Sport: Just like Oscar De La Hoya and Canelo Alvarez, Ryan Garcia can be the face of boxing

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Saturday sees Ryan Garcia makes his long-awaited return to the ring and I’m delighted that this talented young man has put a difficult period behind him.

Due to his incredible popularity, Garcia hasn’t been out the headlines during his absence, but this weekend, exclusively live on DAZN , Garcia will make the news for fighting as he takes on Ghana’s Emmanuel Tagoe.

Like his former stablemate, Canelo Alvarez, Garcia was a fighter destined for massive things from an early age and I can only applaud Oscar De La Hoya and Golden Boy Promotions for the job they’ve done guiding him. His social media following perhaps gave an indication that he was more interested in being famous than being a fighter, but those beliefs were extinguished at the start of last year.

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Taking on Luke Campbell, a significant step up for Garcia, the Californian had the type of fight that will serve him so well moving forward. It was a breakout performance against a quality boxer, and he ticked so many boxes along the way including climbing off the floor to win. The body shot Garcia managed to end the fight was beautiful and I was left feeling extremely impressed with what I had seen.

On that night in January 2021, Garcia placed himself very much in the mix at 135lbs as he managed to stop Campbell, a feat that Jorge Linares and Vasiliy Lomachenko couldn’t achieve. The result placed Garcia amongst the likes of Teofimo Lopez, Gervonta Davis, and Devin Haney, but Garcia’s biggest battle was to come outside the ring.

Admitting to his mental health problems, Garcia showed admirable bravery and he made the correct decision to put himself before his career. I’ve seen interviews with him this week talking about how he dealt with his issues and how much it means to him to be able to address what he’s been feeling. Seeing him fully recovered and ready to do what he does best has made me happy.

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Over a year on from the Campbell fight, and with a dark period very much behind him, Garcia now must get his career moving again and build from the win over the 2012 Olympic gold medallist. It was a victory that moved him right up the rankings at lightweight, and now he has to provide a big reminder why he should be considered a huge problem in the division.

Against Tagoe, he’s facing an opponent who’s probably a slight step down from Campbell, but considering his time away from the ring, it’s the right fight for him. Garcia has to win and he has to win in style. People were buzzing and excited after witnessing Garcia dismantle Campbell, but the division has changed a lot since then and now he has to prove himself all over again.

If Garcia is successful on Saturday night, then he has to get back in the ring as soon as possible. Boxing is good for him and he’s good for boxing. It’s a perfect fit and the sooner he fights again, the easier it is to stay in the spotlight and push on for world titles. If he can get back out again this summer, then his team, which includes the great Joe Goossen, can realistically aim for world titles by the end of this year or early next.

By becoming world champion, not only will Garcia’s profile increase, the plaudits for his courage and dedication to rebound from where he was will see him earn even more supporters. Garcia has been around the likes of Oscar De La Hoya and Saul 'Canelo' Alvarez for long periods, so he knows what it’s like to be backed by faces of boxing past and present.

If he can make a winning return to the ring and look good doing so, there’s no reason why he can’t emulate the names that have helped him along the way.

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