The junior welterweight division doesn’t get a whole lot of respect. For superstar-level fighters, it tends to be just a way station between lightweight and welterweight. Floyd Mayweather popped in for three fights. Manny Pacquiao had one fight at junior welter, snagged the lineal title, and was gone. Shane Mosley skipped over the division entirely.

But at this moment, after what happened on Saturday night between Ryan Garcia and Devin Haney, junior welter just may be the most fascinating division in boxing. Will any of the fighters making it so fascinating stick around long? Nobody knows. But for now, 140 pounds offers an absurd number of angles to explore.

That said, in searching for a column theme and landing on the idea of exploring multiple mini-angles, I came to the conclusion that it was a bit unrealistic to go with the hook of “140 thoughts on the 140-pound division.” (And it was even more unrealistic to do 143.2 thoughts.)

So, in a move sure to juice the hit count on this article among the British audience, I now present 10 mini-angles on Garcia-Haney and the 10-stone weight class:

  1. Never assume anything. Especially in boxing.

We all get predictions wrong, and upsets happen all time, but Garcia-Haney is one of the most pronounced examples I can remember of people latching on to a narrative and dismissing a fighter’s chances of winning with extreme confidence and getting it wrong. The debate may continue for a long time, without answer, as to whether Garcia is in the throes of a mental-health crisis. But even if he is, we — meaning me and most fans and experts — were wrong to assume that meant he couldn’t perform in the ring.

I was a little less committed than most to the notion when the fight was signed that Garcia had no chance of winning — with his speed and power and some doubts in my mind about Haney’s chin, I was giving him an outside shot — but once the bizarre behavior began piling up, I joined that “Haney can’t lose, it’s a foregone conclusion” chorus.

In unscripted entertainment, nothing is a foregone conclusion. Garcia made an ass out of you, me, and everyone else who assumed erratic behavior would translate to emphatic defeat.

  1. A writer spends a fight sketching out angles in his head. Here’s what you’re missing out on because Garcia rallied to win.

At numerous points leading up to the fight and throughout it, I was kicking this one around: Is Ryan Garcia in danger of becoming the new Adrien Broner? I mean, if he’d lost this fight, whether by failing to finish Haney after having some good moments or by losing without many good moments, there were plenty of parallels to the talented, marketable, unreliable, weight-limit-ignoring Broner, who faded into “big name opponent” status more quickly than most would have predicted. A second loss for Garcia in 12 months, with all the outside-the-ring distractions to boot, may have put him on a similar sad fast-track.

By the 10th round, that angle was officially scrapped.

Anyway, be glad this fight delivered something for me to write about, because the back-up plan was to do a Passover-themed piece on boxing’s 10 plagues. (Plagues would have included alphabet bodies, fights that end after 1 a.m. on the east coast, etc.)

I think I’ll go ahead and keep that one in the back pocket just in case Passover 2025 happens to land on a slow boxing week.

  1. The asterisk shifts: Did Garcia have unfair advantages by not trying to make weight?

Going back to Angle No. 1 above, about making assumptions, I must admit my prefight column hasn’t aged exceptionally well. I wrote about a potential Haney win having an asterisk because Garcia was mentally compromised.

Well, it turns out a Garcia win gets an asterisk too. He missed weight by 3.2 pounds. He did not make an effort thereafter to boil down. He looked significantly larger than Haney in the ring, and while there are many situations in which so-called size “advantage” means little, this is one case where I can’t rule out its impact on the result. Garcia had a clear edge in physical strength and his punches affected Haney from the start, while the reverse was not at all true. Both sides of that equation probably would have worked out a little differently if Garcia had taxed himself by getting down to the agreed-upon weight.

  1. The turn-and-turtle defense is the new rope-a-dope.

Rarely has a world-class fighter employed a move that makes it seems more like he has no clue what he’s doing than Garcia’s 90-degree clockwise body turn and accompanying cover-up. But in the later stages of the fight, he started revealing a method to the perceived madness, as he was throwing counter left hooks when Haney opened up and went after him in his unusual defensive posture.

Fifty years ago, everyone thought, in the moment, that Muhammad Ali was nuts to let George Foreman whale away at him in Zaire. But he knew what he was doing.

