Ryan Garcia puts rivals on notice with brutal KO of Javier Fortuna

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Ryan Garcia took care of business on Saturday night in Los Angeles. Now comes the hard part.

The lightweight contender dominated veteran Javier Fortuna at Crypto.com Arena, putting him down three times before stopping him 27 seconds into the sixth round of a junior welterweight bout.

It was the kind of statement Garcia (23-0, 19 KOs) hoped to make, as he’s determined to face the best possible opponents at 135 pounds or possibly 140.

His dream opponent is fellow young star and 135-pound contender Gervonta Davis, against whom Garcia believes he can make a fortune and take a giant step toward superstardom.

Of course, the fight won’t be easy to make. Garcia is aligned with Golden Boy Promotions, Davis with Premier Boxing Champions. The fact these are not-so-friendly competing entities would make negotiations complicated.

Garcia made a strong case on Saturday that he has earned the right to face the best in the sport.

He needed 12 rounds to outpoint a reluctant Emmanuel Tagoe in April, his first fight after a 15-month break to deal with his mental health and injuries. He didn’t need half as long to finish off Fortuna, a former secondary 130-pound titleholder.

Garcia, 3½ inches taller than Fortuna, threw his quick, long jab and hard right hands that made the Dominican fighter reticent to throw many punches or take the risks necessary to get inside from the opening bell.

The beginning of the end came halfway through Round 4, when a left to the body hurt Fortuna and forced him to take a knee. After that, he was even more reluctant to engage Garcia.

Garcia decked Fortuna again in Round 5, this time the result of a left to the temple. And he added one final knockdown in Round 6, also from a left to the head that put his beaten opponent onto one knee.

Fortuna spit out his mouthpiece to indicate he was finished moments before referee Jerry Cantu counted him out.

The victory probably wasn’t as significant as Garcia’s seventh-round stoppage of Olympic gold medalist Luke Campell in January of last year given the 33-year-old Fortuna’s obvious limitations.

However, Garcia’s dominance over an experienced, well-known fighter who had been stopped only once before in his 13-year professional career added to the perception that the Southern California fighter is one of the hottest young figures in the sport.