King Ry has changed the way business is done in boxing by combining his massive following with his elite talent.
Ryan Garcia has risen in the boxing world as fast as he hits the cobra bag in one of his Instagram videos. It makes sense, considering his viral training videos and social media content are big reasons why the 25-year-old has ascended at such a rapid rate in a crowded space.
Even still, over seven months after suffering his first professional loss at the hands of Gervonta Davis inside the ring at T-Mobile Arena, Garcia continues to rise. This is no mistake, either, but rather a calculated climb. Garcia, who has a net worth of $20 million according to Celebrity Net Worth, has placed concerted effort into not only his training but also his social media presence.
Consider the following: Garcia boasts 10.3 million followers on Instagram, nearly 4 million more than undefeated Tyson Fury, considered by many to be one of the greatest heavyweight boxers of all time with multiple belts to his name. He even carries more followers than some of the biggest stars in the NBA, such as Damian Lillard, Paul George, Jimmy Butler, and even the reigning MVP, Joel Embiid.
Sure, there’s probably a pride aspect, knowing that many strangers are spending their free time watching you hit a bag or jump some rope. But the biggest reason for that laser-focus on building a strong following? Moolah.
“The earning potential on someone like him is huge,” Joe Gagliese, co-founder of the influencer marketing and talent agency Viral Nation, told The Athletic in 2019. “Take aside the fact that he is a professional athlete. His engagement — he’s getting a million views on average every video. These are the types of things that brands are looking for, and in our world, if you look at a traditional athlete who doesn’t have a big social, and you look at this kid, this kid is probably going to push more value to the brand, both in (return over investment) and general awareness.”
That was in 2019 when Garcia had “just” 3.7 million Instagram followers. It was also well before he had really taken on anyone of note — outside of facing Devin Haney six times at the amateur level, splitting the decisions — with victories over Romero Duno, Luke Campbell, and Javier Fortuna all taking place ahead of his bout with Davis earlier this year.
It’s safe to say that Garcia has realized some of that earning potential since, with room to grow.
Here is a list of some of the brands he has worked with in his career:
- 1800 Tequila
- GMC’s Hummer
Part of Garcia’s changing of the boxing business has been the type of brand he looks to partner with. Boxing is a brutal sport, so you don’t typically think of a fashion house or a skin care product as a natural partner for fighters.
“For me, it’s just staying humble, looking for opportunities that make sense, that align with my morals because a lot of these big brands, sometimes they do funky stuff and I’m not about that,” Garcia said on The ETCs. “I try to align myself with people who still have their morals intact and trying their best to live an honest and fruitful life. So, it’s just looking for those opportunities.
“Good people work with good people, so I try to attract and work with honest-working folks, but also not being judgmental either. I know what it is to be crazy. I know what it is to live chaotic. I’ve done it. So, I’m very understanding as a person as well.”
But the boxing heartthrob mapped out his own game plan — and rising boxers are taking note. At first, many in the industry wanted to wait and see how things would shake out for Garcia on the marketing end. Now, it’s a proven model.
Take Garcia’s most recent fight against Davis, for example. First off, before even taking into account pay-per-view buys or ticket sales, Garcia was set to take home $2.5 million, with Davis set to pocket $5 million as the A-side.
But the real money is in the PPVs, where it was reported that the Garcia-Davis fight sold over 1.2 million. At $85 per PPV, that’s an additional $102 million brought in via this avenue. While a full breakdown is not available, it’s expected that the two fighters were close to a 50/50 split on PPV buys, netting each of them roughly an additional $50 million for this one fight. Oh, and that’s without noting the nearly $23 million in ticket sales.
But boxers making a lot of money in the ring isn’t anything new. Boxing has long been considered one of the more lucrative sports, with some of the best fighters bringing in millions for a single fight that could last all of a round or two.
The first thing that separates Garcia from some in the boxing space is that he isn’t afraid to take the big fight, which is evident by his stepping across from Garcia in April. There’s a stigma in boxing that any blemish on your win-loss record is a death sentence to one’s memory, but for Garcia, that just adds money to his pocket — win, lose, or draw.
“People want to see two good fighters. They don’t want to just see one fighter beating up another guy that they know they’re going to beat; you’re not going to do anything with that [PPV-wise],” Garcia said. “Fights should be huge fights and big fights with big personalities. … If these fighters want to make life-changing money, it takes two to tango and you need to do it the right way. People aren’t falling for it anymore.”
