Gen-Z superstar Ryan Garcia sacrificed Christmas so he can try and take the world by storm in the biggest bout of his life

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Ryan Garcia. Photo by Steve Marcus/Getty Images
  • Ryan Garcia is one of world boxing’s youngest stars.
  • The 22-year-old is rising in popularity and stature in the fight game and competes in the biggest fight of his life Saturday when he takes on Luke Campbell in Dallas.
  • Garcia told Insider that Christmas is his favourite holiday because it conjures up magical memories from his childhood, but he sacrificed the holiday season to focus on fight night.
  • Victory means sweeter Christmases in the future and tees up big-money bouts against three of the sport’s other popular young kings – Teofimo Lopez, Devin Haney, and Gervonta Davis.
  • Garcia has a dream to fight them all, and win, when they are all in their athletic primes.
  • But before he gets there, he has to make a statement this weekend.
  • Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Gen-Z superstar Ryan Garcia, 22, endured a Christmas period like no other he had experienced before.

The Garcia family tradition involves gingerbread houses, Santa costumes, and festive spirit throughout December. It’s the fighter’s favourite holiday.

Garcia even recalled to Insider his fondest Christmas memory. “Back when I was younger, I finally got this video game ‘Rock Band’ where you become a band member, and I got my family to play drums, guitar, and somebody sings.

“I wanted that game so bad and we all spent hours playing it. That was the best Christmas.”

The Californian told us he normally “turns things up” around New Year’s Eve, and even travelled to New York City to meet the singer-songwriter Shawn Mendes so the pair could usher in 2020 together, one year ago.

These days, things are completely different. Garcia knew all along he’d avoid leftovers on Christmas Day as his diet is so strict, and likely have an early night December 31.

There’d be no party in The Big Apple with Canada’s newest music sensation this year, as he’d instead be in Texas, ready to make weight at 135-pounds. “It sucks,” he told us.

But that’s the life a fighter sometimes has to live when they’re training for the biggest bout of their life.

And Garcia’s first big fight arrives Saturday as he takes on the former gold medal-winning Olympian boxer Luke Campbell at the American Airlines Centre in Dallas, which is a Golden Boy-promoted event that will be broadcast on DAZN.

Victory over Campbell would mark Garcia’s coming-out party as a world-level fighter, and tee-up big-money showdowns against other young boxers like Gervonta Davis, Devin Haney, and Teofimo Lopez.

Golden Boy hopes Garcia can be the athlete to carry the company, and the sport, forward throughout the 2020s.

The stakes, this weekend, are high.

The Campbell fight will be a coming-out party as a championship-calibre fighter, Garcia said

Ryan Garcia boxing
Ryan Garcia. Photo by Sye Williams/Getty Images

Garcia has had to make sacrifices during the holiday season because of the scheduling of his January 2 fight, but he says it’s not all bad because he sees Saturday as the beginning of a new chapter in his career.

Campbell is a step-up in class for Garcia, who took the industry by storm when he bounced his opponent’s head off the canvas with a left hook knockdown 11 months ago.

The DAZN commentator Sergio Mora tweeted “a new star is born” at the time, and even Mayweather Promotions boss Leonard Ellerbe — who represents Garcia’s rival Gervonta Davis — was impressed.

Garcia has not fought since then but he is tipped to win when he returns to the ring for the Campbell match, which will be “a very important moment” in Garcia’s career to date, the fighter said.

“I took Christmas as just another day as I’m focused on January 2. There’ll be a lot of good Christmases when I come out on top.

“I just have to give this my all, and my family and everybody around me understand that because they know what my dream is. I’m not in the best Christmas spirit, I’m hungry — they understand.”

When asked if a Campbell win marks his coming-out party as a championship-calibre fighter ready for his lightweight rivals like Teofimo Lopez, Devin Haney, and Gervonta Davis, Garcia said: “I definitely see it as that.”

He added: “This is a moment that will be very defining in my career, and probably the most important in my career so far.

“This is gonna set me up for the fights that can make me a legend one day, so I have to win this fight. I’ve put my whole heart into this. This is it. Guys, I’m so excited.

“Campbell is a good fighter, a good boxer. I like how he fights and the tools he has. He obviously doesn’t have the power, or the best speed, in my opinion. But he’s a very good technical fighter.”

Garcia said he’s spotted flaws in Campbell’s fighting style through his losses to Yvan Mendy in 2015 and Jorge Linares two years later.

