Casual fans are drawn to boxing by the magnetic pull of stars like Muhammad Ali, Sugar Ray Leonard, Mike Tyson, and Floyd Mayweather.
For Ryan Garcia, he possesses all of the qualities to write his name next to those legends. He checks all the boxes for becoming the face of boxing today: good looks, charisma, flashy skills, and a dedicated social media following. All he needs to do to ascend to the next level is prove he can box with the best in the world.
Aside from the “it” factor that Garcia has as a personality, he also boasts a unique blend of speed and power in his punches. Whereas many fighters excel at either one or the other, Garcia has blinding speed in his punches and thunderous power behind them, which makes him deadly.
In this blog breakdown, we will take a very brief look at the story of Ryan Garcia, but the main focus will be on the attributes, techniques, and tactics that have earned Ryan Garcia the nickname “The Flash.”
Background and amateur career
Unlike many boxing world champions, Ryan Garcia did not grow up in a troubled household where boxing was the only way out. In fact, he had a very ordinary upbringing and family.
Starting out training in his uncle’s garage at age 7, Garcia had the full support of his family, who drove him and his younger brother to tournaments all across the west coast of the USA. The effort was well worth it, and Ryan became a 15-time amateur champion with an impressive record of 215–15.
Garcia initially wanted to make the 2016 US Olympic team, but instead, he chose to become a professional in 2006 at just 17 years of age because he needed the money.
Ryan had the skills required to win at amateur boxing, but he felt it was not his game. “I despised the amateurs,” he says. “If I caught the guy with the same type of punch in real life, I knew I’d drop him,” Garcia stated in front of Sports Illustrated.
As expected, knockouts started materializing immediately after Ryan became a pro. He did not wait for the chance to shine and sought out promoters himself, quickly introducing himself to Oscar De La Hoya and his Golden Boy promotions.
De La Hoya instantly recognizes star power when sees it and signed the young American right away. His rapid improvements in his boxing abilities saw him placed under the tutelage of famous trainer Eddy Reynoso, who trains pound-for-pound star Canelo Alvarez and world champion Oscar Valdez in his stable.
Training under Reynoso and alongside Canelo has allowed Garcia to jump from prospect to star. And while there is still a long road ahead of him, things to be improved, and stiffer opposition to be faced, King Ry is already a very high-level boxer at age 24. We can credit some of the maturity and patience seen in Garcia’s fights in his time with Canelo, who is a much more experienced and calculated fighter and has given priceless advice and example to the young Garcia.
However, after some issues outside the ring, Ryan decided to move on and work with legendary trainer Joe Goosen, who had worked with Garcia as a youngster.
Ryan Garcia’s Boxing Style
Ryan Garcia has often been called a boxer-puncher and the most important element of his style is punching speed. He very often relies on his speed and reflexes to overcome technical or tactical deficiencies.
His desire to impress the crowd has sometimes cost him, but in his most recent fights, he has shown more maturity and patience. Let’s get to the meat of this article and look at Ryan Garcia’s boxing style element by element.
Ryan Garcia’s stance is different than most other boxers’. He stands very upright, may I say even a bit stiff. His shoulders are usually relaxed and held low, and the chin is not tucked. This may seem like a bad defensive decision, but it allows Garcia to stay as relaxed as possible, meaning he can also punch as fast as possible.
His upright and well-balanced stance also complements his height advantage. Standing at 5 feet, 10 inches tall, Garcia towers over his fellow 135 and 140-pounders. And likes to use this to his advantage and fight on the outside.
In fact, it’s very rare to see him fighting on the inside. But unlike most long boxers, ‘Kingry‘ does not use much footwork to maintain his distance and keeps opponents on the end of his jab. As fast as his hands are, his footwork is definitely one of the weak spots in his game.
Instead of controlling the distance by moving a lot, Garcia uses his fast combinations to keep opponents at bay and not let them stay at the range they prefer.
Lighting fast combos
Ryan Garcia is very often referred to as having “the fastest hands in boxing,” and this claim has a lot of truth behind it. His machine gun combinations on pads and the cobra bag have been viewed millions of times across social media, and they are a sight to behold. However, they would be meaningless if Ryan was unable to fire at a comparable rate in the heat of battle.
Garcia really is the Flash in the ring. Keeping his shoulder relaxed and his lead hand at chest level allows him to punch with blinding speed. Everything in his punching style is aimed at delivering fast punches, often in combinations.
Throwing a few punches at a time is done to increase the chance of landing, and throwing combinations at the speed. Ryan is very capable of almost ensuring something gets through the guard at some point. As I’ve said before, Garcia likes to keep the opponent at his preferred long distance, and his combinations are his prime way of doing it.
Despite throwing volume combinations at high speeds, Garcia almost always maintains excellent balance and does not overreach. His natural power combined with his speed lets him land with authority without the need to sit or lean on his punches a lot.
