Ryan Garcia is preparing to fight Oscar Duarte Jurado on Saturday, and potentially promoters Golden Boy Promotions in court, as he attempts to start rebuilding following his first defeat, by Gervonta “Tank” Davis. He discusses what went wrong and how he’s put it right, with Declan Warrington

BN: What’s it been like coming to terms with your first defeat?

RG: At that time I wasn’t committed. I wasn’t dedicated. I had a lot of things that I was still figuring out in life, and being in that place – I just didn’t care enough. I didn’t care about boxing. I was going through the motions because of all the layoffs, and all the bullshit I was going through. I had to cut so much weight, and I was so frustrated I stopped caring. But I went through with it – even though I did suffer an injury in the gym and suffered so much stuff outside the ring, I just didn’t wanna either pull out or wait for a better time, because boxing was so damn boring. Nobody was boxing each other, and I was tired of that so I was like, ‘You know what? Let me go through with this and make a lot of money – I don’t even care. I’m gonna do it’, and that’s what I did. It wasn’t tough for me, because I wasn’t shocked. That wasn’t me. I know that wasn’t me. I wasn’t my best. When it happened, I didn’t feel nothing. But about two months later, “Oh, I lost?”. It woke up something else. I haven’t been this focused since when I was coming up in 2019 to 2020 – I was just on that rise. Something just clicked in my brain, and now I’m on fire. I really am.

BN: How much did the catchweight of 136lbs and rehydration clause affect you that night?

RG: There was two things against me. It was one, where I was at in myself, and on top of that how drained I was. People don’t understand how bad it is to cut that much weight and then not be able to rehydrate. That’s some bullshit. Nobody accepts it, and you see now in other fights, people are trying to put that on other people, and they’re like, “No, no, no – I wouldn’t do that. I wouldn’t accept that”, because that’s how you get out of a fight. But I tried to not let that happen and just make the fight, so I could inspire some people – at least make boxing live again. It wasn’t my best performance, but, damn, we did make Vegas full of energy again, like back in the day, and that’s what I wanted to give the sport, but I won’t ever do that again. I will never do that again. I’ll string up these victories and get my rematch at 140, ‘cause that was bullshit, and that was not me.

I was [also] distracted with my own demons. After [January] 2021 when I beat Luke Campbell, everybody knows I took a year-and-a-half layoff, but in that year-and-a-half layoff it was so destructive for me – I took so many steps backwards. I started drinking; I started doing whatever I wanted to do, and just stopped worrying about where I was at in the sport. I really lost track of myself, and then coming back I felt so rushed I just got right back into it. I just didn’t quite know what I was doing, and then I would just go back to the bad habit, because I couldn’t find myself, and then I fought [in 2022, Javier] Fortuna, I felt a little bit better, but then I had to go through another year-and-a-half layoff before I got in the ring again, because they kept bullshitting me with the Manny Pacquiao fight, and they said, ‘Tank Davis can’t fight in October,’ when I wanted to run it right back, and I had to wait a long time again, and then I went through destructive behaviours again, and just lost my focus. I was just doing everything else in life that wasn’t serving my purpose and serving the sport and how you should run it. Then by the time I got to the Tank fight, I was like, “Ain’t no way I’m backing out now, ‘cause I can’t. I have to go through with this and I have to make this fight happen because, damn, boxing sucks”. That’s what was happening to me, but now that I’ve moved away from LA and I’ve got to Dallas and I’ve been in the gym for months and months and months, I’ve so much focus, and this is the sharpest and best I’ve felt since I was a kid; since I was in 2020. I really feel back to my true self, and I’m excited and happy to be where I’m at right now – to show everybody the performance I’m going to have December 2.

I’m talking about partying. I’m talking about living how I want; not focusing on the sport; being distracted. I don’t do drugs, but I do drink, and I was just having too much fun. Anything you do too much of is going to be bad. I was staying up late; doing whatever I wanted. That wasn’t me, and it was just because I didn’t know how to get back to myself, so I’d go to what I felt comfortable with. That’s how I was filling my void. But being so committed to my training camp, I’ve detoxified from everything. I feel more alive and focused than I’ve felt in so long.

BN: How good a fighter is Davis?

RG: Tank’s alright. He’s not better than me. I don’t care that he beat me; I don’t care what nobody says, he’s not better than me. He caught me on the worst night I could ever have and gave me all those stipulations and all the things he could think of to get an advantage. It’s borderline cheating and shit. He’s alright. He’s a counter-puncher but he don’t throw punches a lot. I’ll beat him next time. I don’t care what anybody says, I’ll beat him next time. Somebody’s gonna beat him. Devin Haney would beat him. Myself, when I get my rematch at 140lbs, would beat him. Shakur [Stevenson] would beat him.

Gervonta Davis floors Ryan Garcia at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada (Getty Images)

BN: How do you reflect on your split with Joe Goossen?

RG: There was a lot of problems. A lot of things leaked in camp. My rib injury leaked in camp – how did that happen? There was three people in the gym. That pissed me off. How’s he not closing up the gym? I go in there and there’s little kids out there training when I’m about to start training. “What is this? This is dumb.” There were little things here and there that kinda pissed me off. In a camp, nothing should be getting leaked at all. We’re professionals. But [Floyd] Mayweather told me – we started chatting it up; started hanging out a little bit [in Vegas, Miami and Hawaii] – he told me some things he did to get that information and I was like, “Wow, okay”. I’m not going to elaborate on that, but it was kind of mind-blowing. “Wow, that’s some bullshit.” We were talking business, and things like that – Mayweather don’t party.

