Ryan Garcia Headlines Thursday’s Show on ESPN From Fantasy Springs

Ryan “KingRy” Garcia strode through a sea of reporters at a media workout handling questions and interviews surprisingly adroit for a prizefighter with less than two years of experience.

Confidence can do that.

Armed with undeniable confidence Garcia (13-0, 12 KOs) faces Fernando Vargas (32-13-3) in the main event at Fantasy Springs Casino on Thursday, March 22. The Golden Boy Promotions main event for the Junior NABF super featherweight title will be televised by ESPN2.

Very few 19-year-old prizefighters are featured in a main event. Those few in the past who were able to reach main event status as quickly have been Olympians like Oscar De La Hoya or the progeny of celebrities such as Freeda Foreman.

But when you have an arsenal of fighting tools such as Garcia wields and have sliced through opponents like a Ginsu knife, the fans let the promoters know who they want to see. Garcia has been tabbed for stardom.

With more than 500,000 fans on one of his social media accounts and female followers sending him love notes on a daily basis, it’s clear Garcia has appeal.

“Times have changed, everybody is on their phones and I want to interact with fans,” says Garcia who has several social media accounts.

But can he fight?

Of the 13 opponents he has faced as a professional only one has heard the final bell and that took place in Mexico in his fourth pro fight. The opponent was down several times but allowed to continue. Garcia was only 17.

“They loved me over there in Mexico,” said Garcia about his four bouts south of the border. “Great fighters come out of Mexico. I have nothing but respect for Mexican fighters.”

Next for Garcia will be yet another Mexican fighter named Vargas who fights out of Tijuana.

A veteran of 48 pro bouts, Vargas, 29, has experience against elite fighters such as Wilfredo Vazquez Jr. and fought for the WBA world title against England’s Jamie McDonnell in 2016.

Garcia loves the competition and he has a warning for those fighting him in the future.

“Catch me now because I’m going to bring pain to my opponents,” says Garcia.

Is this just the beginning?

Joet and Emilio

Twenty-four year old featherweight prospect Joet Gonzalez (18-0, 10 KOs) meets Rolando Magbanua (28-6, 20 KOs) in a semi-main event that pits two bangers in a showdown.

Gonzalez knows all about the dangers of facing a hard-hitting Filipino like Magbanua who has participated in nine consecutive fights that ended by knockout- either he knocked them out or he was the victim. It’s like a game of Russian roulette.

“I just want to fight the best. He’s a Filipino fighter. These Filipinos are giving some of the Golden Boy prospects trouble,” said Gonzalez who began boxing at 10 years old who got hooked on boxing after watching Oscar De La Hoya versus Fernando Vargas in 2002. “I’ve been developing more and I think I’ve almost reached my peak. I’m stronger and faster.”

Emilio Sanchez (15-0, 10 KOs) clashes with Eugene Lagos (12-5-2, 7 KOs) in a super bantamweight match up. Regardless of who he fights, Sanchez feels ready for anything. But adds there is a big difference between amateurs and pros.

“You need to pick your punches in the pros, you don’t want to get countered with a big punch,” said Sanchez who began boxing at age 11. “I’ve been sparring with Oscar Valdez and Jessie Magdaleno. I’m excited to be on this card.”

Sanchez faces a veteran from the Philippines in Lagos who lost a decision last month to Ray Ximenez. He also faced top contenders in the past like Mexico’s Cesar Juarez.  It’s a very strong test for the featherweight from Pacoima.

Both Sanchez and Gonzalez are managed by Frank Espinoza.

Other Bouts

Ireland’s highly decorated Aaron McKenna meets Saul Palacios in a welterweight swing bout; Keandre Gibson fights Eddie Gomez in a welterweight clash, Jonathan Navarro meets Gabriel Gutierrez in a super lightweight contest and Raul Curiel battles Latavious Green in a welterweight bout.

Julio Cesar Chavez

Mexican great Julio Cesar Chavez will be in attendance at Fantasy Springs Casino and will sign autographs and take selfies with fans beginning at 6 p.m. during the fight card. Chavez will be watching the fights after signing.

Doors open at 4 p.m. For more information call (800) 827-2946.

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