortuna in a bout scheduled for twelve rounds.
The fight, which will be broadcast globally by digital subscription-based sports streaming network DAZN, was originally scheduled to take place in July of last year before Garcia decided to focus on his health. Some may say however, that the bout coming at a later time instead has benefited both fighters. In particular Fortuna, who is coming into this fight after splitting his last two bouts including a strong showing in losing a twelve round unanimous decision to former Jr. Lightweight world champion Joseph Diaz in July of last year. In his last fight, Fortuna scored a first round knockout of veteran Rafael Hernandez in February of this year. The benefit for Fortuna is he one might argue is more established from his fight with Diaz than he would have been if the bout with Garcia had gone on as originally scheduled. For Garcia, obviously the benefit for him came in his putting his health as the top priority and after a convincing win in his return to competition, his confidence should be high going into this fight.
What this fight will boil down to in my eyes will be whether or not Fortuna will be able to impose his will on Garcia. Prior to his return in April, Emmanuel Tagoe seemed confident going into the fight that he would have success and his experience would be enough for him to defeat him. Unfortunately for Tagoe, in the fight he was outboxed and some might say out classed by Garcia and even though he did go the distance, he was not able to make the fight be fought on his terms. This resulted in Garcia being able to fight in a way that he was comfortable and was not in any particular trouble throughout the bout.
In his fight with Joseph Diaz, Javier Fortuna was able to make the fight rough and ugly at times throughout the bout. While ultimately this did not prove successful as he lost the decision in that fight, Fortuna needs to keep Garcia from being able to get into a rhythm. One way he can do this is by trying to make the fight a rough one, particularly in close.
An adjustment that Fortuna needs to make in this fight that he did not do against Diaz is he needs to come forward and bring the fight to Garcia. Despite the success he was able to have in that fight, Fortuna spent much of the bout fighting off of his back foot. Although this allowed him to counter effectively throughout, Diaz consistently coming forward and the appearance of applying pressure on him did make an impression on the judges. Though it is easier said than done, Fortuna needs to find a mix of coming forward more than he did in that fight while also using aspects of what worked for him against Diaz if he wants to be successful in this fight with Garcia.
Recent times in the 135lb. Lightweight division has seen it command the spotlight of the sport with several intriguing matchups featuring the best that the division has to offer. Ryan Garcia vs. Javier Fortuna is the latest example of that as the two contenders along with several others continue vying for position towards the eventual goal of fighting for the Undisputed Lightweight championship of the world. We’ll see if Garcia or Fortuna can move a step closer when they meet at the historic venue now known as the Crypto.com Arena on Saturday, July 16th.
“And That’s The Boxing Truth.”
Garcia vs. Fortuna takes place on Saturday, July 16th at the Crypto.com Arena in Los Angeles, CA. The fight can be seen globally on digital subscription sports streaming network DAZN beginning at 5PM ET/2PM PT with The DAZN Boxing Show, which will feature preliminary bouts on the undercard. The main portion of the card will begin at 8PM ET/5PM PT (U.S. Times). For more information about DAZN including schedules, list of compatible streaming devices, platforms, Smart TVs, availability around the world, local start times in your area, and to subscribe please visit: www.DAZN.com.
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