But the second piece of it is the portion that Garcia has down to a T, and it’s that there’s an art to the self-promotion, the marketing. We see it all the time when two fighters try to manufacture some animosity between them in order to build hype leading up to a fight, only to see them console each other afterward, regardless of the result. We saw it with Garcia and Davis, with the former congratulating the latter and giving him his props for the knockout victory.
The difference is Garcia can balance that line of being genuine instead of cringey, which is where many fighters fall victim. Fans can tell when someone is being fake, and even if Garcia plays actor occasionally, his authenticity on social media shines through.
At times, it can appear fake. It’s especially understandable for the boxing diehards who grew up on the grit and grind of a physically taxing sport, only to see fighters these days care more about getting that viral clip or extra likes on a post.
For Garcia, it’s different. It’s simply who he is, and promoters take notice.
“Part of boxing is a business, and if you’re not putting people in seats, what is profitable to the people that put on the fights?” Garcia posed to Boardroom.
There’s no way around it — the boxing business is a greedy one. For fighters, for promoters, for fans. Everybody wants the most that they can get, which leads to a lot of overpriced pay-per-view fights that those who really appreciate the sport will be willing to pay for because, well, they love it.
Garcia recognizes this, which is why this fight against Duarte won’t be a PPV sell. It’ll stream on DAZN, and, sure, you need a subscription to watch, which could still be an annoyance for fans who may not be subscribers just yet.
While DAZN is surely paying some sort of flat fee to Garcia in place of a PPV stake, for Garcia, this is leaving money on the table.
“If I said, ‘No, I need this on pay-per-view,’ they would’ve put it on. But that’s robbing the fans,” Garcia said. “Why would I do that to the fans where now they have to pay me to see somebody you don’t know? … So, I’m not going to do that to the fans. The ones that want to see me fight and make them pay $50, it’s Christmas time. People need to save that money. If you already subscribed, great! And if you want to spend money for the subscription, go ahead.”
Balancing whether a fight should be offered via PPV or streaming has been an ongoing battle in boxing. Just ask HBO or Showtime. Both were big names when it came to airing some of boxing’s biggest bouts, and both have since gone belly-up in a tumultuous industry.
Some of that is due to greed on the corporate side, with many promotions being close-minded to the idea of working with one another. But if you ask Garcia, he just wants to look out for his own.
“I think that the goal of the sport is for the boxers to take more control, take more of the driver’s seat,” Garcia said. “I think that I prove to everybody, by the way that I market myself and the way that I position myself in the sport, that you have more control than you think.
“And, I think that we need [to set a precedent] that boxers are the driving force of this sport. Promoters need to be open to expanding their minds and stop being stuck in the ’90s and the 2000 [or] 2010 blueprint of accosting the sport’s fans because they don’t want to work with each other and it becomes a monopoly type of thing. We need to come together.”
So, while boxing champions come and go, as do some of the companies that have made money from airing their fights, Ryan remains. And thanks to the following and brand partnerships he’s built through his own content, Garcia will always be an attraction, whether you like it or not.
Personally, Ryan feels he’s accomplished all that he needs to in that self-promotion arena. It doesn’t matter whether it’s a rematch with Davis or the first professional fight against Haney or a tussle with Teofimo Lopez or Shakur Stevenson. No matter who steps up against Ryan next, both fighters’ earnings will be maximized thanks to Garcia’s groundwork.
But he told Boardroom his mindset has shifted, and he hopes to run the 140-pound division sooner rather than later.
“You’re going to see some Goku shit … I feel like this is the best version of me and it’s going to be something that you see a mix of,” Garcia said. “When I was on that come-up, I was on that rise and I was on point — in the zone, just on top of it. [My] speed was insane. You’re going to see that, but you’re also going to see a more polished run technique, skill, determination, grit.
“Just knowing the game, the ins and outs. You’re going to see a polished super Ryan. … I’m here to show I’m setting a tone for the 140 division. This is the Ryan you’re going to get. Get ready because I’m not playing and I’m not letting up after this day. You’re going to see this going all the way through. I don’t know how long the career is going to last. I don’t know how many world titles, but I’m hungry. And this is the Ryan you’re going to see moving forward.”
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