Ryan Garcia continues to develop his skills in the ring, but when it comes to keeping himself in the public consciousness, there may be no better boxer.
Garcia, 20, who has more than 2 million Instagram followers, last week debuted in “On the Ropes,” a new YouTube series produced by digital video studio Brat Inc.
“That’s why we did the show,” Brat co-founder Rob Fishman said. “He’s a star.”
Garcia plays Sonny Mendoza, a highly studious high school student intensely committed to earning a scholarship into a respected college when he crosses paths with a classmate, Jackie, played by Bella Shepard.
In the first episode, which has already generated nearly 500,000 views, Garcia’s character — who knows boxing only as a way to complement his typically intense workouts — needs Jackie’s help on a school project. He shadows her to the underground boxing world and when her boyfriend gets knocked down, Garcia’s character steps in and has his first fight.
“It’s the story of someone who has dreams and ambitions on two fronts: as an academic achiever and an athlete, trying to reconcile those two passions when suddenly they both come into focus,” Fishman said.
As The Times reported recently, Brat received $30 million in new financing, helping the new company accelerate its production of after-school shows aimed at “Gen-Z” viewers — mostly girls — who’ve defected from television.
“We’re always on the hunt for marquee talent who can do a show, and Ryan was always on our radar based on his traction on Instagram and elsewhere, so we developed this show around him,” Fishman said.
The second episode of the eight-episode series arrives at 3 p.m. Monday on YouTube.
The timing is impeccable.
Garcia (17-0, 14 knockouts) is currently in training in San Diego under Canelo Alvarez’s trainer Eddy Reynoso as he prepares for his March 30 lightweight bout against Jose Lopez (20-3-1, 14 KOs) at Fantasy Springs Resort Casino in Indio.
Last week, Garcia’s promoter, Oscar De La Hoya of Golden Boy Promotions, served rival Floyd Mayweather Jr. of Mayweather Promotions a cease-and-desist letter to stop the alleged tampering with Garcia.
Mayweather had offered Garcia $200,000 on video to fight a Mayweather prospect as part of an enticement to get to World Boxing Assn. super-featherweight champion Gervonta Davis, and the pair also crossed paths at Davis’ Feb. 9 fight in Carson and at Mayweather’s birthday party later last month.
“We’re excited to have caught him at an exciting inflection point in Ryan’s career. We think being on a Brat show really complements what he’s doing outside our programming,” Fishman said.
Garcia also lends his voice to the show’s theme song by Giovanny, “King,” a nod to Garcia’s boxing nickname that is posted on Spotify, with the video due this week.
“He’s a magnetic personality in real life, on his social media channels and on the show,” Fishman said of Garcia. “He is playing the character Sonny Mendoza, but that character borrows quite a bit from the real-life Ryan Garcia.
“For many of the folks on our shows, this can be their first time on screen. We certainly were impressed by the tracking to Ryan’s performance on camera. More of the action takes place outside the boxing ring, and many viewers have noted how great Ryan is when he’s not fighting.”