By Paul Magno | April 25, 2023

Whenever a boxer takes a knee and stays down, the label “quitter” gets tossed about. 

Some fans will invariably jump in and call the fighter a “quitter” and curb stomp his courage/desire/warrior spirit/etc. Then, others will jump in with the “If you ever took a punch like that, you’d know…” counter. It’s part of the never-ending cycle of boxing fandom exaggeration and general snippiness.  

Well, we all saw Ryan Garcia go down from the Gervonta Davis body shot on Saturday and we all saw him stay down. There’s no doubt it was a REAL punch placed in a very vulnerable spot. There’s no doubt that Garcia was legitimately hurt and debilitated. There should also be no doubt that Garcia could’ve beaten the count if he had wanted to.

I mean, seriously, if he was able to get up at the count of 10.1, he would’ve been able to get up at the count of 9.9. And, yeah, before some media creep virtue signals in my direction, I HAVE been hit with big body shots and I have felt the body-buzzing pain that comes immediately afterward. 

If we’re being literal, though, Ryan Garcia DID quit. And so fucking what?

He was hurt, things were not going well, and he had no answers to keep things from getting worse. Pulling himself out of the fight was a reasonable response to what appeared to be an unwinnable predicament. The only alternative was to stay in there and take more punishment, half-debilitated from that shot, because some slob on social media might call him a coward. 

Garcia could've gotten up to fight, even if it was for just a few more seconds. He could’ve gone out on his shield, pounded down, but unbending. But the 24-year-old behaved like who he is-- a smart kid with options in life, other than fighting.

And that’s what I always saw as the fatal flaw when it came to Garcia and his long-term future in the sport. Garcia has god-given talent-- enough of it to beat 99% of those matched up against him-- but he doesn't appear to have that desperate hunger great fighters have, at least not in the area of humbling oneself in the gym to truly learn the craft. He didn't HAVE to fight, ever. So, he never allowed himself to become that soldier all great fighters need to be. He had the flexibility in life to come and go from the gym as he pleased-- and based on stories I’ve heard and his obvious deficiencies in gym-honed fundamentals/tactical approaches-- he HAS exercised that privilege. In this Davis fight and before, he behaved like most "normal" people would: "Shit, I got my money...I ain't gotta take this kind of punishment...I'm gonna go home, be rich, and get my ass out of this fire.”

As I wrote in my pre-fight “Beyond the Tangibles” piece on Garcia:

“...I knew I was right on the money with that assessment when Garcia’s present tense trainer, Goossen, made the following statement in a recent interview:

‘You don't necessarily train Ryan Garcia, you have to collaborate with him because he has his ideas and thoughts…’

So, yeah, it’s never a good thing when a young, developing fighter has somehow talked himself into the notion (or has been talked into the notion) that his flawed fundamentals are actually a ring ‘style.’ Raw talent will take you far in boxing, but you can’t break into the elite class of the sport without the seasoning that can only be found in long, rough, not-at-all glamorous gym work. 

Garcia was a star in his own world well before fighting on any boxing main stage and it’s tough training a star to be a fighter.”

It should also be taken into consideration that Garcia is a product of his time, part of a new generation of fighter, raised on MMA/UFC, where tapping out is not an affront to one’s masculinity as it still is in the boxing world.

But, having said all of the above, Garcia DID legitimately want this fight...he wanted the heat...and he legitimately believed in himself. He certainly talked the talk and walked the walk of a “real” one coming into this fight. He just didn’t know what he didn’t know-- until he saw it first-hand. He skimped, to varying degrees, on many of the little intricacies that go into building elite-level skill and he paid the price. 

In the Showtime All Access leading up to this fight, Garcia, himself, referred to boxing as the most truthful sport in the world and that a lie would ultimately be “exposed in the ring.” In boxing, a missed lesson in the gym will almost always result in a learned lesson in the ring.

Garcia was taught a lesson on Saturday and he had the presence of mind to pull himself out of the fire to fight another day.

It’s totally fine to say that the kid quit and that it, honestly, was the right thing for him to do. Now, it’s up to him whether he wants to take this humbling learning experience, head back to the gym, and get to work.

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