Boxing

Devin Haney vs. Ryan Garcia preview, prediction: What to expect after wild buildup

Devin Haney vs. Ryan Garcia preview, prediction: What to expect after wild buildup

Devin Haney (L) and Ryan Garcia face off during their promotional tour on Feb. 27, 2024, in New York. (Photo by Cris Esqueda/Golden Boy/Getty Images)

When Devin Haney and Ryan Garcia finally end their feud with fists Saturday night, it has the potential to either be a one-sided beatdown or a surprisingly compelling matchup. The longtime rivals will finally settle their differences Saturday at Barclays Center in New York. The 12-round bout, including undercard action, will be livestreamed on DAZN.

It's somewhat of a surprise we've made it this far given the extremely oddball behavior from Garcia in the buildup to the fight and his 3.2 pound weight miss Friday morning.

Garcia (24-1, 20 KOs) thanked Jesus eight times to begin his portion of Thursday’s news conference. Moments later, he hurled a foul-mouthed tirade at Haney and, later, targeted a member of the audience in a rant involving mothers and body parts.

Haney (31-0, 15 KOs), the reigning WBC super lightweight champion and one of the finest pound-for-pound fighters in the world, has seemingly tried to remain professional throughout fight week despite Garcia's strange antics.

But the 25-year-old Haney did shove Garcia in the face during a promotional meet-up at the top of New York’s Empire State Building on Tuesday. Two days later, Haney had a simple message for his nemesis.

“The antics are almost done. This isn’t an easy fight, but a fight I will make look easy,” Haney said. “I have my tunnel vision. It will show. All his antics and all the things he has been doing will betray him, and it will show.”

In December, in his first fight at 140 pounds, Haney won the title with a dominant 12-round unanimous decision over former titleholder Regis Prograis. He’ll be making his first defense against Garcia, who appears to be juggling three careers: professional prizefighter, actor and social media influencer.

Garcia, who holds an amateur victory over Haney, suffered a seventh-round knockout loss to Gervonta “Tank” Davis in April of last year. He had agreed to a 136-pound catchweight with a 10-pound rehydration clause and entered the ring with a rib injury against one of the sport’s most devastating punchers. The result? Garcia was dropped twice, with a left hand to the same rib he injured being the final straw.

Garcia rebounded, however, with a ninth-round knockout win over Oscar Duarte in December.

His behavior since then has been reminiscent of a low-budget horror film. After flip-flopping between fighting Haney and then-WBA titleist Rolando “Rolly” Romero, Garcia and his Golden Boy Promotions team were forced to go back to the drawing board and secure a bout with Haney.

Since that moment, Garcia — who has spoken openly regarding his mental health struggle — has posted a plethora of erratic and defamatory social media posts in recent months, leading to concerns for his well-being. Garcia, 25, though, insists he’s ready.

“What do you guys want me to say? I’ve already said everything,” he said during Thursday's news conference.

Garcia — who is known for his sizzling hand speed — then repeatedly screeched, “I’m on fire,” and "I’m strong,” before returning to his seat.

Moments later, he barked at the aforementioned audience member.

Haney, dressed in all black with sunglasses and gloves, on the other hand, remained stoic and composed throughout.

Haney-Garcia is a battle between two supremely talented fighters. Nonetheless, one is focused, and the other looks to be on a self-destructive path toward defeat.

Devin Haney speaks during a new conference at Barclays Center on April 18, 2024, in New York. (Photo by Cris Esqueda/Golden Boy/Getty Images)

Devin Haney vs. Ryan Garcia prediction

This is an interesting matchup in terms of physical attributes. Haney has an excellent southpaw jab, superior defense and ring generalship beyond his years. Garcia has the physical tools to win this fight, too. He’s got the height, reach, speed and power. At the very least, Garcia has a puncher’s chance to win this fight and score an upset. Will that happen? I don’t think so.

Garcia has been spending too much time on social media and not enough time preparing for one of the biggest fights of his life. Depending on how you look at it, the Davis bout was one of the most highly anticipated fights of 2023, albeit it a non-title fight. This upcoming battle against Haney is for a legitimate world title. Garcia has an opportunity to put himself in the record books, but it doesn’t seem that he cares. Win or lose, he stands to make more money in the long run as a content creator.

From a skills standpoint, Haney has a significant advantage over Garcia. He is one of the sharpest and most disciplined athletes in boxing. He is a master ring technician with precision punching and impressive footwork. Garcia is quick, but timing often beats speed when you leave your chin in the air, drop your hands and overextend with your punches, leaving you vulnerable for a counter shot.

The second round of the Davis fight was a perfect example. Garcia missed with the left hook, and Davis, an elite counterpuncher, floored him with a straight left hand. Haney doesn’t possess the power of Davis, but a champion of his caliber should win this fight handily. The animosity that Garcia has inoculated into this event may have mattered in promoting the fight, but will be immaterial once the bell rings.

I’m taking Haney to KO Garcia in the third round, but don’t be surprised if Garcia gets himself disqualified, either.

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