That Was Then. This Is Now.

It was published 52 years ago as part of a series of coming-age novels by S.E. Hinton and later adapted into a movie starring Emilio Estevez in 1985.

But for these purposes, its title illustrates a pivot point between weekends.

Last weekend, it was Ryan Garcia’s turn.

The 25-year-old fighter/social media prodigy finished off an eventful week with an eighth-round stoppage of Oscar Duarte, drawing reviews that ranged from Michael Rosenthal’s “significant step forward” to Julio Cesar Chavez’s “What kind of boxing am I watching?”

As is the case with many things, reality is probably somewhere in between.

The win was the most important thing, and, difficult or not, Garcia got it, which means he remains in the running to land high-profile fights with champions and/or significant contenders.

That’s the good news.

The bad news? There’s no guarantee Garcia’s mettle is going to hold up long term.

In the ring or out.

“I always say boxing is a lie detector test,” ex-middleweight title challenger Billy Lyell told Boxing Scene. 

“The truth comes out in the ring. I don’t think Ryan is a real fighter. Fast hands? Yes. Good for the sport? Yes, more eyes on the sport (are) always a good thing. A real fighter? No. 

“You can bullsh!t other people but you can’t bullsh!t yourself. When he was in the ring with Tank he was hoping to win. But I don’t think he believed he could.”

It’s no different on the outside, where Garcia spent much of the week leading up to the fight complaining about a perceived lack of support from the Golden Boy Promotions apparatus about the way he was being treated.

That’s not a good sign.

Make no mistake, anyone will confirm Garcia’s a nice enough kid. But he believes a bit too much of his own hype. He's a front runner. When things are going well, he's the boss. 

But he doesn't seem to deal with adversity well. 

An authentic litmus test for elite fighters is their performances in 50/50 fights. Do they win fights where they're not the clear favorite, or even when they're the underdog? Do they have that "dog" in them to bite down? Maybe. Maybe not. But to quote the Magic 8 Ball, signs point to no.

And when kids like that are questioned, when they're told something other than a steady stream of “you're the greatest thing since sliced bread,” they clap back with arrogance. Which he’s done repeatedly. Let’s face it, the very idea that he would get into a verbal sparring match with Oscar De La Hoya or Bernard Hopkins – two guys who performed on the highest level, continually managed adversity, and frequently won 50/50 fights – is, in a word, laughable.

This weekend, it’s Regis Prograis’ and Robeisy Ramirez’s turn.

The former will make the second defense of his second title reign at 140 pounds against ladder-climbing lightweight Devin Haney, who ditched his cache of belts to chase glory in a second weight class.

Haney’s a big favorite – minus-400 according to DraftKings – and there’s plenty of reason.

He was peerless on the big stage during his days at 135, rarely having his unbeaten record put in peril and responding well when it was, especially in a 12th-round rally against Vasyl Lomachenko that kept the Ukrainian at bay and allowed the titles to stay at home last May.

It’ll take all the skill Prograis can muster to make it a grimy fight, which seems to be his most apparent path to victory – though it’s also what George Kambosos Jr. needed, but was unable, to do in two fights against Haney in June and October 2022.

As for Ramirez, it’s time to make a future-focused statement.

The 29-year-old Cuban southpaw has erased all the stench from a shocking loss in his pro debut, became a champion in his 13th career fight eight months ago and has already defended once with an impressive fifth-round KO over a homestanding, albeit competitively overmatched opponent.

He’ll face unbeaten 10th-ranked WBO contender Rafael Espinoza on Saturday in suburban Miami in a fight where a 6-foot-1 featherweight will be a novelty but shouldn’t be the kind of obstacle that keeps the career momentum going forward.

Assuming a victory, Ramirez can perhaps pursue a unification with IBF champ and fellow Top Rank client Luis Alberto Lopez, consider a rise to 130 where another Top Rank property reigns in the former of WBC champ O’Shaquie Foster, or cast his net either up to 135 or down to 122 – where the would-be pickings include amateur rival Shakur Stevenson on one end or Japanese marauder Naoya Inoue on the other.

The pit stops may vary in number. But the checkered flags are nothing if not lucrative.

* * * * * * * * * *       

This week’s title-fight schedule:      


WBC super lightweight title – San Francisco, California 

Regis Prograis (champion/No. 3 Ring) vs. Devin Haney (Unranked WBC/Unranked Ring) 

Prograis (29-1, 24 KO): Second title defense; Four KOs in seven 12-round fights (6-1)  

Haney (30-0, 15 KO): Eighth title fight (7-0); Fourth fight in California (3-0, 1 KO) 

Fitzbitz says: I’m a Prograis fan and want to believe he’s got enough for a guy moving to a new weight class. I’ll probably regret it, but I’m stubborn and must be proven wrong. Prograis by decision (51/49) 

WBO featherweight title – Pembroke Pines, Florida 

Robeisy Ramirez (champion/No. 4 Ring) vs. Rafael Espinoza (No. 10 WBO/Unranked Ring) 

Ramirez (13-1, 8 KO): Second title defense; Scored KO win in only previous Florida fight (1-0)          

Espinoza (21-0, 18 KO): First title fight; First fight in United States since 2015 (2-0, 1 KO)  

Fitzbitz says: It’s not often you see a 6-foot-1 fighter at 126, so that’ll be a challenge. But the resume attached to the frame is a bit suspect so it may not be quite so daunting. Ramirez by decision (98/2) 

WBO junior heavyweight title – Bournemouth, England 

Chris Billam-Smith (champion/No. 6 Ring) vs. Mateusz Masternak (No. 5 WBO/No. 10 Ring)             

Billam-Smith (18-1, 12 KO): First title defense; Eighth fight in Bournemouth (7-0, 4 KO) 

Masternak (47-5, 31 KO): First title fight; Lost only previous fight in England in 2015 (0-1) 

Fitzbitz says: I’m not sold on the champion at the highest level but given that he’s on home turf against a veteran without a recent significant win eases the doubt a bit. Billam-Smith by decision (75/25) 

Last week's picks: None 

2023 picks record: 41-15 (73.2 percent)        

Overall picks record: 1,292-423 (75.3 percent)       

NOTE: Fights previewed are only those involving a sanctioning body's full-fledged title-holder – no interim, diamond, silver, etc. Fights for WBA "world championships" are only included if no "super champion" exists in the weight class.

Lyle Fitzsimmons has covered professional boxing since 1995 and written a weekly column for Boxing Scene since 2008. Reach him at or follow him on Twitter – @fitzbitz.