These are things Campbell cannot fix, Garcia told us. “I see little things and I’ll see in the ring a little better. I might see a shot even faster than I thought. I think this fight can potentially bring that dog out of me. And if I’ve got to take it to him to win this fight, I will. So, whatever I’ve got to do, I’ll go in and do it.”

Garcia harnessed the power of social media to become as popular as he is today

@kingrygarciaJanuary 2nd the reign begins Q watch from anywhere on [email protected]_usa

loriginal sound – Ryan Garcia

Combined with his unbeaten boxing record of 20 wins (17 knockouts), Garcia has amassed a substantial following on multiple social media channels.

  • He has 7.8 million followers on Instagram
  • 3.1 million followers on Tik Tok
  • 751,000 subscribers on YouTube
  • 470,000 followers on Twitter
  • And 402,000 followers on Facebook

“There’s definitely a key to success on social media, and it’s all about finding it,” Garcia told Insider. “What’s your thing on social media? [Whatever it is] you can’t be afraid of what people say because there’ll always be negative comments.

“Maybe that stops a lot of young fighters from doing it. As people say, ‘Oh, you’re just this, you’re just that,’ but that’s not going to stop me from working hard or being successful in the ring.

“You just have to battle through it, and you’ll gain your supporters. It all benefits you because the more people who know about you, the better it is for your fights when you win and become bigger.

“You have to have tough skin when it comes to social media. When I was first coming up, they tried to bash me, tried to say I’m overrated, and that’s just because they’re scared of what I will become.

“Slowly, they will be more scared as I keep winning.”

“My favourite platform is starting to become YouTube because you don’t have to be on it so much, and can relax and put out good content. Make sure it does good, promote it.

“But then my second [favourite] is Instagram. And my third is Tik Tok because it’s fun.”

Garcia is one of the few fighters to really embrace the power of social media, and told us it’s “an untapped resource” as he speaks directly to other people in his generation — all of whom are potential fans.

“This is this generation,” he said. “This is what we’re about. We learn everything through social media. We don’t learn it that much from the regular media anymore.

“That’s how kids nowadays gets their news. They didn’t know the new President became President through the TV, but because they saw a post where somebody on Instagram said that. That’s just how it is.”

Garcia is one of a number of youngsters who can carry the sport through the 2020s

Ryan Garcia boxing Luke Campbell win
Ryan Garcia. Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images

The most exciting thing in world boxing is the presence of dozens of young athletes who are years away from their respective primes, but are approaching world championship status if they aren’t title-holders already.

There’s the Puerto Rican teenager Xander Zayas, a Floyd Mayweather protege in Richardson Hitchins, and top tier prospects like Charles Conwell and Elvis Rodriguez.

There’s the flyweight champion Junto Nakatani, flashy slickster Chris Colbert, and first-round knockout artist Edgar Berlanga.

There’s also Erickson Lubin, Jaron Ennis, Vergil Ortiz, Jaime Munguia, Shakur Stevenson, and David Benavidez.

The list, as you can see, goes on and on before we’ve even gotten to the the most interesting thing about this new generation.

The pound-for-pound talent Teofimo Lopez, ticket-selling attraction Gervonta Davis, and unbeaten Matchroom pro Devin Haney all compete in and around the 135-pound weight class — the division that is Garcia’s current home.

Should boxing politics not get in the way, it would mean this fabulous foursome — Lopez, Davis, Haney, and Garcia — can fight one another again and again when they are all in their 20s, in the roaring 2020s.

This is not lost on Garcia, who wants to beat Campbell this weekend in style, and then lure “Tank” Davis into the ring so the pair can build on one of boxing’s great modern day rivalries.

“I have a dream to beat four fighters in their prime,” Garcia said.

“I want to beat Luke Campbell, who says he’s in his prime right now.

“I want to beat Gervonta Davis who is in his prime, I want to beat Teofimo Lopez in his prime, and I want to beat Devin Haney in his prime.

“This would help make my case as one of the greatest fighters of my time, not beating these guys at the right time but at the time when people are saying, ‘Damn, you probably shouldn’t fight that guy.’

“The more pressure, the better chance I have of becoming a diamond. I want to be up there with Muhammad Ali on the Mount Rushmore of all-time great boxers.

“It’s exciting times,” he said. “I have the chance to do something great and all four of us do if we all get into the ring pretty soon.

“We have social media and can a fight get hot real quick — I know how to do it. I can make these fights happen, and I refuse to wait. I want to get this done.

“I won’t be in the sport long and I just want to make the biggest statements straight away against these deadly fighters.”

A knockout on Saturday against Campbell would be the first of those big statements. After that, few may bet against him from doing it again and again.

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