His punches at times may look uncommitted because of the lesser movement with the body, but this again ensures the combinations are as fast as possible, and from what we’ve seen, Garcia packs decent knockout power in both his hands. See some of this action below.
The left hook
King Ry’s signature punch is the left hook. It’s his most dangerous weapon and has already claimed quite a few scalps. We’ve talked a lot about the punching speed of Ryan Garcia, but his reflexes are just as quick, and he relies on them for both offense and defense.
Garcia’s left hook is most dangerous when he counters with it, and reflexes are a very big aspect of doing it successfully. Using his reach and reaction, Garcia anticipates the opponent’s intention to step in with a punch and intercepts them with a left hook.
His gorgeous knockout of Francisco Fonseca is the perfect illustration of this executed perfectly. (See below) A lot if not all of Garcia’s opponents have been hurt or knocked out by his check hook stepping slightly back.
King Ry throws his signature punch lightning-fast, without telegraphing or winding up. This hook is not only fast, but it’s deadly accurate as well. Garcia pinpoints it from a long distance, from midrange, and even in a semi-uppercut motion when the opponent ducks too much.
While countering and intercepting opponents with the left hook is Ry’s best use of the punch, it’s far from the only one. He also likes to lead with it from a distance. The speed and length of his left hook leave very few options for his opponents to counter. Then he often chooses to add more punches to that initial left hook and build up combos off of it. Another common setup Ry uses for the left hook is off of his jab.
More recently, Garcia has added another deadly trick, and this is the leading left hook to the body. While starting with a left liver hook from a distance is usually dangerous, Garcia has used it to knock down both Luke Cambell and Javier Fortuna. (see below)
The key to setting it up was the constant threat to the head he posed in the previous rounds. Garcia fires the left hook upstairs again and again, conditioning the opponents to block high as soon as they see him starting to punch. This is when Garcia brings the hook down and digs into the liver. This setup becomes even better when Garcia adds feints to the left hook, further confusing the opponent about what is coming his way.
Framing with the left hand
As a long fighter looking to keep his range, Garcia still has a method of dealing damage from up close. He frequently frames the opponent with his lead forearm, then pushes to create space before stinging with a chopping short right.
He would then either follow up with his left or step back and disengage. A very good example of this comes in the fight with Braulio Rodriguez.
The defense has been Garcia’s only major flaw in his style thus far. While it’s true that Garcia often fights with his chin up and hands low. He also frequently uses a tight high guard when he feels threatened which deserves to be pointed out.
The main defense he employs, though, is distance management. Garcia does not bounce around much, instead moving subtly enough to stay out of range. Taking a small step back and countering with his left hook is where he is most dangerous.
A defensive area we’ve yet to see Garcia improve, or use at all, for that matter, is a lot of head movement.
Areas to improve
The most common criticism of Ryan Garcia is his defense and the fact that he is largely untested at the highest level despite his popularity. Until now, he has passed the tests that were supposed to be tough with flying colors, but The Flash has always relied more on his raw talent and gifts to overcome the opposition.
Garcia is usually so fast that his punches land before those of his opponents, so his opposite hand is usually held low, both to counterbalance him and to be ready to continue the combo, rather than to guard against counters or intercept attacks.
Against Luke, Campbell Ry got dropped and answered furiously, but this again showed that he is there to be hit. I for one, don’t completely agree with all the criticism towards Garcia because many boxers over the years have broken the “rules” and have wrought great success precisely because of their unique style and traits.
Roy Jones Jr also held his hands low, his head high, and used his superior speed to demolish his opponents. Manny Pacquiao also used his attributes and unique style, which defied so many boxing textbook rules.
Bad habits and versatility
So, Garcia’s habits of keeping his hands low and his chin untucked might be defensively irresponsible, but they also let him fight his style of fight. Perhaps the biggest area to improve as he enters the elite levels is knowing when to use this style of fighting and when not to. He will have to employ a more solid defense when needed and then go to full speed when he can afford it.
The final thing that Garcia may want to improve is his attacking variability. His left hook is blindingly fast and deadly accurate, while his combinations are fast and fluid. But outside of that, he is considered one-dimensional, so an elite opponent may be able to capitalize on this fact. But then other fighters also had a small number of weapons, but they used them so well that they didn’t need others.
Will Ryan Garcia be one of those boxers, or will his critics be proven right when he finally faces world champion-caliber fighters? We find out soon enough. But if Garcia continues on his upward trajectory, I am certain he will be one of the brightest stars that can transcend boxing. He sure has what it takes to do it.
Hope you enjoyed this boxing style analysis, why not check out our breakdown on upcoming rival Gervonta Tank Davis? Or you can check out more boxing style analysis here.
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