BN: What made you recruit James?

RG: I was led by the Holy Spirit and trusting God. I was asking God, “Who should I go with?”, and he pointed me in the direction of Derrick James. I know he’s a very technical trainer – that’s one of the things I can see maybe I need to clean up on, my technique, so that was one of the reasons as well, and it’s in Texas, a place that I wanted to be at. So everything kind of fell together on Derrick James. “Okay, that’s the guy.” It was a great decision.

[There’s] less distractions [in Dallas, compared to Los Angeles]. You save money on taxes. It’s a lot of things. Good churches out here. LA’s good, but it’s not a place for a fighter to be at, for sure. LA or Miami – you shouldn’t be at any of those places if you’re a fighter. [Dallas] is quiet; it’s calming. All you gotta do is train. There ain’t really nothing to do out here. You can go out, but it’s much harder; it’s not as appealing. You have the choice to really lock in in Dallas. I’ve always liked Texas in general. It’s just a calm environment.

I’ve haven’t really seen Errol [Spence] at the gym, but I’ve seen Frank Martin. We’ve had some conversations about boxing – about things that we know, and we learn. It’s good. You don’t get that often – to talk to good, high-level fighters, and we can discuss what we’re thinking in the ring and how everything’s going, and our training. It’s really cool. I wish [I could spar Martin] but we haven’t got to spar yet because I’m fighting [Oscar] Duarte, which is a right-handed fighter and Frank is a southpaw. We haven’t got to spar, and I don’t even know if Derrick would allow it. We’d start banging and Derrick would be, “Oh, man, y’all not friends anymore”.

We came in here, and he really wanted to emphasise technique. Making sure that my footwork was on point; for the first couple of months we were just all doing technique. We didn’t even throw power shots. We never sparred, We were all doing technique, technique, technique. Now we’re in the gym and we’re free flowing and things are flowing much better. It’s been fundamentals and getting back to the basics, but through that whole process and me being the committed fighter I am and getting to this level of focus – all that mashed together. You’re gonna see something special come December 2nd, and I’m gonna make an example to the 140 division.

BN: How did the defeats Errol Spence and Jermell Charlo suffered to Terence Crawford and Saul “Canelo” Alvarez affect the gym?

RG: Derrick didn’t really dwell on things like that too much. I don’t know Errol’s situation or how he’s feeling – I didn’t get the chance to talk to him – but nothing changes. You gotta get back in the gym, and I know Derrick’s still pretty confident. It didn’t really change the environment for me, but I don’t know how they’re feeling at all.

Nobody really talked about [the defeats] too much. It’s one of those things. We’re boxers; we understand the game; we know how it is. It’s something that doesn’t really need to be talked about. They know what to do. I ain’t gotta tell Charlo how to bounce back, or try to consult him too much. He knows what he probably did wrong, and [how to] fix those things that he may have been doing wrong for that fight.

I think [Spence and Crawford] are going to rematch, and of course Spence can rematch and win. You see fighters get dominated in one fight and then come back and win. [Muhammad] Ali and [Joe] Frazier. Remember Ali came back and won? Sometimes you need to figure it out and go back to the drawing board and then come back and win. I’m confident that he can come back and win.

BN: How is your relationship with your promoter Oscar De La Hoya?

RG: I really haven’t even been spending any time thinking about that. I just been focused on this fight and training and all that. That’s for lawyers and everybody else to think about. I don’t need to think about any of that.

No, not at all [we haven’t tried to mend our relationship]. I seen him at the fight press conference, but other than that, no. I just let the lawyers handle that.

BN: How aware are you of your status as Golden Boy Promotions’ marquee fighter?

RG: I’m aware, of course. I’m the one that’s made them money; I’m the only one that’s really made the money. I understand that; it’s not me for me to understand; it’s for them to understand. They should be treating me like that. I’m aware, of course.

It’s very important. It’s all about setting the tone; letting people know that, “Whatever you thought you see – that’s not me, and this is who’s coming at 140”. It’s making an example. Don’t get me wrong – anything can happen in boxing. But at this level and focus and commitment, I don’t see anyone around, and I’m ready. I’m ready for this fight, and yeah, like I said, it’s about setting the tone for the 140 division. I want to be champion, and I want to takeover from 140 to 147, so that’s my goal. This is where it starts, and that’s my intention.

He has power. He’s knocking people out. It’s not the easiest thing to do; I gotta watch out for his punches. Anything can happen. He’s tough, but I’ve a lot of experience with these types of fighters. I grew up in California – Indio; Coachella; Los Angeles; a lot of Mexican-style fighters – so I’ve seen this before, so my experience and what I know with that is going to take over.

BN: Most recently you’ve been linked with a fight with Teofimo Lopez…

RG: We’ve had some discussions, me and Lupe [Valencia, my lawyer], and we’re talking about it. Derrick mentioned it to him, so we’ll see how that transpires. I’m know they wanted to do the MSG Sphere, and there was talk of that, but that’s not really talked about too much, because there’s another fight right now – December 2 – so we’ll see after December 2 how that transpires. I hope it happens. I’ve been calling him out, and I even messaged him, so we’ll see.