Ryan Garcia aiming for directing Academy Award after a short but sweet career in boxing

He’s only 21 years old and yet to have what could truly be called a significant fight, but Ryan Garcia has long ago learned how to make boxing work for him.

He combined his looks and personality to build a popular Instagram account, where he has more than 4.8 million followers. He has roughly the combined total of WBC heavyweight champion Deontay Wilder (2.5 million) and lineal champion Tyson Fury (2.5 million) who meet on Feb. 22 in the year’s biggest fight to date.

Garcia will face the biggest fight of his career on Friday (9 p.m. ET, DAZN) when he squares off against Francisco Fonseca in a Valentine’s Day battle at the Honda Center in Anaheim, California.

But though the big fights, ones against Devin Haney, Teofimo Lopez and Gervonta Davis have yet to progress past the theoretical stage, he’s already working toward his post-boxing future.

Much like his promoter, Oscar De La Hoya, did a generation earlier, Garcia wants to leverage his popularity. But while there are many parallels between De La Hoya and Garcia, Garcia wants to forge his own path, and even at the tender age of 21, he’s taking steps to do just that.

“I guess you could say there are similarities with my story and Oscar’s story, and you know what they say, that history repeats itself,” Garcia said. “But I’m trying to change history a little bit myself. I want to leave my own legacy and write my own story. This is my journey and it’s unique to me. What I want to leave is I want to be one of the first fighters to beat all of the other best fighters right now while they’re still in their primes.

“I want to get out of here by 26 (years old) and I want to do something amazing. I want to become a movie director and win an Academy Award. That’s what I’m trying to do. Everything takes a vision and I have a very definitive vision of what my future will be like, in the ring and then outside of it.”

Fonseca bout a good gauge for Garcia’s progress

He had a rocky 2019, as he battled with De La Hoya and Golden Boy even as he began to train with the highly regarded Eddy Reynoso, the 2019 Yahoo Sports Trainer of the Year.

He resolved his issues with De La Hoya and signed a new contract. He showed during his Nov. 2 knockout of Romero Duno that Reynoso has had an obvious impact upon him.

Garcia’s always been a fast-handed fighter, but his speed was blazing. He set up his punches and his shots were short, fast and accurate. Duno, who was expected to give him a hard time, was finished in just 98 seconds.

Fonseca has already fought Davis and former world champion Tevin Farmer, so he’ll be a measuring stick for Garcia’s progress. Garcia said he wants to meet all of the elite welterweights as soon as possible.

He had sharp words for many of them, but toned down the rhetoric on Lopez. Lopez knocked out Richard Commey in December to become IBF lightweight champion and will face a unification fight in the spring with Vasiliy Lomachenko.

“These guys, Tank [Davis], Devin Haney, they all have a lot of catching up to do with me,” said Garcia, who is 19-0 with 16 KOs. “They have fake titles that were basically given to them. I have to be fair. I truly believe Teofimo legitimately won his world title. He went up through the ranks and beat a legit champion and he’s got a great fight coming up with Loma.

“But I think I’ve separated myself from those other guys. I don’t believe Gervonta is a real champion. He fought Yuriorkis] Gamboa, who was like 40 with a torn [Achilles] when they fought. He wasn’t the same fighter at all that he had been. That’s a gift. Devin Haney didn’t beat anyone. I mean, come on, look at that guy [Zaur Abdullaev] he fought. Really? I believe I’ve separated myself, and I continue to do so.”

But if he sticks to his plan, he won’t have that long, illustrious career that fighters like De La Hoya, Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao have had. Pacquiao, remarkably, has held a world title in four decades.

Garcia wants to get all of the big fights in during a five-year span and then move on to making movies. Though he hasn’t taken classes, he’s speaking with people in the industry that he’s met. He picks their brains and is looking for guidance.

“I’ve talked to a lot of people, and they’re not the really big-name directors, but they’re people with experience in this industry who know what they’re doing who are trying to help me learn what I need,” Garcia said. “They tell me about working the cameras and little technical things.

“The thing is, I don’t do anything part way, so I can’t commit to that now like I would want to. My boxing career takes precedence. I’m putting everything I have into my boxing career so I get everything out of it I possibly can. When you look at me, I think it’s pretty obvious I’m better every day. So I’m going to continue to make that commitment and when 26 comes, I’m out and I’m on to try to chase that next goal and get that [Academy Award].”

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