The relationship between Golden Boy Promotions and prized lightweight prospect Ryan Garcia, which was seemingly fractured beyond repair last week, took a 180-degree turn Wednesday when Garcia signed a multiyear deal to extend his contract.
Golden Boy announced that Garcia’s next fight will take place as the co-feature of the Sergey Kovalev-Canelo Alvarez light heavyweight world title bout on Nov. 2 (DAZN) at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas.
Terms of the five-year deal were not disclosed, but Golden Boy said, “Garcia has extended his contract with Golden Boy in one of the most lucrative deals in history for a boxing prospect.”
Garcia still had “a couple of years left” on his existing agreement, Golden Boy president Eric Gomez told ESPN.
Garcia was pleased by the turn of events.
“Actions speak louder than words,” he said of the new deal. “I’m here today to show everybody that I consider Golden Boy my family and that we’re going to be in this together as I fulfill my dreams. Just like I have all the capabilities to become a big star, Golden Boy has all the tools to get me there. But I just want to tell all of our fans: Enjoy the ride!”
Those comments are in stark contrast to what had been going on between Garcia and the company.
Garcia, the 2017 ESPN prospect of the year, whose massive social media following — more than 3 million followers on Instagram — made him a star before he had a major fight, was outspoken about his disappointment in his purses relative to his drawing power when things took a turn for the worse last weekend.
Garcia (18-0, 15 KOs), 21, of Victorville, California, was scheduled to face Avery Sparrow in the co-feature of junior middleweight titlist Jaime Munguia’s defense against Patrick Allotey this past Saturday at the Dignity Health Sports Park in Carson, California.
However, Sparrow was arrested in a Southern California Target parking lot the day before the fight on an outstanding warrant because of a gun charge in his hometown of Philadelphia, and the fight was canceled. Golden Boy wanted Garcia to instead face Romero Duno, who was slated to fight Ivan Delgado on the undercard, in the new co-feature. Duno was willing to face Garcia, and Golden Boy planned to pay Delgado to step aside.
But Garcia declined the fight without first renegotiating the terms for what figured to be a tougher fight on such short notice. Then Garcia was angered when Gomez wrote on social media that Garcia turned down fighting Duno because he was “too tough.”
Gomez later amended his comment to say it was trainer Eddy Reynoso — who also trains Alvarez — who did not want to make the change on such short notice, but the damage was done. Garcia was livid.
“You’ll do anything to make the blame on me! I had no clue Avery had a warrant! He got arrested! The card [is at] risk because I sold [tickets] and got the viewers,” Garcia wrote on social media at the time. “Remember when I didn’t have value! Now a bulls— story comes out that I’m scared of Duno! Peanuts I’ve been given and guess what …”
Golden Boy tried to save Garcia’s spot on the card by matching him with former world title challenger Petr Petrov, who had been training for a fight this week. But Golden Boy and Garcia could not make a deal, and Garcia didn’t fight.
“My promoter acted in a very unprofessional manner [pattern at this point], saying things that were false about me,” Garcia wrote. “I’m a fighter and not afraid to fight anyone!!! My team tried tirelessly to negotiate a fair purse amount to save the show, but my promoter has shown little interest in my career. I promise I tried for my fans. But like all things in life, I’m staying positive and will come back soon.”
Garcia was also upset by comments Oscar De La Hoya, the Golden Boy CEO, made to the Los Angeles Times in a column published Monday in which he said of Garcia, “Is he my best young fighter? No. Maybe next to Vergil Ortiz. Vergil Ortiz is the real deal. Ryan is in a very unique situation because of his social media following. The fact that he has so many followers is great, but it hasn’t transcended over to boxing. It just hasn’t. That’s the bottom line.
“So how do we do that? He has to win a world title. And who knows how to get him there? I do. Don’t listen to all these voices in your ear telling you, ‘Hey, you have 3 million followers. You’re supposed to be getting paid this much.’ Don’t listen to them. Just trust the process, and you will get there.”
After the column was published, Garcia unloaded at De La Hoya on social media on Monday.
“I don’t even want to speak about this stuff anymore but Oscar call me for real and stop going to the press! We haven’t talked at all,” Garcia wrote. “I want the best fights, I’m 21, I have the drive to be even better and I will continue to get better and fight the best fighters.
“Oscar if you don’t believe in my talents then you can release me elsewhere. Point blank period! If you do then come talk to me. Please no more press and public bashing.”
Gomez said Garcia reached out to him Tuesday to ask for a meeting with him and De La Hoya.
“All I’ll say is there was a lot of miscommunication, and the kid stepped up,” Gomez told ESPN. “He reached out to me and said he wanted to meet with me and Oscar and that he wanted to fix this. So we got together, and we worked it out. There was stuff we had to clear up on both sides, and we found a way to move forward. We’re very satisfied we will be able to make him one of the biggest stars in boxing.”
Gomez said he hopes to match Garcia with Duno (21-1, 16 KOs), 23, of the Philippines, who knocked out Delgado in the seventh round Saturday, on Nov. 2.
“We’re going to try to make the fight,” Gomez said. “Ryan said he really wants to fight Duno, and it’s a very good fight. Duno is in the Philippines now, so we haven’t had a chance to talk to him yet.”
De La Hoya originally signed Garcia in late 2016, when he had only a few professional fights and declared at the time that he was the company’s most important signing since the signing of Alvarez in 2010. Now De La Hoya is very pleased that they have worked out their issues.
“One of our defining features as a company is to develop champions and make them into stars,” De La Hoya said. “From the second we discovered Garcia, we knew he was different. We knew he was special. We knew he could move the needle.
“Besides his amazing talent, he brings an outside appeal that few fighters can achieve. At the same time, he also needs the right environment to develop, and that environment is with us. Under our guidance, I have no doubt that this young, charismatic fighter will become the biggest star in the sport.”