Devin Haney vs. Ryan Garcia fight results, takeaways: 'King Ry' makes the bizarre mind games work for him



king ryan garcia crown

In what will likely be a leading candidate for both upset and fight of the year, Ryan Garcia erased just about all of the negative expectations following an absurd pre-fight promotion to drop unbeaten Devin Haney three times en route to a majority decision win on Saturday. 

Even with Garcia, who missed weight by over three pounds in a manner that appeared premeditated, becoming ineligible to win the WBC title at 140 pounds that Haney brought in, the fallout of the victory creates a massive ripple effect in and around the sport’s most exciting division of junior welterweight moving forward. 

Let’s take a closer look at what we learned following an unexpected and truly memorable night inside the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York. 

1. Ryan Garcia’s behavior was bizarre and obnoxious … but it worked

In what will have to go down as one of the most effective troll jobs in modern sports history, let alone boxing, the 25-year-old Garcia had Haney and the entire boxing world convinced that he had lost his mind in multiple ways, which went a long way in Haney becoming as high as an 8-1 underdog. For months, Garcia acted rabid and reckless in just about every manner, forcing columnists (like myself) to openly question whether he was even fit to compete or whether the promoters of record were prioritizing profit over humanity. It turns out, we were all wrong. Incredibly wrong. That doesn’t mean we owe Garcia an apology, even though it worked. 

There were major parts of Garcia’s shtick throughout fight week alone that threatened to soil his reputation for years to come. But the ultimate intention did play out as Garcia had hoped: Haney admitted after the fight to overlooking the threat of Garcia’s vaunted left hook as he more or less expected a Garcia meltdown was inevitable once his early offense inevitably was disciplined by the more technical fighter. What we didn’t expect was the level of poise Garcia operated with. The biggest bait-and-switch of all that Garcia pulled off, however, was just how much he seemed to benefit from the instruction of new trainer Derrick James, who barely spoke in the leadup to the fight as Garcia took all of the focus off of his preparations while routinely presenting himself as in the midst of a mental breakdown. Again, it was crass enough that any boxing purist can only hope a breakout of copycat behavior won’t follow it. But it did work.

2. Garcia clearly learned from the Gervonta Davis loss

Even though Garcia lent his star power to Davis last April when the two combined for a blockbuster that greatly exceeded pay-per-view sales expectations, Davis used his leverage as the A-side to work in a rehydration clause, which compromised Garcia’s chin and body. In hindsight, one can see just how much Garcia learned from the negative fallout where everyone, including Garcia’s promoter, Oscar De La Hoya, criticized him for giving away so much at the negotiation table. So, instead of trying to force a similar contractual stipulation upon Haney, who entered as the A-side due to him being champion, Garcia chose to forcibly take it back by how flippantly he missed weight, which led to a $600,000 penalty. Knowing that Haney is huge for the division and was fresh off of rehydrating up to 25 pounds when he took the title from Regis Prograis in December, Garcia’s decision to risk the embarrassment (which saw him chug a beer on the scales of Friday’s ceremonial weigh-in to further question his motives) turned out to be key in the long run. Not only did Garcia not put a ton of stress upon his body to make the 140-pound limit, he was fresher in the second half when he rallied to score knockdowns in Rounds 10 and 11 to provide just enough of a cushion to steal the decision in a fight in which he was largely outclassed outside of the rounds he scored knockdowns.

3. The immediate reputations of both fighters took dramatic hits

In a sport like boxing where top stars only perform twice per year and you are only deemed as good as your last performance in the public eye, Garcia’s upset drastically flipped the reputations of both fighters. Not only will Garcia’s dangerous antics be hailed as genius moving forward, giving him a justification to act even more brash in the future, the win instantly places him in the driver’s seat as the biggest star of the moment in and around the 140-pound division. Garcia, who revealed after the fight he hopes to campaign at 147 pounds moving forward (citing difficulties in even making 143 for this fight), can choose from just about any top name opponent he wants for his next fight. While an immediate rematch with Haney remains a big option, the biggest thing Garcia achieved on this night was retaining respect as an elite fighter, which was nearly extinguished by the ease with which Davis handled him last year (and was likely to never reappear had he lost to Haney following such a bizarre few months). And on the flip side, the fallout feels pretty extreme already for Haney, as those who questioned his punching power coming in already feel justified in doing so. But how about those who had ranked in the top five of the pound-for-pound list? For as perfect as Haney had looked as a professional who appeared already on his way toward Hall-of-Fame inevitability, it was his surprising  inability to avoid Garcia’s lone weapon that will greatly question how good he truly is. While much of that overreaction will likely be unfair, especially as the chin and heart Haney showed against Garcia continues to be overlooked, the justifications for such belief is already there. Haney was expected to handle Garcia with ease, regardless of his mental state, and failed to hurt or slow him down all that much before proving lucky to survive once the final bell was rung. 

4. The upset win marks an incredible turn of events for Golden Boy Promotions

Years after losing boxing’s top star, Canelo Alvarez, following a bitter divorce, there were some who were all-too-happy to finish off the obituary of De La Hoya’s promotional company while predicting he was leading Garcia into a fight he had no real shot of winning. And to be fair, a stoppage loss would’ve been disastrous for Garcia in ways that could have only compounded such financial fears for Golden Boy’s future. Instead, Garcia completed the ultimate gamble of scrapping hopes to challenge Rolando Romero for the title he previously held only to double down by facing Haney amid a chorus of critics wondering if De La Hoya was actively cashing Garcia out. Not only is Garcia’s future extremely bright but De La Hoya brings his co-promoter status behind unbeaten Jaime Munguia into a May 4 PPV showdown against Alvarez in Las Vegas, which is expected to be one of the sport’s biggest fights in 2024. De La Hoya is a lot of things to many different people in the boxing world, and not all of them are good. But the “Golden Boy” is, first and foremost, a survivor of the sport as he continues to find ways to breath positive life back into his eponymous brand.

5. For as imperfect as Garcia remains, the improvement is there

Garcia’s frightening hand speed and his check left hook will get the majority of the headlines when it comes to how he was able to upset a fighter of Haney’s craft and experience. But Garcia doesn’t come anywhere close to winning the fight in the manner in which he did without showing incredible maturity and poise compared to that of even his last, five months ago. James, who entered his second fight with Garcia following multiple years of coaching roulette from the young fighter, certainly deserves a ton of respect for helping Garcia minimize the kind of defensive lapses and technical mishaps that have threatened to derail many of his biggest wins. Garcia showed patience in not rushing to try and finish Haney after hurting him with a left hook in Round 1. He was also more responsible defensively throughout and never imploded or gave way to a critical error each time Haney was able to sustain success. Garcia also never lost his cool, even as referee Harvey Dock made things difficult in Round 7 when he docked Garcia, without a warning, for hitting on the break and seemed too liberal in policing Haney’s desperate attempts to hold. 





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