Ryan Garcia struggled over the weekend.
Showed some patience. Landed some shots.
And eventually got to his foe with a series of flashy punches that yielded three knockdowns, a sixth-round finish and an audience to make a case for bigger quarry.
He did so – calling Gervonta Davis specifically by name.
“I will fight Tank next,” Garcia said. “If Tank wants it, let’s get it. I have a spirit of competition in me, and you’re gonna see it when I fight Tank Davis, and I’m gonna whip his ass from him.”
Maybe he will. Maybe I won’t.
The point is it’s a fight people want to see.
So much that it ranks prominently – second, in fact – among the fights SiriusXM host and former New York State Athletic Commission chair Randy Gordon told Boxing Scene that fans seem to be clamoring for the most.
It’s hard to blame them.
The style clash of a lanky 5-foot-10 right-hander and a predatory 5-foot-6 southpaw is particularly intriguing, given that both men have shown fight-altering power to the head and body.
The fan base clash is equally intriguing, too, with Davis having played to big numbers in Baltimore, Atlanta and New York in recent fights while building on a hometown foundation that’s evolved into crowds dotted with high-profile athletes and celebrities angling for space.
Garcia, meanwhile, blends the traditional boxing fervor that stems from a Mexican-American heritage with the new-school arrivals that help comprise his more than one million subscribers on YouTube and nearly nine million followers on Instagram.
Ask a teenager about Oscar De La Hoya and you’ll get a blank stare. Ask the same teen about Garcia and you’ll get instant recognition.
And perhaps the best reason for the fight? Both guys seem to want it.
At least when microphones are present.
The rivalry has kept each man’s name in the other’s mouth for the last several months. Davis has suggested the match has been made in public but rejected behind the scenes, while Garcia counters by saying Davis has been protected by promoter Floyd Mayweather Jr.
It’s a continuing soap opera on social media and between business types.
But if the rivals are who they say they are, it won’t be a wish for much longer.
As for other matches Gordon says fans most want made, read on:
5. Artur Beterbyev vs. Dmitry Bivol
Certainly a good place to start.
The two 30-something Russians have seized hold of the light heavyweight division thanks to impressive, high-profile victories over Canelo Alvarez and Joe Smith Jr. in recent months and there’s no sense delaying the summit meeting any longer.
If it does get done, the winner will have a menu full of foes looking to test their mettle.
4. Canelo Alvarez vs. David Benavidez
The Mexican pay-per-view star has a compelling hors d’oeuvre on his plate in IBF/IBO/WBA middleweight champion Gennady Golovkin later this summer, but assuming their 168-pound match goes according to chalk he’ll have an equally hefty meal in store if he chooses Benavidez – who’s been a two-time champ at super middle and never lost that status in the ring.
The Arizona native would have significant edges in height and reach if the match happens and it’d be interesting to see if Alvarez could rise to the occasion in the aftermath of his Bivol loss.
3. Tyson Furyvs. Oleksandr Usyk/Anthony Joshua II winner
Let’s face it, this one will be gigantic if it happens.
Fury has cemented his place as the world’s best heavyweight and the winner of the Saudi Arabian rematch between Usyk and Joshua would surely deserve a crack at him.
If Usyk makes it two in a row against AJ it’s a meeting of two unbeaten heavyweight champs. And if Joshua avenges his 2021 loss from him it’s the culmination of a verbal rivalry that’d fill Wembley Stadium three times over. Either way, the fans win.
1. Terence Crawfordvs. Errol Spence Jr.
When it comes to the welterweights, it’s a recurring theme.
Every generation or so a pair of fighters climb to the top of the 147-pound mountain and prove their superiority to the point where a clash is not only called for, it’s inevitable.
Ray Leonard had his Tommy Hearns. Oscar De La Hoya had his Felix Trinidad. Floyd Mayweather Jr. had his Manny Pacquiao.
Crawford and Spence have shared divisional space for years but the matchup was essentially off-limits because of promotional loyalties. Now that those issues have been cleared up, the fighters themselves have been calling each other’s name with authentic intentions.
It seems real this time. And for the sake of their career definitions, it had better be.
“It’s not like they are undefeated contenders,” Gordon said. “They are undefeated champions, each with a major claim to the welterweight championship. Ten years ago, we wanted to see Floyd Mayweather vs. Manny Pacquiao so badly. It marinated for years, until it was over-marinated.
“Let’s not over-marinate Crawford v. Spence.”
* * * * * * * * * *
This week’s title-fight schedule:
WBA minimum title – Chonburi, Thailand
Thammanoon Niyomtrong (champion/No. 1 IWBR) vs. Chayaphon Moonsri (No. 10 WBA/No. 3 IWBR)
Niyomtrong (23-0, 9 KOs): Eleventh title defense; Two straight KOs in title fights (8 total rounds)
Moonsri (55-2, 19 KOs): Sixteenth title fight (13-2); Held WBC title at 105 (2014-20, 12 defenses)
Fitzbitz says: It’s been a rough two years for the now-36-year-old Moonsri, who’d become the darling of the elite set with a 54-0 career start. Too big an ask. Niyomtrong by decision (80/20)
Last week’s picks: 1-0 (WIN: Ioka)
2022 record picks: 21-10 (67.7 percent)
Overall pick record: 1,230-402 (75.4 percent)
NOTE: Fights previewed are only those involving a sanctioning body’s full-fledged title-holder – no interim, diamond, silver, etc. Fights for WBA “world championships” are only included if no “super champion” exists in the weight class.
Lyle Fitzsimmons has covered professional boxing since 1995 and written a weekly column for Boxing Scene since 2008. He is a full voting member of the Boxing Writers Association of America. Reach him at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter – @fitzbitz.