LAS VEGAS, Nevada, November 1, 2019 – After a rough summer full of spats outside the ring, lightweight “King” Ryan Garcia of Los Angeles (18-0, 15 KOs) is all smiles awaiting his fight inside the ring as the co-main event on Saturday on the Canelo Alvarez vs. Sergey Kovalev bout in Las Vegas.
Ryan Garcia: more than a pretty Instagram face
Ryan Garcia will face Romero Duno of the Philippines (21-1, 16 KOs), also based now in Los Angeles, a name involved in the summer drama. After Garcia’s scheduled September 14 opponent was arrested, Duno was floated as the replacement. Garcia refused over financial issues but was accused of ducking the Filipino fighter – to the point Duno wore a t-shirt after his victory against Ivan Delgado calling out Garcia. Garcia ended up off the card entirely.
Garcia’s social media presence colors his athletic career in both positive and negative ways. His impressive influencer status makes him a draw, but it’s racing ahead of his skillset development in the ring. Garcia is still just 21-year-old, and being made to struggle with high expectations most young professional boxers wouldn’t need to deal with.
In a recent face-off interview carried live on Facebook Watch, Garcia and Duno made their case for a win on Saturday.
“I don’t want to fight old veterans, I don’t want to fight ex-champions that are already washed up,” said Garcia. “I want to show everyone what I’m made of, and this is the perfect fight to do this. We’re two young fighters. What other young fighter is doing this?”
Duno determined to deal out the punishment
Duno said a win over Garcia would mean a lot to him. “I know that Ryan is very famous, and there are a lot of people who think I can’t beat him. I need to show them that I can fight against a fast boxer like him. It’s going to be a tough fight.”
Ryan Garcia can reassure his promoter and the boxing world he’s got it all together with his performance against stablemate Duno on Saturday. In his earliest fights, Garcia made an impression with his hand speed and punching power. As his opponents have improved, the flashy knockout wins are harder to come by. While it’s tempting to blame Instagram and Twitter, it’s simply the natural development cycle of an unnaturally talented fighter.
But a loss can happen quickly, and Garcia needs to focus on craft right now as he starts the next phase of his athletic career. Duno is a durable, determined fighter with a good win under his belt against Ivan Delgado. Garcia represents a major step up for Duno, and it’s the right test at the right time for both. The edge goes to Garcia who should win; whether he wins in a big way is the bigger question. A knockout victory means more than just the WBC Silver Lightweight title at stake; it means a step toward boxing legitimacy.
Undercard cheat sheet: Estrada vs Esparza, Cobbs vs Cervantes, Evan Holyfield debut
Fans who like their fighters to demonstrate a killer attitude will love the clash between flyweights Seniesa “Superbad” Estrada of Los Angeles (17-0, 7 KOs) and Marlen Esparza of Houston (7-0, 1 KO), who fight for the interim WBA World Flyweight title. These women aren’t simply fronting for the cameras. They truly dislike each other. Their burning social media dialogue will now spill into the ring.
Esparza, a 2016 Olympic bronze medalist, faces by far the toughest opponent of her career in Estrada, who came up the hard way in the Southern California boxing scene. Esparza is far better known, but this is likely to change for fans who haven’t been exposed to the hard-hitting Estrada. She’s developed impressive power and is bringing a five-fight stoppage streak into this bout.
The women will fight three-minute rounds, a decided advantage for Estrada. Prepare to be impressed if you haven’t seen a lot of women professionals. Don’t schedule a snack break during this fight.
Behold the flair of Blair Cobbs
For sheer boxing entertainment value, you can’t do better than braggadocious Blair “The Flair” Cobbs of Las Vegas (12-0, 8 KOs). The southpaw welterweight faces Carlos Ortiz Cervantes (11-4, 11 KOs) of Mexico. Cobbs dresses like Lenny Kravitz and sounds like his idol Ric Flair, the legendary wrestling showman, complete with the trademark “Woooo!” punctuating his comments.
Cobbs is so genuinely likable and eager to please, it’s impossible not to root for him. He’s throwing the party and he wants you right there with him. But he needs to keep delivering in the ring to keep the party going, and the 29-year-old can be awfully reckless and rough around the edges. Admittedly it makes him darned entertaining in the ring, as in his last fight when he had to survive a sixth-round knockdown to deliver a ninth-round knockout win. Even if the fight is a snooze, stay for the post-fight comments.
Evan Holyfield launches his own legacy Saturday
Making his professional debut on the card is Evan Holyfield of Houston. Yes, he’s the 22-year-old son of Evander Holyfield, perhaps the best cruiserweight in boxing history and boxing’s only two-division undisputed champion. Holyfield faces Nick Winstead of Louisiana (0-1) and it’s not hard to see the outcome in advance. Evan will certainly make his father proud of his debut.
Holyfield participated in multiple sports through high school and enjoyed a solid amateur career before turning pro and signing with his father’s former promoter, Main Events. Holyfield is a six-foot-tall super welterweight who knows he’ll be moving up multiple divisions as his career progresses. He understands the legacy of his name, but as he says, “I get it – my name is Holyfield. It’s always been my name. My goal is to be the best version of myself I can be.”
Additional fights on the undercard
Super welterweight Bakhram Murtazaliev of Russia (16-0, 13 KOs) faces Jorge Fortea of Spain (20-1, 6 KOs).
Middleweight Meerim Nursultanov of Kazahkstan (12-0, 8 KOs) takes on Cristian Olivas of San Ysidro, California (16-5, 13 KOs). Nursultanov and Murtazaliev both train at the Boxing Laboratory in Oxnard, California, and continue to build on impressive performances.
Heavyweight prospect Betemir Melikuziev of Uzbekistan (2-0, 2 KOs) fights Clay Collard of Utah (4-1-3, 1 KO). Melikuziev is training with the Diaz brothers in Indio, California.
Impressive young Tristran Kalkreuth of Texas (2-0, 2 KOs) fights Twon Smith of Oklahoma City 3-3, 2 KOs). At 32, Smith is 15 years older than the 17-year-old Kalkrueth. It’s the opportunity to see fighters like Kalkrueth and Evan Holyfield that make it worth getting to the arena early and firing up your screen to see stars in the making in the early hours.
Undercard fights on the Canelo vs. Kovalev card begin at 6:30 pm ET/3:30 p.m. PT Saturday, November 2 on DAZN USA.
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