Ryan Garcia receives widespread support after mental health issues cause him to pull out of Javier Fortuna fight

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Ryan Garcia has withdrawn from his fight with Javier Fortuna on July 9 due to struggles with his mental health.

The 22-year-old lightweight shot to stardom in recent years, first becoming a social media sensation before then establishing himself as a legitimate world class boxing contender.

Garcia is taking a break from boxing

Tom Hogan – Hogan Photos/Golden Boy

Garcia is taking a break from boxing

His January 2 triumph over Luke Campbell was a career-best win and set to be followed up by another solid test.

Javier Fortuna was chosen as the opponent and July 9 announced as the date earlier this month.

However, Garcia has now posted the following statement: “I know this news may be disappointing to some of my fans but I am announcing today that I am withdrawing from my July 9 fight.

“At this time it is important to manage my health and wellbeing.

“I have decided to take some time off to focus on becoming a stronger version of myself.

“I hope to be back soon and am looking forward to stepping back into the ring when I am my healthiest self.

“I want to thank God, my family, my doctors and my supporters.”

Fortuna’s promoter Sampson Lewkowicz gave additional information to Ring Magazine.

He explained: “Eric [Gomez, of Golden Boy] called me this morning and said [Garcia] has mental health issues and that he decided not to fight.”

Garcia’s decision to withdraw from a fight for this reason is a rare situation within boxing – a sport where macho qualities are typically prized and any perceived weaknesses buried.

The 22-year-old has a refreshingly different attitude and previously discussed his struggles with anxiety in an exclusive interview with talkSPORT.com.

Garcia said back in December: “When I was 17, that’s when I really was going through that extreme anxiety with panic attacks.

Garcia showed true toughness and grit to overcome Campbell in his last fight

Tom Hogan – Hogan Photos/Golden Boy

Garcia showed true toughness and grit to overcome Campbell in his last fight

“I didn’t know what anxiety was, but anxiety to me is a double-edged sword.

“It can be good if you know how to cope with it and it can be very bad if you don’t know what it is.

“When I was 17 I had no clue what it was and through that journey of figuring out what anxiety was, I learned more about myself.

“Emotionally I know what triggers me and just mentally I know what triggers me.

“You become a stronger person when you talk about anxiety and that’s what I wanted to share to people.”

Tyson Fury’s comeback and mental health story may well have played a part in boxing’s changing attitudes towards the issue

Mikey Williams/Top Rank

Tyson Fury’s comeback and mental health story may well have played a part in boxing’s changing attitudes towards the issue

Now it sadly appears Garcia is encountering further issues.

Remarkably though, the community with the typically hardened sport of boxing has offered widespread support.

As recently as 10 or 20 years ago, this would likely have been a different story, but with modern attitudes to mental health changing, Garcia’s announcement was met with praise rather than scorn.

His promoter Oscar De La Hoya said: “The health of our fighters is of the utmost importance to us at Golden Boy.

“We wholeheartedly support Ryan Garcia and wish him the best during this time.”

Garcia is promoted by De La Hoya

Tom Hogan – Hogan Photos/Golden Boy

Garcia is promoted by De La Hoya

A statement from the WBC added: “President Mauricio Sulaiman and the WBC offer Ryan Garcia our full support and endorse his decision to attend to his personal issues.

“We are now, as always in his corner.

“The COVID pandemic has brought unimaginable problems to us all, and he, like the rest of humanity, has been greatly affected.

“With Mental Health Awareness Month coming in May, the WBC will work diligently to reinforce its awareness program worldwide.

“Ryan’s courageous decision to step aside at this time, has emphasised the fact that no one is exempt from the impact of this global crisis.

“We honour Ryan’s choice as a champion of wellness and consider him an inspiration to others who suffer in silence.

“When appropriate, The WBC will be ready with full support, for Ryan’s return to the ring.”

Even unified lightweight champion Teofimo Lopez – a potential future rival – left his own positive message, backing Garcia against the few negative comments sent his way.

He tweeted: “It takes a brave soul like Ryan Garcia to openly express that he’s going through tough times mentally.

“Instead of pointing the finger at him maybe you all should take a lesson from it! We’re all dealing with something so what makes us any better?”

It appears the boxing community is rallying around the youngster, with the hope being that he will get well soon and make a stronger return to the ring.

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