LAS VEGAS – Ryan Garcia has learned his lesson.
The unbeaten lightweight prospect has no intention of fighting Devin Haney in 2020. That’s why he saw no reason Saturday night to mislead anyone into thinking he’s at least considering facing Haney, the WBC’s interim lightweight champion, next year.
Garcia was asked about boxing Haney in 2020 because Haney had said over the weekend that he wants that fight next year.
“It’s not about, you know, maximizing the money or the pay,” Garcia said at a press conference following his first-round knockout of Romero Duno on Saturday night at MGM Grand Garden Arena. “It’s just, you know, I’m moving at my pace. Whatever Devin, you know, wants. He’s gonna say that, but in reality, you know, it’s not gonna happen, you know, by 2020.
“You know, it’s more possible to happen in 2021. You know, I’m just gonna keep it real. I’m not gonna, you know, paint a picture for you guys and be like, ‘Oh, we’re gonna fight next year,’ and then it doesn’t happen. That’s why I stopped calling out names, because, you know, it’s just not realistic.”
The 20-year-old Haney (23-0, 15 KOs) is commonly considered one of the best young boxers in the sport. The Las Vegas resident stopped Russia’s Zaur Abdullaev (11-1, 7 KOs) after the fourth round to win the WBC’s interim lightweight title September 13 in The Theater at Madison Square Garden in New York.
The 21-year-old Garcia (19-0, 16 KOs), of Victorville, California, has mapped out his 2020. If Garcia gets his way, it’d include a former lightweight champion and a top lightweight that onetime title-holder barely beat.
“I had a little plan, you know, just my own thoughts,” Garcia said. “I wanted to fight [Jorge] Linares next and I wanted to fight Luke Campbell. Those are the fights, realistically, that I want [in 2020]. So that’s, basically, that’s my plan. I said I wanted to fight Avery Sparrow. Then fight Duno here. Then fight Linares. Then fight Luke Campbell. I haven’t changed anything. This is just what it is.”
Garcia was supposed to face Philadelphia’s Sparrow (10-1, 3 KOs, 1 NC) on September 14 in Carson, California. That fight was canceled when Sparrow was arrested the day they were supposed to weigh-in.
Garcia’s handlers wanted him to fight the Philippines’ Duno (21-2, 16 KOs), who was already scheduled to box on that September 14 card, on one day’s notice once Sparrow was removed from their fight. He declined that request, but Garcia agreed to fight Duno seven weeks later on the Canelo Alvarez-Sergey Kovalev undercard.
Venezuela’s Linares (46-5, 28 KOs) has returned to the lightweight division following a first-round TKO loss to Mexico’s Pablo Cesar Cano (32-7-1, 22 KOs, 1 NC) in his junior welterweight debut January 18 in The Theater at Madison Square Garden. He defeated the Philippines’ Al Toyogan (10-5-1, 6 KOs) by unanimous decision in his last fight, a 10-rounder September 7 in Tokyo.
England’s Campbell (20-3, 16 KOs) most recently lost a 12-round unanimous decision to WBA/WBC/WBO lightweight champ Vasiliy Lomachenko (14-1, 10 KOs) on August 31 at O2 Arena in London. Linares edged Campbell by split decision in their 12-round fight for Linares’ WBA 135-pound crown in September 2017 at The Forum in Inglewood, California.
Whomever he fights next year, Garcia won’t worry about keeping pace with other top talents in his age range.
“Because you’ll never get ahead if you’re always looking at the next racer on the side of you,” Garcia said. “You’ve gotta worry about yourself, you know? You’re gonna just slow down if you keep looking to the left or the right. You’ve gotta worry about yourself, don’t hate, and just work hard. And that’s it.”
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.