Mauricio Sulaiman thinks you have to read between the lines regarding recent comments made by Ryan Garcia.
Sulaiman, the president of the World Boxing Council, was recently asked to respond to critical assertions the lightweight attraction made regarding the belts produced by Sulaiman’s organization as well as others, like the WBO, WBA and IBF.
Garcia was far from congratulatory.
“These belts have no substance,” Garcia said on The DAZN Boxing Show. “It’s like wearing a chain, but it’s not heavy. It’s not real. All it matters is that you beat the guy that matters who everyone thinks you can’t beat. Then you make a bunch of money. The money lasts, but the belts don’t mean anything. We’re in this game. It’s called prizefighting.”
Garcia, who is not a champion, is nonetheless considered one of the top names of his generation in boxing and in social media. He has made his feelings clear about sanctioning body belts in recent weeks.
The 23-year-old native of Victorville recently stopped Javier Fortuna in six rounds, whereupon he called out Baltimore’s Gervonta Davis to a showdown. Garcia said he does not need a title to feel validated, saying defeating Davis would make him “feel like a champion because the name carries weight.” Garcia has also criticized undisputed lightweight champion Devin Haney because he won his belts from George Kambosos, a fighter Garcia apparently does not hold in high regard.
Sulaiman, however, believes Garcia is simply acting his age and using the “belts don’t matter” line as either a defensive posture or out of professional “jealousy” of his peers. Sulaiman also said he recalled the time a young Garcia entered the WBC office and expressed admiration at owning a WBC belt some day.
“You know, I’ve been there,” Sulaiman said of Garcia’s criticism on The DAZN Boxing Show. “He’s just a young kid, it means very much to be back in the ring, new trainer. So a lot of pressure on him.
“I saw him very young in the WBC office. He was admiring the WBC belt and saying that it was his dream. I’ve been with him several times and he was always respectable, saying he wants to be a WBC champion.
“For him to say that is unfortunate. I don’t know if he really means that. I think it’s just a protection statement about being jealous of whoever has the belt and him not being there yet. But that was due to his own problems. So, he’s a talented fighter. I like him very much as a person. I wish him success, and I truly do not believe he means what he said. That’s my opinion.”
Sulaiman does not feel, however, that he needs to send out a statement refuting Garcia. He also noted that the recent record $6.18 million auction sale of Muhammad Ali’s championship belt—one produced by the WBC—is another reason why he thinks Garcia does not mean what he says.
“Because he’s a fighter,” Sulaiman said. “I don’t like to go against fighters. He’s a kid. I don’t believe that’s his true feelings. It was just a statement … exactly [it was a defense mechanism against critics who say he doesn’t have a belt] there’s no need to put him in the spotlight.
“I wish him well. I truly believe he’s got great potential. I know in his heart he wants a belt. Just look at what happened last night with what happened with the Muhammad Ali belt.”