Junior lightweight Ryan Garcia, the 2017 ESPN.com prospect of the year, is ready to kick off his 2018 campaign.
Garcia will face Fernando Vargas in a 10-round bout that will headline a Golden Boy Boxing on ESPN card on March 22 at the Fantasy Springs Resort Casino in Indio, California, Golden Boy announced on Thursday.
The card will air live on ESPN and ESPN Deportes beginning at 9 p.m. ET with ESPN3 streaming additional preliminary bouts beginning at 7:30 p.m. ET.
Garcia (13-0, 12 KOs), 19, of Victorville, California, was a standout amateur (215-15 with 15 national titles), turned pro at age 17 and went 6-0 in 2017. He won each fight by knockout on his way to prospect of the year honors.
Now Garcia is looking forward to elevating his career to the next level this year.
"I'm excited to fight on ESPN in my first main event fight," Garcia said. "I look forward to showing the fans a great fight as I continue to build the 'Kingry Army.' This is a big responsibility, and I appreciate the trust and confidence Golden Boy Promotions has in me. This March 22, I will not disappoint."
Golden Boy Promotions CEO Oscar De La Hoya has viewed Garcia as his company's next big star from the moment he signed him.
"I have said from the minute we signed him that Ryan Garcia has the potential to be the next megastar in the sport of boxing," De La Hoya said. "Ryan is charismatic, has an incredible amateur pedigree and has one-punch knockout power. He is the real deal."
Vargas (32-13-3, 21 KOs), 29, of Mexico, has won two fights in a row and is a step up in competition for Garcia. Vargas is vastly experienced, having faced several good fighters, including Jamie McDonnell and Wilfredo Vazquez Jr., both of whom have won world titles.
"We are ready to take on this big challenge," Vargas said. "We know that Ryan is a good fighter and that he is following in the footsteps of Oscar De La Hoya. We know that the fight is tough, but winning it is not impossible. We will come well prepared and ready for the upset."
In the co-feature, KeAndre Gibson (18-1-1, 7 KOs), 27, of St. Louis, and Eddie Gomez (20-3, 11 KOs), 25, of Bronx, New York, will meet in a 10-round welterweight fight. They both fought the same opponent in their last fight, with Gibson winning a majority decision against Alejandro Barrera in October and Gomez losing a split decision to him in July.
The card will also include featherweight prospect Joet Gonzalez (18-0, 10 KOs), 24, of Glendora, California, facing Rolando Magbanua (28-6, 20 KOs), 32, of the Philippines in a 10-rounder.