Devin Haney insists that he has always believed that Ryan Garcia would be his opponent on Saturday night.

The WBC super-lightweight champion makes the first defence of his title against his long-term rival at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York.

Concerns surrounding Garcia’s mental health have persisted, on account of his erratic behaviour and ill-advised social media activity, since their fight was confirmed, and during fight week in New York new concerns have arisen about his ability to make 140lbs.

Garcia, like Haney aged 25, has the appearance of a physically mature welterweight, but asked if he’d been worried about his status as an opponent while Haney was preparing for Saturday’s fight he responded: “No. At the end of the day I knew Ryan would show up. This is a big fight – it’s a huge opportunity for him as well. I can’t put too much energy into focusing on Ryan and whether he’s gonna show up. I can only focus on being myself, and prepared, and being the best that I can be – no matter if it’s Ryan or not.

“I’ve been locked in the dungeon. I’ve been preparing and sharpening my tools and getting ready for warfare. He has a lot going on, and it will show – and it will prove [how focused and committed or otherwise he’s been] – and it will come out on fight night.

“He’s a C-level [fighter] – he’s an average fighter with a name. I am an elite-level fighter. I am levels above this guy. I am the real deal. This guy is a popular, average fighter – and that’s what I’ll show. I’ll show that he’s not at the top level.”

Arnold Barboza Jr, who fights Sean McComb on the undercard, has been on standby to replace Garcia – who went 3-3 with Haney across six fights while they remained amateurs – should, for whatever reason, Garcia not make it to the ring on fight night, and asked if Barboza Jr had entered his fight preparations, Haney said: “No. My main focus is fighting Ryan Garcia, and being the best I can possibly be. 

“Arnold Barboza is on the undercard and he’s on the undercard for a reason. The people are coming to watch me and Ryan Garcia. 

“I gotta share the ring with him to see [how much Garcia has improved since we were amateurs], but he’s not elite level like I am.

“It’s very important. It’s time for me to put this thing to bed. Once and for all, the Devin-Ryan saga will be over. The better man will win on April 20th, and that will be me. Inshallah.”

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