Ryan Garcia: 'It's time for me to come into my own' after leaving Team Canelo

A couple of texts exchanged and roughly five minutes is all it takes for Ryan Garcia to embark down the southern California coastline for a trip with no exact destination.

It's the favorite part of Garcia's first official training camp under new trainer Joe Goossen, who lives close enough to Garcia in the San Diego area that whenever Garcia says the word, Goossen will pick him up in a Lincoln hybrid that is no longer manufactured and go on a drive to chat.

On these drives, boxing is rarely discussed. With Goossen behind the wheel, his new protege gets life lessons as they create a bond far more than the typical boxer-trainer relationship. After Garcia's past few years, that relationship and stability is something he craves.

Garcia, one of the sport's most prominent yet unproven contenders, is in the midst of a turning point in his career. After a five-fight run under the wing of pound-for-pound star Canelo Alvarez and their mutual trainer, Eddy Reynoso, the 23-year-old lightweight is doing something new. Garcia cited Reynoso's unavailability as the main reason he switched trainers, telling ESPN's "Max on Boxing" that Reynoso "didn't really have time to train me."

The change appeared to be in motion for a while. In an Oct. 2021 interview with Complex, Alvarez had concerns over Garcia's work ethic.

"Look, Ryan has a lot of talent," Alvarez said. "But to me in my eyes, he's wasting a lot of time and wasting his talent. I look at him and don't see him 100% dedicated and, to us, that's a bad signal."

Four months later Garcia announced the split from Team Canelo, something that he felt has been discussed enough in the weeks leading up to the comeback fight against Emmanuel Tagoe (32-1, 15 KOs). Reynoso's unavailability also led welterweight contender Vergil Ortiz Jr. to leave his gym. He is now training under Manny Robles.

That lack of availability led Garcia to Goossen, who had worked with Garcia in the past and made a significant offer to train him when he turned pro and signed with Golden Boy Promotions, Goossen said.

Starting on Saturday night at the Alamodome in San Antonio (DAZN, 9 p.m. ET), Garcia can begin to provide some emphatic answers about his commitment to the sport and prove that even away from Team Canelo, he has a championship trajectory.

"I did a lot of great things in those five fights that I had with Eddy [Reynoso]," Garcia told ESPN. "And I'm grateful for it. And this new chapter is obviously my chapter, right? Now it's time for me to come into my own."

In Goossen, Garcia gained a trainer who has a reputation among his friends for picking up his phone at all hours of the night.

"He knows that I'm always ready," Goossen said. "Always ready to roll."

That difference between Goossen and Reynoso hasn't been the only indirect rebuttal to the claims and concerns following Garcia's split with Team Canelo.

Goossen, a 68-year-old veteran with several decades in the sport, praised Garcia's work ethic as one of the best Goossen has seen firsthand. Goossen also said Garcia hurt every sparring partner during camp. That bodes well for Garcia's status as an overwhelming favorite against Tagoe, a Ghanaian who hasn't fought since Nov. 2020.

"There's never enough miles on the road," Goossen said. "Never enough rounds in the gym. Never enough rounds in sparring for him. He just gobbles it up and is just amazing."

And even if Garcia didn't acknowledge it directly, he's well aware of the criticism that has surrounded him. Up until his victory over Campbell, Garcia's outsized following on social media had outpaced his boxing career. The inactivity since that bout and the comments from Alvarez and others have amplified the criticism.

None of that has been lost on Garcia, who after defeating Luke Campbell by TKO decided to take time to address his mental health, followed by a hand injury that needed surgery.

"There's definitely a lot of things that were said about me, obviously, when I was on my break and the things that I had to go through," Garcia said. "But I ride it. I ride it like a wave. Because when I win the fight, you're going to see everybody creeping back in, trying to be all cool."

Garcia no longer has the affiliation with Alvarez, boxing's top attraction. The lightweight contender, like many others, isn't sure how that will affect his perception around the sport. But in the current chapter of his career, Garcia is perfectly comfortable with that.

"People are going to talk," he said. "There's going to be a lot of opinions. But I'm in control of my story by the way I perform. I'm happy to be anything people want to say I am because I know who I am. So I'm ready."