Ryan Garcia wants his critics to realize that he didn’t call out Abner Mares.

It was Mares who expressed interest in facing Garcia, who is looking for an opponent for a fight this summer in Southern California. Mares is a popular former three-division champion who often engages in entertaining fights and would be the most notable name on Garcia’s record.

The negatives related to a Garcia-Mares match are glaring, of course.

The 34-year-old Mares hasn’t fought in nearly two years and suffered the second detached retina of his career in a sparring session 16 months ago. He has boxed at the junior lightweight limit of 130 pounds only once, but never within the lightweight division.

Those all might become moot points because the 21-year-old Garcia suspects Mares might simply price himself out of their possible bout. Garcia didn’t entirely rule out meeting Mares, however, when he was interviewed recently on “The Ak And Barak Show,” which streams daily on DAZN and SiriusXM.

“Hopefully, I can get Abner Mares in the ring,” said Garcia, who stands more than five inches taller than Mares. “But he might price himself out, which is OK. But he called me out. You understand what I’m saying? I wasn’t worried about him. You know what I mean? Like, he’s a little guy, little dude, a little man. You know what I mean? So, I definitely would not want to hurt him. You understand what I’m saying? Like, I don’t wanna hurt nobody, because I will hurt him. He’s a very little, little man.

“But I’m like, I’m not gonna hurt him. But he called me out. He really went for it, so I’m like, ‘Hmm. OK, if you really want that work, I’m gonna knock you out and I’m not gonna get credit, but I don’t care. I’m gonna knock you out.’ So, it’s more of just an I’m-gonna-knock-you-out type of thing. But he could get that fight, though, but probably not.”

Mares (31-3-1, 15 KOs), of Downey, California, hasn’t boxed since rival Leo Santa Cruz beat him by unanimous decision in their 12-round featherweight championship rematch in June 2018 at Staples Center in Los Angeles. The 2004 Mexican Olympian was supposed to challenge Gervonta Davis (23-0, 22 KOs) for Davis’ WBA “super” 130-pound crown in February 2019, but Mares withdrew from that fight due to a detached retina in his right eye.

Before exploring a fight with Mares, Garcia (20-0, 17 KOs), of Victorville, California, wanted to face former three-division champ Jorge Linares in his next bout.

Golden Boy Promotions, which represents Garcia and Linares, tentatively planned to stage that fight July 11 at Staples Center in Los Angeles. The 34-year-old Linares (47-5, 29 KOs) remains in Japan, which has prevented him from training and eliminated him as a potential opponent for Garcia’s next fight.

“There’s something in the works,” Garcia said. “We’re working at it every day to make a fight happen. The last opponent I had was Abner Mares. It looks like it might not happen because I think he’s just gonna try to cash out one last time. So, I think he might price himself out. But other than that, we’re gonna keep looking.” 

Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.