135 pounds is starting to look like the Fab Four division of the nineteen-eighties where a number of young and talented fighters campaigned in and around the same weight division before competing with each other in a round robin. The comparison was recently made by Ring Magazine writer Michael Montero who highlighted this great potential era for lightweights on his Neutral Corner podcast. DAZN shows, Jabs with Mannix and Mora along with Ak and Barak are buzzing about Ryan Garcia and the overall potential matchups that are looming. What makes things even more exciting is the fact that these fighters are call calling each other out and uninterested in waiting to develop or let fights “marinate” as promoters have recently called the trend of marketing fights with soft touches until the big fight is made. Recently this has been a very lucrative strategy for fighters looking to cash in and can be seen at welterweight with Errol Spence and Terrence Crawford pissing off fans with their lack of a legacy defining match up. All too often fights take far too long to materialize and what we eventually do get is a let down as seen with Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao’s pay-per view blockbuster. In the wake of Ryan Garcia’s recent win over Luke Campbell he called out Gervonta Davis and also Devon Haney sparing us the annoying “let me talk to my promoter” bullshit that kills momentum for great matchups.
Ryan Garcia is creating a lot of buzz even among non boxing fans, already two people at work who never talk boxing have been asking me what I think of him and his chances against Davis. I touched on Garcia in my recent article on his victory for Boxing News 24 but I want to express more thoughts on him as a fighter. I am still deciding on where I rate him just yet but his victory over Campbell proves that he is a real contender with true potential and succeeded where Daniel Dubois recently failed. I like Garcia offensively, his left hook is considered his best asset but against Campbell I was left thoroughly impressed by his right hand. He threw it as a lead and behind his jab with excellent snap and effective power. His right hand did damage throughout the fight and might be as effective as his left hook to the head. One of his mentors, Oscar De La Hoya is often thought of as a one handed fighter with his left hook, but Ryan’s right hand compliments his offense in a way that voids that accusation. His finisher to the body was a crushing shot that has been a fight ender for fighters like Mickey Ward, Arturo Gatti, Ricky Hatton and many other inside fighters. Given Garcia’s tall frame it is very impressive that he is not afraid to get inside and target the body where he has to give up his height and risk his head. His hands are quite fast and he is an accurate puncher in combination.
My gripe is where he is defensively and my concern over his punch resistance. Defensively, Garcia keeps his head on the line, is flat footed, does not look comfortable going backwards, and for all of his hand speed his foot speed is not on par. He did hit the canvas against Campbell and in the post fight interview did admit to being dizzy from the blow. I guess the knockdown is a double edged sword. On one hand, many prospects who go untested fold under adversity and cannot recover from an early knockdown. Other fighters lose their poise and panic or shell up and survive against a crafty veteran. I was very impressed from his ability to shake off the punch and go on to victory. On the other hand, I am not sure if it is a good sign that he was on the deck in the first place. Campbell is not an incredibly hard puncher despite his good knockout ratio and he had Garcia on the canvas. Davis is a much more athletic fighter than Campbell and has a heavier punch. Defensively he has great reflexes and can make Garcia miss and line up a devastating shot to get Garcia on the deck. If he is able to get Garcia in trouble I feel he is enough of a finisher to end the fight unlike Campbell who could not replicate the left hand. Davis does give up height and reach in there and while Davis grows into 135 lbs. Garcia looks like he is grinding himself down to the weight and is set to go on to higher classes. I feel if Garcia does not improve his foot work he is in trouble against Davis who can handle his speed and is a dangerous puncher. They do have a common opponent in Francisco Fonseca who Garcia KO’d much quicker but Davis did do it first.
So what next? Eddie Hearn really wants to see Devon Haney get the Garcia fight next. Garcia is the mandatory to Devon Haney but he said recently on DAZN that “belts mean nothing” he is interested in defining fights and knows he is the draw at the weight. He feels all roads lead to him and Davis is the guy the fans want and he feels a fight with Davis is more important than any belt. I agree in a way as there are so many titles that the general public cannot follow it anyway. I feel Teofimo Lopez with his victory over Vasiliy Lomachenko is the champion and despite Haney’s claim to the WBC that I see as dubious, Lopez should be seen as undisputed. Haney holds the WBC title due to politics, whether or not you feel Lomachenko ducked him, Lomachenko was the man and Lopez beat the man. Ideally I would like to see Lopez face Haney to clarify the belt situation while Davis and Garcia battle it out to see who gets the winner. Right now Garcia has created buzz and attention on to Davis and Haney and Lopez vs Lomachenko did very solid numbers on ESPN. I feel a collision by these four fighters creates buzz for all four of them as Garcia and Lopez enjoy notoriety that they can co-sign with Haney and Davis. Davis got a huge clout raise with his highlight reel KO of Leo Santa Cruz. I think Haney is the one with the least notoriety among the larger sports audience despite respect amongst hardcore fans.
I will finish off by stating I hope politics does not get in the way of these great fights! It is imperative for boxing to make sure these fights get solidified if it wants to grow as a larger entity in the minds of the general public. Boxing is a far cry in the United States in comparison to where it was during the Fab Four and a round robin of fights between these four can produce a buzz and interest not seen in some time.