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Ryan Garcia vs. Jorge Linares behind closed doors: Is this a bad move?

Jorge Linares Ryan Garcia

By Jim Maltzman: Young Golden Boy Promotions phenom Ryan Garcia has a chance to take his career to the next level by fighting the highly technical Jorge Linares in 2020 after the lockdown. For that fight to happen, the 21-year-old Garcia (20-0, 17 KOs) may need to be willing to fight without a live audience behind closed doors.

Taking on the dangerous 34-year-old Linares (47-5, 29 KOs) without fans could be difficult for Ryan, as he’s the type of fighter that feeds off the energy from the fans. Battling the highly experienced veteran Linares in a studio behind closed doors could put Ryan at a disadvantage because he’s not fought in quiet environments.

Jorge Linares with a big advantage in experience 

Linares has fought all over the world during his 18-year professional career, and he’s well-accustomed to battling in front of small crowds at times. He’s a road warrior who has seen it all during his long career, and he’s still highly skilled and fast despite his age. Linares is turning 35 on August 22, but the way he’s fighting, he’s like someone in their early 20s.

In Linares’ last fight, he destroyed Carlos Morales in four rounds on February 14 in Anaheim, California. Morales is the same fighter that gave Ryan Garcia all he could handle two years ago in losing a 10 round majority decision.

There’s no comparison in how Linares and Ryan dealt with the same opponent. Linares treated Morales like a speed bump in knocking him down twice in the fight before the match was halted in the 4th.

What made the win more impressive was Linares suffered a bad cut from a clash of heads in the first round, and had to deal with blood dripping into his left eye virtually the entire fight.

Jorge Linares Ryan Garcia

King Ryan Garcia needs the Linares fight

“The momentum is there for this fight, and the television and streaming audience is going to be huge. Who gives a damn if it’s behind closed doors,” said Chris Mannix to DAZN on the Ryan Garcia vs. Jorge Linares match. “Do the fight, get some momentum, and watch your television audience soar and make your fan base bigger.

“Ryan Garcia is looking for his next fight after knocking out his last two opponents in the first round. It looks like his next opponent could be 35-year-old Jorge Linares, who told ESPN recently that he’d be willing to fight Garcia behind closed doors. Is this a good move for Ryan Garcia?”

“It’s a bad move. Unfortunately, I’ve got to say it’s a bad move because Ryan Garcia is an ascending star, who is being groomed for greatness, and he feeds off that crowd,” said Sergio Mora.

“We saw what happened in his back to back first-round knockouts. In his last fight at the Honda Center [in Anaheim, California], he had over 10,000 people there.

“It was mostly girls, young girls, screaming for him, celebrities, and Youtube stars. Do you think he’s going to want to take all that away just to fight in an empty arena? I don’t know how he’s going to react.

“He’s a young kid, 21-years-old. With a full arena, full of adrenalin, he takes that in the ring. But in an empty arena, how is he going to react? I think it’s a bad move,” said Mora.

Former junior middleweight champion Sergio Mora believes that Ryan Garcia should pump the brakes on his career, and take a soft fight for his next match. That’s not going to sit too well with DAZN, who needs to bring back a lot of the subscribers they lost because of the pandemic.

It’s not going to help Ryan’s career for him to continue to face C and D-level opposition.


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Should Ryan focus on C-level opposition?

“On the other hand, you’ve got Jorge Linares, a three-division world champion,” said Mora. “He’s already been through that. He’s weathered, and he knows how to fight in front of packed arenas or arenas that have nobody in there.

“And he’s experienced, and he’s already been through that mentally. I just think it’s a good move for Linares, but a bad move for the young Garcia.”

“You are now arguing that Ryan Garcia shouldn’t fight Jorge Linares, a tough fight for him, and should fight a lesser opponent next time out?” said Mannix.

“For Ryan Garcia, who is the next potential superstar in boxing, he’s going to be a major ticket-seller and star, yes, I don’t think he should be going backward,” said Mora.

“I know I’m going backward myself, but that’s what I do. And I fight going backward. I backpedal. Ryan Garcia shouldn’t do it. He’s a future star. Maintain that brightness and maintain that shine.”

“This is an incredibly dumb argument because you have no idea, and I have no idea when this pandemic is going to end and when Ryan Garcia is going to be able to get those 10, 12, and 15-thousand person crowds,” said Mannix. “Until then, you can’t just fight bums. You can’t fight C & D-level fighters and expect to make any kind of purse.

“If Ryan Garcia is willing to fight Linares behind closed doors, and Linares is willing to fight Ryan Garcia behind closed doors, go for it! Make it happen.

“There’s already been talk of Garcia and Devin Haney, and Tank Davis. But this is the fight that we’ve been building towards all along.”

What we’ve seen from the recent past that fighters’ are unable to reach stardom unless they take on the elite level opposition. Facing lackluster opposition results in the boxing public showing no interest in fights.

Ryan has already had a lot of fights that have gone under the radar of fans, and he doesn’t need to continue to do that. If Ryan wants to become a star overnight, he’s got to take chances.

