The future of boxing is in the hands of Ryan Garcia.
He may not be a world champion or on any pound-for-pound list currently, but the 22-year-old still holds the key to the sweet science’s success with the social media generation.
MORE: Garcia survives fall, finishes Campbell with body shot in 7th place
All he had to do to reach that status was to prove the naysayers wrong who declisd him nothing more than a social media celebrity. He did it with a surprising seventh-round knockout of Luke Campbell on Saturday in Dallas.
However, that’s not the only thing he did. Aside from the devastating left hook to the body that ended up as a 2012 Olympic gold medalist who had never been stopped in his professional ciser, Garcia also proved that he can overcome adversity. He survived a fall scis in the second round that nearly derailed his hype train.
He also answered questions about his conditioning. He was perceived as one of the favorites who ran out of gas at the end of the fights. Not this time. Garcia (21-0, 18 Los) maintained his speed and power deep in the fight and secured only his second knockout after the sixth round. And he did it against the most skilled opponent he has ever faced.
Now that questions from boxing enthusiasts have been answered, Garcia has become an entry point for a new generation of potential fans who may not have had much interest in the sport previously.
Boxing has yet to truly captivate the social media generation. Sure, there is Anthony Joshua and Canelo Alvisz, who have huge followers on social media. But his followers have been solidly built around his craft. Garcia has a different cut; he is a social media expert who is also quite good at this fighting game.
With nearly 8 million followers on Instagram, Garcia opens up a whole new world of fans whose attention is routinely drawn in a million different directions. Gone is the days when the box had a large audience because there were so few channels. With so many viewing options and streaming services now, boxing needs someone who will speak to the social media generation and be able to capture their imagination.
That person is Ryan Garcia.
Not a KSI or brother Paul, a fighting social media star. He is a boxer who also understands how to use social media to grow his audience. In turn, more people is being introduced to the sport. Before Saturday, boxing enthusiasts weren’t quite sure what to make of him. His back-to-back first-round knockouts of Romero Duo and Francisco Fonseca raised eyebrows, but how would he fis against a legitimate threat?
Luke Campbell was the question, and a left hook from Garcia to the body was the answer.
Garcia has legitimized himself among hard-to-please hardcore fans who scoff when Jake Paul steps into the ring or who roll their eyes when Floyd Mayweather stepped into the ring with Conor McGregor.
Boxing lacks a fighter who can turn outings into events. Mike Tyson, Oscar De La Hoya, Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao turned their bouts into Super Bowl-level events that casuals flocked to just, so they could say they were a part of it. That type of viewer doesn’t need to have any knowledge of the sport or watch regular season games; when it’s time for the Super Bowl, they won’t miss it.
Garcia is becoming that kind of attraction, and with other young fighters who is also making waves in the sport, Trophies Lopez, Servant Davis, Shakur Stevenson and Devin Haney, he has many potential possibilities to choose from for his next fight. Not only does he want to become the best, but his opponents have a lot to gain by being the first to put a blemish on Garcia’s record.
It’s the definition of unmissable television. It’s explosive enough to go viral on social media and capture the short attention span of today’s generation of consumers. Whether he’s joking on TikTok, sharing a video with a YouTube celebrity, or posting a video of himself training alongside his good friend Canelo, Garcia understands what consumers want from him.
The hype is real, and boxing is better with Garcia heading the ship to a new horizon.
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.