Ryan Garcia faces perhaps his most difficult challenge when he faces Javier Fortuna at Crypto.com Arena in Los Angeles on Saturday night (DAZN, 8 p.m. ET).
For Garcia (22-0, 18 KO), of Victorville, California, and Fortuna (37-3-1, 26 KO), from the Dominican Republic, this 12-rounder is a rescheduling of a lightweight bout that was supposed to happen in 2021, but was postponed when Garcia withdrew to address his mental health.
So what might happen when the two of them get in the ring? WBO and IBF women's junior lightweight champion Mikaela Mayer evaluates the strengths and weaknesses in both fighters and how she sees things playing out.
Editor's note: Responses have been edited for brevity and clarity.
What are Ryan Garcia's strengths?
He has height and reach advantages over Fortuna, and he knows how to control distance. He has great speed, a great lead jab and a great left hook, which is going to favor him in this fight because going up against someone like Fortuna -- a lefty -- he is open for that hook all day.
I think Garcia naturally loves that hook, loves that jab. Sometimes he gets away from that jab a little bit. I'd like to see him really keep that jab in Fortuna's face and keep him on the outside, but he's comfortable throwing that hook. If Garcia's team ha been watching Fortuna, they have to know when Fortuna lets his hands go, he sort of sits on the outside and then waits to attack, and then when he does attack, it's not a very tight attack. He's open. He can get caught in between his offense.
I expect Garcia and trainer Joe Goossen to have looked at that and I think they are going to plan on holding their ground and just catching him with a big left hook. Maybe to the body because Fortuna is a little bit shorter so he doesn't want to be missing. He wants to dig right at the shoulder.
What are Javier Fortuna's strengths?
Fortuna is a little bit unorthodox. He gets a little bit dirty in the ring. He's fought 20 more times than Garcia has, so he does have that experience on his side. He lets his hands go and he's going to have to do that against someone like Garcia because he's not going to want to stand on the outside with him. He's got to let his hands go.
One thing about Garcia is sometimes he can be a little bit straight up. That's my biggest thing about him. His chin doesn't stay tucked and he's very straight up and his feet kind of come together once in a while. So in order to throw him off his game, Fortuna really needs to keep that pressure on. Don't stand on the outside like he tends to do with some people because Garcia will pick him apart with the jab all day.
What are Garcia's weaknesses?
As I just mentioned, Garcia's biggest weakness is him being straight up with his chin dead in the air. I even noticed this on social media when he's training. I don't know why it's something the trainers haven't seen or corrected. My coach, Al Mitchell, makes me tuck my chin when I jump rope. Like, "Tuck your chin!" And I'm like, "Oh my god, OK."
So his chin is dead in the air and he's gotten caught before. It's kind of like how Luke Campbell caught him and knocked him down. You could see how straight up he is. He's vulnerable for that and I'm sure Fortuna's team is looking at that.
He also tends to hop straight back sometimes and when you hop straight back, the combination of hopping straight back while also being straight up in the air, that's how you can also get caught.
What are Fortuna's weaknesses?
Compared to Garcia, he doesn't have a ton of speed. He applies pressure but it's not necessarily the smartest form of pressure. He tends to hang out on the outside until he's ready to attack and when he attacks, he sort of leaks in with his punches and they are wide. He can get caught in between punches when he's attacking. He tends to keep his hands low and he doesn't have a super-tight defense. That's going to make him vulnerable to that left hook from Garcia.
He sits back on the outside with his earmuffs (hands against his ears) on and he's looking for the attack, but when he attacks, his punches can be wide. They don't come right down the middle. And when you're wide and slow, that's when you get caught. I think he's not as fast as Garcia and that's where he's going to be vulnerable, when he's throwing.
How does Garcia win?
He needs to stay behind that jab. Sometimes he gets away from the jab in the second half of fights but he's got a great, fast jab. Jabbing and then feinting and coming around with the hook. Once he gets that jab going in his face, he can fake the jab and come around with the big left hook, which I think is his bread and butter. Also using his height and reach advantage. Because Fortuna can get a little dirty and rough on the inside, I don't think Garcia really needs to be hanging in there with him. He has a sharp enough jab to stay back on the outside and pick him apart.
How does Fortuna win?
He has to continue to press Garcia. He can't sit on the outside like he does and kind of counter that jab and come in. He has to punch while Garcia is punching because Garcia's too fast. He can't think, "Let me block the punch and then fire off." Garcia's going to be out of the way. He's got to catch Garcia while he's punching and just don't let him get in his rhythm. Continue to press him. Keep that punch count up and just get his feet thrown off.
It's Garcia's speed. Fortuna just can't match it and I think that's where Garcia's power comes in because he's got those fast hands and that fast whipping hook. So, I really think he's going to be able to just catch Fortuna with that. That's how I see it ending, one left hook.
I see Garcia stopping Fortuna. The speed and the power that he has will be the difference. The power comes from that speed, the force and the speed. I just think that Fortuna isn't the smartest when it comes to attacks and he leaves himself open. Eventually he's going to get caught with the left hook. I think Garcia wins by knockout, I don't have a round, but Garcia has been coming out quickly his last few fights. He puts the pressure on, even though he's a taller, rangier boxer. I sort of see him doing that again and I think the stoppage will probably come in the first half of the fight.