Wednesday, April 17

Another day, another appearance from Ryan Garcia that provided nothing to encourage those hoping he will win Saturday’s fight with Devin Haney.

Both fighters, separately, spoke and performed media workouts at Brooklyn’s celebrated Gleason’s Gym.

On Tuesday, after they came face to face at The Empire State Building and Haney shoved Garcia – Garcia’s promoter Oscar De La Hoya has since said Haney is “rattled” and spoke of never having seen him behave that way previously, despite less than 12 months ago Haney also shoving Vasiliy Lomachenko at the weigh-in for their undisputed lightweight title fight and proceeding to produce an admirably disciplined performance – they were scheduled to throw out the first pitch at Citi Field before the Mets faced the Pirates.

Those around Garcia reportedly said that though Garcia threw warm-up pitches, met various Mets players and “everything [was] running smoothly”, Mets security allegedly had concerns about the incident earlier in the day and feared that another altercation would occur on the field, and therefore cancelled. 

At Gleason’s, De La Hoya said simply of the development: “I think it was a security issue. It’s a shame, because Ryan and Haney were looking forward to it. We’re all Yankees fans anyway…”

But the cancellation, and Garcia’s increasingly typically vocal reaction to it, has arguably made more of an impression than had they thrown the first pitch as planned. Which those working to promote Saturday’s fight will perhaps recognise the value of – particularly given they increasingly appear guilty of neglecting, to Garcia, their duty of care.

Having again witnessed Garcia appearing too heavy to healthily make super lightweight on Friday – he regardless looks lean – BoxingScene spoke to one of the world’s leading matchmakers who happened to be present at Gleason’s, and that matchmaker said that Garcia looked like he was weighing in excess of 150lbs. De La Hoya, also the promoter of Saturday’s fight, said he had “No concerns whatsoever – he’ll make weight”.

It is to be hoped that De La Hoya, after the most decorated of careers – one that concluded, incidentally, with his poorest performance when his struggles to make welterweight contributed to him being stopped by the great Manny Pacquiao in his final fight in 2008 – is the superior judge. 

As on Tuesday, Garcia was again consistently topless, and therefore apparently not gradually attempting to make weight by wearing numerous layers, as is the favoured approach of so many other professional fighters. Also as on Tuesday, his trainer Derrick James – who, like De La Hoya and Golden Boy, has a duty of care to Garcia – refused to speak. BoxingScene had heard him turn down one interview request on account of his being unable to address the rumours surrounding his relationship with Errol Spence, so when making another, stressed that it was this weekend’s fight – and not Spence – BoxingScene wanted to discuss. Again, he refused (a cynic might question whether he is determined to avoid discussing the mental health of the fighter De La Hoya also described as a “cash cow”). 

For all that Garcia again appeared in a troubled place, before honouring his media obligations he showed his warmth throughout the time he spent signing gloves and memorabilia for young, amateur fighters at Gleason’s. He is one of the world’s highest-profile fighters and therefore likely to encounter others demanding his attention considerably more than most – De La Hoya will be able to empathise; Haney perhaps won’t – but he was admirably graceful and human throughout. 

Perhaps it is that human side – he has previously willingly spoken in a way that has betrayed vulnerability, not least surrounding the anxiety he has suffered with and knowing, in the build-up to his defeat last year by Gervonta “Tank” Davis, that he was going to lose – that contributes so much to his popularity. 

His again appears the most distracted, restless and hyperactive of minds. Just after describing himself as a “little mental”, he said: “Y’all weren’t talking about Mike Tyson when he was like this. You all respect him now. So you gotta respect me. I seen some s*** I should have never seen, but I’m a killer now.”

He remains foul-mouthed in a way he wasn’t when he cut a considerably more composed figure – and one unquestionably attempting to make weight – in the build-up to his fight with Davis, and also unlike then he consistently retracts statements he makes, particularly those that are ill-advised.

“No consequences [if I miss making weight],” he said. “I’ll miss that s*** if I want. It’s my event. 

“I’m kidding. Bro, I’m gonna make the weight. It’s easy.

“I know I’m gonna win, bro. 

“You guys can’t even play ping-pong dehydrated, let alone fight in front of millions of people. Fact.”

He also “joked” about making it legal for fighters to smoke weed, and insisted his perceived headspace is a consequence of him acting – before then giving his best impression of Al Pacino, as Tony Montana from Scarface, shouting “Say hello to my lil’ friend”. That same hyperactivity contributed to him repeatedly punching the air in front of him while he spoke and, while explaining his “acting”, removing his hat, tossing it in the air to catch it, and then not succeeding nor caring that he hadn’t, because he was already moving on to the next thought and the next thing he wanted to say.

At the same time as describing Garcia as a “cash cow”, De La Hoya made comparisons between his leading fighter and Tiger Woods. The undignified, public fall of the great Woods, it is widely recognised in 2024, had been close to an inevitability because by the time he required saving from himself it was almost too late. If it is too late for Garcia to avoid a fight in which he can be expected to be repeatedly punched in the head, it is at least to be hoped that he is not on the brink of a significant fall of his own. 

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