Ryan Garcia is boxing’s brightest young star.
Now, he wants to be treated like one.
In an extended interview with Sports Illustrated on Monday night, Garcia expressed frustration with his current situation, specifically with DAZN, the subscription-based streaming service that has aired his last four fights.
DAZN has a long term contract with Garcia’s promoter, Golden Boy.
“I’m not getting respect in the business matters,” Garcia said. “They promote me as one of the biggest names that they have got. I’m not feeling the extra love that they claim I’m getting shown. I’m one of their most viewed fighters. Guaranteed, top-three. I’m getting the views. I’m getting the clicks. More than anyone but Canelo [Alvarez] and [Anthony] Joshua. Where’s my love?”
Like most fighters, Garcia’s career was put on hold when COVID-19, the coronavirus, ground the sports world to a halt in mid-March. In February, Garcia picked up the biggest win of his career, a first-round knockout of veteran Francisco Fonseca. It was Garcia’s second straight first round stoppage, the first coming 3 ½ months earlier, when Garcia dropped the rugged Romero Duno. Garcia was tentatively scheduled to face former lightweight champion Jorge Linares next month before the pandemic wiped out the boxing schedule.
In recent weeks, Garcia has tweeted about a plan to fight on July 4. However Golden Boy has not been able to secure him an opponent. Linares is in Japan and unavailable. Garcia has had a back and forth on social media with Abner Mares, a former 126-pound champion, but says “I guarantee you Mares is going to ask for way more than I ever had.”
Garcia made it clear: He is ready for the big fights. He said he will fight Devin Haney, a 135-pound titleholder who confronted Garcia in the ring in February, in July or August. He is anxious for a fight with Gervonta “Tank” Davis, a two-division titleholder who has verbally sparred with Garcia on social media. Garcia says he is willing to fight anyone because “that’s where I get my respect.”
“I’m done with the whole, ‘well they work with this promoter or this [network] so it can’t happen,’” Garcia said. “I want to break down barriers in boxing. I want to break down those doors. I don’t care about losing. How many times did Michael Jordan lose before he won his first championship? It wasn’t about the number of losses with Sugar Ray Leonard or Tommy Hearns. That marketing strategy worked for Floyd [Mayweather], but why has everyone been brain washed to think that you have to stay undefeated? I’m a bad ass fighter who isn’t afraid to lose.”
Garcia, who signed a multiyear extension with Golden Boy last September, says he just wants to be compensated fairly. Undefeated, Garcia has a sizeable following on social media, with 6.4 million followers on Instagram and another 394,000 on Twitter. A crowd of more than 10,000 watched his win over Fonseca. Superstar athletes like LeBron James post about him on Twitter.
According to Garcia, talks for a July fight fell apart because he was only offered $200,000. Golden Boy, Garcia said, told him that was all DAZN was willing to give him.
“That’s bull----,” Garcia said. “Why am I being held back financially? What is the problem here? Why is DAZN giving out big numbers to guys fighting nobodies? It’s fu—ed up how I’m being treated. I’m not asking for $100 million. Just give me the check I deserve. How am I one of the biggest fighters in the world and I get bigger paychecks outside of boxing?”
On Tuesday, Golden Boy president Eric Gomez told SI that they have a contract with Garcia and intend to abide by it.
“We are exclusive to DAZN and Ryan is exclusive to us,” Gomez said. “We’re living in a pandemic. There are some real hard times out there. It’s arguably the worst financial downfall since the Great Depression. Ryan’s next show is not going to have any fans. His gate is significant. But he wasn’t asked to take a pay cut. In the contract that we recently signed, we were going to pay him above his minimum for this next fight.”
Last fall, Garcia was at odds with Golden Boy over his decision not to face Duno on short notice in September. Garcia believed he deserved more money. After signing the extension with Golden Boy, which Garcia called “one of the most lucrative deals for a prospect” in boxing history, Garcia blasted out Duno in the co-feature of Canelo’s knockout win over Sergey Kovalev.
DAZN does not have a direct relationship with fighters. Its boxing contracts are executed with promoters. DAZN agrees to pay a promoter a set license fee over the course of a year, with the promoter determining the purse fees for its fighters. Asked about his relationship with Golden Boy, Garcia said he preferred to discuss business directly with DAZN.
“I’m not saying anything about Golden Boy,” Garcia said. “I’m not going to worry about what Golden Boy is doing right now. I just want my direct line. I’m tired of going through middle men. DAZN needs to call me. I need to hear from them why stuff can’t happen. You have Shakur Stevenson going on [Tuesday] night. Why is ESPN going and not me?”
“I’m speaking my truth. I’m done being held back. This has to do with respect. I have the following, I have the talent and I have the work ethic. I just want to be great and I feel like everyone is trying to control me. Let’s see where Devin Haney is at. I’ll take that title from him. Let’s see Gervonta, I’ll take his, too. Put me in with someone you don’t think I’m going to beat. Just give me what I deserve.”