Ryan Garcia insisted his victory over Devin Haney proved there was no cause for concern about his mental health.

At the conclusion of 12 dramatic rounds at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York, he was confirmed as the victor via majority decision over one of the world’s finest fighters.

Haney was dethroned as the WBC super-lightweight champion and though Garcia failing to make weight meant he was ineligible to win the title, he recorded the most impressive win of his career to transform it on an evening when there were widespread concerns surrounding his health.

Garcia’s ill-advised use of social media and erratic behaviour since their fight was announced contributed to a growing belief that he needed medical attention instead of preparing for a fight.

Those fears grew throughout fight week when he consistently appeared on course to miss weight, and also restless, and distracted.

The combination of his explosive power and fast hands proved enough to make him the first to not only defeat Haney, but the first to knock him down, and to do so three times. A victory so transformative for his career regardless won’t necessarily transform his health, but the 25 year old said: “This is why people need to stop believing everything on the internet and stop living in a false reality. At the end of the day there’s a lot of real s*** going on. The last thing you should worry about is a kid acting crazy on the internet. Real s*** is going on in the world. Open your eyes. Kids being hurt; nobody caring. 

“I had everybody thinking I was crazy, but at the end of the day who’s the crazy one now? I didn’t really wanna say this, but it’s the truth. Everybody needs to acknowledge y’all was tripping, not me. I wasn’t. I was the one who was sanity. I don’t give a f*** what people say about me. I walked through the fire and still held it down and still beat Devin Haney and still drink every day and still beat him. I did everything. What happened? False reality, right? Drank every single night. What happened? I won. Not necessarily am I proud of that, but I’m just saying. It was a statement to show you – you guys can’t really f*** with me. I do whatever I want and still win. 

“I was just having fun, man. I’m going through a lot. I went through a divorce. Just, a lot of s***’s been happening to me outside my life. That kinda broke me. I did what I needed to do to feel okay. So I drank every day and did whatever I wanted, and I’m not proud of it at all. Don’t necessarily look at me like an example, ‘cause I’m far from perfect.”

Garcia and Haney, also 25, fought six times as amateurs and won three fights each. Their first fight as professionals was so competitive and so exciting that a rematch appears likely; Haney had appeared surprisingly underprepared for his power.

“‘Is this going to be the moment I stop him?’” Garcia responded when asked how he felt when, in the seventh, 10th and 11th rounds he dropped his long-term rival. “I shouldn’t have put too much pressure on myself to stop him, because every time I hurt him I just went crazy and I just couldn’t finish him. [The referee] Harvey Dock was tripping – he should have stopped that fight. It was bad. He was really hurt. I even looked at Bill [Haney, Devin’s father, trainer and manager] in the 11th round. ‘Bro, you probably should stop this.’ But he didn’t, and that’s it.

“He was holding me for dear life, and I felt an opportunity to keep swinging while my hands were free, and I cracked him, and he took a point away when I cracked him. But he held me; I should have knocked him out in that seventh round. They stole that from me.

“He got wobbled bad. I’m surprised he has such good recovery. I cracked him in the first round. I thought, ‘I won’. Easy work. Then he came out firing in the second – he even hit me with the hook, and I was like, ‘Damn, maybe you do got a little power’.

“Man, you don’t know half the s*** that I’ve been through in my life. That s*** was nothing. I’ve been through some crazy-ass – this whole fight week’s been crazy. You have no clue. Y’all have no clue. It’ll come out one day.

“I already knew I could beat him. I was supremely confident. Am I happy? Of course. What’s next? Who’s next? Let’s go.

“I don’t think ‘Tank’s’ gonna beat Frank Martin, but if he did, he wouldn’t fight me ‘cause I’m moving up. I’m not doing 140, I’m doing 147. My body can’t go lower than 143. It’s impossible. I’ve tried every technique. I can’t do it.”

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