Derrick James has stayed in the background while Ryan Garcia has been the talk of the internet in the build-up to his fight with Devin Haney.

Garcia faces Haney with the WBC junior welterweight title on the line on Saturday, April 20 from the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York. 

James was one of the most celebrated coaches a few years ago. He led Errol Spence to unify the welterweight division – before Terence Crawford stopped Spence in July 2023 – and took Jermell Charlo to the undisputed championship at junior middleweight before Canelo Alvarez easily outpointed Charlo. Now, James is admittedly in his final act with the sport, having hinted at retirement once his current group of fighters is done. 

His latest pupil, Garcia, 24-0 (20 KOs), has the world abuzz due to his social media antics, so much so that many are concerned about how seriously he is taking the fight. No professional boxer in recent memory has behaved how Garcia has leading into a big boxing event. 

In the latest episode of 40 Days, an online behind-the-scenes documentary series on DAZN YouTube channel, James defended Garcia, explaining his charge’s efforts in training.  

“He does zone in, and he does work hard,” stated James. “I just focus on what he does in this building and don’t even focus on all the other stuff.”

James insisted that when Garcia enters his gym, he is not interested in hearing about things from the internet. 

“I’m better now because of him [Derrick James],” stated Garcia. “Devin is going to find out in the ring.”

Yet, a stark contrast exists in the build-up. Garcia is on the internet a lot, going live on social media channels and interacting with fans. Haney, 31-0 (15 KOs) isn’t. 

The fighters and former amateur rivals couldn’t be more different from each other despite both being 25 years old and from the same generation that grew up with a smartphone in their hand. 

For some, James is the difference maker. He has had only one fight with Garcia, the eighth-round knockout win over Oscar Duarte. It is a small sample size, but Garcia credits James for teaching him a technical style of boxing, something that James explained saying: “I work [with] him on specific things not until he gets it right, but until he can’t get it wrong.”

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