I’m sure I’m giving Garcia too much credit, but, by design or not, the turn-and-turtle played a role in Devin’s downfall.

  1. The secret big winner of the night: Tank Davis.

Though Gervonta Davis has been inactive for a full year now, his stock went up on Saturday when Haney — ranked ahead of Davis on most pound-for-pound lists going in — came up short against Garcia, a fighter Davis KO’d with relatively little difficulty.

Sure, there was the aforementioned asterisk of Garcia not making weight against Haney, and some placed asterisks on Davis’ win over Garcia because of the weight they fought at (136 pounds, with a 10-pound rehydration clause) and suggestions that “King Ry” came in with a rib injury. But those details slip to the background relative to the simple fact that Davis beat Garcia, who beat Haney. For now, Tank is winning the “Four Princes” (trademark: Kieran Mulvaney) rivalry.

  1. Garcia-Haney 2 makes sporting sense, but Davis-Garcia 2 makes all the business sense.

Roughly doubling sales expectations, last April’s fight between Davis and Garcia reportedly sold 1.2 million pay-per-views. For the ensuing 12 months, there was little reason for or interest in a rematch.

Now that Garcia has beaten Haney, you’d better believe there’s interest. These are the two biggest stars between 135 and 140 (or 143.2) pounds, and if the weight limit next time is more friendly to Garcia than it was the first time, without being unfair to Davis — in other words, if it’s 140 and Garcia commits to making the weight — people will believe there’s a chance of a different outcome.

This statement would have been unthinkable a few days ago, but: A Davis-Garcia rematch later this year could quite possibly exceed the 1.2 million buys of their first fight.

  1. “10 stone” column hook be damned, maybe Garcia should just move up to welterweight.

Only Garcia knows how easy or hard it would be for him to actually weigh in at 140 in the future, but regardless of what weight he can make, perhaps a Mayweather-Pacquiao-Mosley-esque leap straight to the traditional glamor division above junior welter is the right career move.

Eddie Hearn tossed out Jaron “Boots” Ennis name to Garcia’s dad after the fight, which drew an interesting reaction, but even if that fight isn’t to Team Garcia’s liking … maybe going all the way to the top and challenging pound-for-pound king Terence Crawford holds appeal? It’s the hardest imaginable fight for Garcia to win, but the paycheck will be substantial, his reputation won’t get dinged one bit if he loses, and he’s an instant Hall of Famer if he pulls off the upset.

Then again, don’t rule out the possibility of not seeing Garcia at either 140 or 147 for a while. Once Tyson Fury reached the top of the mountain, he needed 2½ years off before he felt motivated again. A similar mental health hiatus for Garcia should shock nobody.

  1. Teofimo who?

Teofimo Lopez is the lineal champion of the junior welterweight division. But boy is he not on anybody’s mind these days. While Garcia, Haney, and Davis are fighting each other, the fourth “prince” has a fight with one Steve Claggett lined up.

I’m not going to write off the 26-year-old Lopez’s chances of becoming maximally relevant again soon, but for now, he’s a supporting character at 140 despite his top billing in the rankings.

  1. Arnold Barboza Jr. can keep waiting a little (or a lot) longer.

While some parts of the undercard for Saturday’s pay-per-view exceeded the low expectations, the co-main, Arnold Barboza vs. Sean McComb, was a drag that ended in a controversial decision. Styles make fights and all that, but it sure looked like Barboza was not ready for prime time.

That he is currently an alphabet mandatory in a deep division when the best opponents he’s fought are the likes Danielito Zorrilla, Alex Saucedo, and badly faded versions of Jose Pedraza and Mike Alvarado, tells you most of what you need to know about alphabet rankings.

Suffice to say Barboza did not create any demand this past weekend to get him an immediate major opportunity.

  1. Bold prediction: This coming Saturday’s 10-stone main event, Jose Ramirez vs. Rances Barthelemy, won’t be as entertaining as Garcia-Haney. 

Barthelemy in particular does not offer a rich history of thrills and chills. The co-feature on DAZN this Saturday, featuring Vergil Ortiz Jr., has my interest more than the main event.

Then again, look how wrong most of us were about Garcia-Haney. Perhaps writing off Ramirez-Barthelemy is just one more flawed assumption to make about a sport that so often deviates from the script.

Read the full article here