Jorge Linares Ryan Garcia

Garcia-Linares = coming out party for Ryan

“Both of these guys fought on the same card a couple of months ago,” said Mannix. “You had Garcia with a spectacular first-round knockout [over Francisco Fonseca]. Linares, he picked up a spectacular knockout [against Carlos Morales] in the co-main.”

“Linares and Ryan Garcia is a big, big fight that can sell and crossover,” said Mora. “It’s a big step doing it in an empty arena. I don’t think Ryan Garcia is going to be able to do that. He’s too young.

“Linares is doing it. Garcia, I think he carries that adrenalin that he gets from the crowd, the Youtube crowd, and the attention that he brings into the ring.

“That’s the reason why he’s gotten the first-round knockouts. It’s because of the adrenalin he brings into the ring. Add Canelo [Alvarez] and [Eddy] Reynoso, and everything he’s been learning. Forget about it. But anything can happen.”

“Okay, two things,” said Mannix. “One, you and I sat next to each other at that Ryan Garcia fight [against Fonseca]. Somehow you got it in your head that the crowd was a Justin Beiber crowd. That is was a whole bunch of women in the crowd. I didn’t see that. I’m not sure what you were looking at, but I didn’t see that.

“So you still didn’t answer the question, though, about what Ryan Garcia should do for the rest of 2020?”

A win for Ryan Garcia over Linares would be a huge feather to stick in his cap to show the boxing fans that he’s arrived, and is ready to take on the lions at 135.

Linares has wins over a lot of talented fighters during his career, and he’s someone that can beat a lot of the top guys. Three years ago, Linares defeated Luke Campbell.

Linares still dangerous

“You figure he wants to fight two more times in 2020,” said Mannix. “He should fight C-level opponents behind closed doors, or he should not fight at all? If you’re saying he shouldn’t do this, then what should he do?”

“He should fight behind closed doors with no fans, but not against Linares,” said Mora on Ryan Garcia. “Linares is a marketable fight, a three-division world champion, and he actually should be a Hall of Famer. He’s a boxer.

“You don’t do that behind closed doors. Ryan Garcia should come back. Both of these guys should come back.”

“What does it matter if you fight behind closed doors?” said Mannix. “You miss out on a live gate at the Staples Center [in Los Angeles, California], which is a lot of money and a good crowd, a great atmosphere.

“But if you can’t have that, are you going to push that off to 2021, when Linares might get beat along the way? He’s not going to stop fighting. This is the problem with the over-marination of boxing fights.

“Yes, there’s a pandemic going on right now. It sucks. It creates a bad atmosphere for boxing, but everybody has got to deal with it. So if you’re Linares and you’re at the twilight of your career, and you’re coming off of a major win [over Carlos Morales], and this is your opportunity, and you’re Ryan Garcia, and this is your next step up, you do it.

“I don’t care if you do it in Eddie Hearn’s backyard. I don’t care if you do it in Oscar De La Hoya’s basement. You just freaking do it.”

As far as contenders go, you don’t get much better than Linares. He’s someone that is still capable of winning and holding down a world title. Two years ago, Linares gave Vasiliy Lomachenko a lot of problems in putting him on the canvas in the sixth and boxing him to a standstill up until the 10th.

Lomachenko stopped Linares in the 10th round with a body shot, but he’ll admit that it was a hard fight for him.

Jorge Linares Ryan Garcia

Is it better to wait for the pandemic to end?

“If you are what you say you are, do it,” said Mora. “The crowd is here; the cameras are here. That’s what Ryan Garcia comes out to. That’s what the song is that he comes out to when the crowd is here.

“I think he gets his adrenalin up, and he carries that adrenalin to the ring. Do you think he wants to come out for that superstar song when no one is in the crowd to watch him fight a [former] three-division champion?

“No, it doesn’t make sense. Tune-up and then wait, and hopefully, the pandemic passes. Get backsides in the seats, get the Youtube crowd, get the A-listers out, and then [Ryan] he can come back and have his red carpet fight [against Linares].”

“I don’t disagree that the audience would be huge for a Garcia vs. Linares, but a broadcaster [DAZN] isn’t going to pay to watch Ryan Garia knockout the next Francisco Fonseca. They’re not going to pay to watch Jorge Linares knockout another opponent [Carlos Morales] as he did in his last fight.

“You’ve got to put on good fights. You just made this argument that you have to have fewer tuneup fights and more big fights. And now in your very next question, you’re making the argument that you should be taking a tuneup fight if you’re Ryan Garcia.”

“I know how to box backward, and I know how to recant what I say, but for Ryan Garcia, it doesn’t make sense,” said Mora. “That’s a future star being groomed for greatness.”

It doesn’t make sense for Ryan Garcia t wait until the pandemic ends before he faces Linares, as this thing may stay around for three or more years. If Ryan decides to gamble by waiting for the pandemic to end before he faces Linares, he could lose out on valuable time.

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