Is Ryan Garcia boxing's next "Golden Boy"?

Joseph Herron Updated
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After taking just 80 seconds to dispatch of Nicaraguan contender Francisco Fonseca this past Saturday night, many critics and fans are currently making the natural comparison of Lightweight hopeful Ryan Garcia (20-0, 17 KOs) to his promoter and mentor Oscar De la Hoya.

Both men are Hispanic punchers who stand 5'10" in the center of the ring and possess "marquee looks with show-stopping left hooks".

And just like boxing's original "Golden Boy", Ryan is currently being scrutinized by critics who claim Garcia hasn't been properly tested throughout his first two years as a professional.

Although there are many reasons why the boxing community should be buzzing about the red hot, 21-year-old prospect from Los Angeles, California, many journalists and die-hard fight fans are justifiably questioning whether or not Garcia can actually take a solid punch at the world-class level.

Back in 1995, Oscar De la Hoya had already won two major world titles at 130 and 135 pounds, and was a perfect 17-0 to begin his professional campaign. Despite having impressive victories over Jorge Paez and John John Molina, many of Oscar's critics made claims that he was a big man picking on smaller opposition, questioning his mental and physical durability at the elite level.

On Cinco de Mayo weekend of 1995 in Las Vegas, Nevada, De la Hoya was pitted against big punching, IBF Lightweight champion Rafael Ruelas, who was 43-1 with 34 KO's heading into the highly anticipated contest. Most ringside observers viewed the unification bout to be a true "sink or swim" battle for the former Olympic gold medalist.

In just two rounds, Oscar brutally stopped the hard-charging Mexican fighter with a series of sharp left hooks, knocking him down twice before referee Richard Steele mercifully stepped in and called a halt to the bout.

And just like that boxing's "Golden Boy" legitimized himself as a genuine force and a serious fighter. The HOF puncher went on to capture world titles in six different weight divisions, and solidified himself as the sport's top PPV attraction from 1999 to 2008.

After stopping Fonseca this past weekend in dramatic and emphatic fashion, Oscar has deemed his budding superstar ready for any of the top fighters at 135 pounds. The ambitious promoter plans to pit "Kingry" against former three-division world champion Jorge Linares in the co-main event of the "Canelo vs. Saunders" card at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada...coincidently on Cinco de Mayo weekend of 2020.

Will the former pound for pound fighter prove to be Ryan Garcia's "Rafael Ruelas", and legitimize his stature as a serious player among the talent enriched Lightweight division?

Linares (47-5, 29 KO's) looked extremely sharp in stopping Carlos Morales in just four rounds in the co-main event of "Garcia vs. Fonseca" this past Saturday night.

Is Garcia ready for this perceivably considerable step up in competition?

His proud promoter seems to think so.

"We have a superstar in the making," Oscar stated to various members of the media during a recent press conference in Anaheim, California. "Fonseca went ten rounds with Tank Davis and didn't even make it out of the first round with Ryan.  By the end of the year, he will be a world champion. 2020 will be huge for Ryan Garcia!"

"I'm convinced that Ryan is mentally and physically ready to challenge any of the top fighters at 135 pounds!"

Oscar's promotional mentor, the late great Hall of Fame promoter Don "War a Week" Chargin famously stated, "don't get too excited about any fighter until you find out whether or not he can take a punch."

If Ryan Garcia does face Jorge Linares on May 2nd at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada, boxing fans will certainly find out whether or not the 21-year-old prospect can indeed take a punch at the world-class level.

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