Devin Haney could have chosen to celebrate the New Year anywhere in the world.
For business reasons, the unbeaten WBC lightweight titlist chose to touch down in Dallas, in hopes of securing his next opponent. Instead, all he was dealt were a list of excuses for why Ryan Garcia wasn’t interested in serving as his next opponent.
Garcia (21-0, 18KOs) earned the right to next challenge for the lightweight title by virtue of a 7th round knockout of England’s Luke Campbell. Their Jan. 2nd DAZN headliner took place in front of a sold-out crowd at American Airlines Center in Dallas, with Haney (25-0, 15KOs) in attendance and the WBC interim lightweight title at stake. The winner was to be ordered to next enter talks with the defending titlist, though Garcia instead went on a media tour with claims of chasing Pay-Per-View superfights, first with Gervonta Davis (24-0, 23KOs) before floating the name of legendary former eight-division titlist Manny Pacquaio (62-7-2, 39KOs).
Neither fight materialized, nor did Garcia ever come back around to talk shop with Haney.
“Me and my team knew that Ryan Garcia was all cap,” Haney claimed during the debut of DAZN Boxing Show with co-hosts Akin Reyes and Barak Bess. “We knew that he really didn't want to fight me. He didn't really want to fight Tank, he didn't really want to fight Pacquiao.”
The two will instead headline separate DAZN shows.
Las Vegas’ Haney is due to attempt his third title defense versus former three-division titlist Jorge Linares (47-5, 29KOs) on May 29 from Michelob ULTRA® Arena in Las Vegas. Six weeks later, Victorville, California’s Garcia will defend his interim title versus former secondary junior lightweight titlist Javier Fortuna (36-2-1, 25KOs) on July 9 from a yet-to-be-revealed location though likely in Southern California.
Both boxers managed to get plenty of ink out of the buildup, which worked to further Garcia’s already massive social media presence. Haney benefited from the free publicity as well, along with landing a notable fight of his own—even if not the one he desired, what he sensed all along to be the case.
“It was just… it was all promotion,” insists Haney. “And only time will tell what’s really going on and as everyone can see that he's ducking me. Why fight for another mandatory when you could be fighting for a world title?”
The WBC will order the winner of both fights to immediately enter negotiations for a title consolidation clash later this year.
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox