Devin Haney can huff and puff all he wants, but the brick wall separating him from a fight with rising star Ryan Garcia is not going to topple over anytime soon – so long as Garcia has a say in the matter.
That is because Garcia, the social media sensation from Victorville, Calif., is purely fixated on a fight with Baltimore dynamo Gervonta Davis, perhaps the only other young boxer outside of Davis who has shown to have as much legitimate crossover appeal.
In the meantime, the 22-year-old Garcia recommends that Haney fight Teofimo Lopez, who owns three of four major lightweight belts; Haney has the other.
Beat Lopez, and then we can talk.
“Devin gotta fight Teofimo Lopez,” Garcia said on the SI Boxing Podcast. “Let Devin do that. Devin’s great, but he gotta be great. That’s his great fight. If he does that, then we can get it on.
“I’ll beat Tank, you go beat Teofimo – if you beat Teofimo, that’s a challenge right there, Teofimo’s a bad man, too – if they get that on, we can have a mega fight as well.”
After his rousing seventh-round stoppage over Luke Campbell on Jan. 2 – via a clubbing left to the uppermost right ribcage – Garcia immediately called out Davis as the next fighter he wants to face in the ring. He has not backed off from this challenge either, going so far as to fan the flames of that matchup in a recent appearance with Davis on Mike Tyson’s podcast. The consensus seems to be that outside of an Anthony Joshua-Tyson Fury heavyweight unification bout, there is no fight in the sport with as much commercial upswing as Garcia-Davis.
That dynamic has created something of an awkward situation for the 22-year-old Haney (25-0, 15 KOs), the WBC lightweight titleholder, who was expecting to face Garcia by fiat, if nothing else. As Haney’s promoter Eddie Hearn has constantly stressed, the Garcia-Campbell fight was an eliminator for the right to challenge Haney. For Hearn that means Garcia (21-0, 18 KOs) should be preparing to face Haney, not thirsting after Davis. BoxingScene.com reported recently that the WBC is prepared to order that negotiations between the Haney and Garcia sides begin.
But Garcia is not talking like a man who much cares about sanctioning body procedures, or titles belts for that matter. While Haney is one of the top young talents in the division, he lacks the drawing power of Garcia and Davis, which is presumably why Garcia is not interested in Haney at the moment. At the same time, Garcia wants to be clear that he is not ducking Haney.
“C’mon now, you really think I’m afraid of Devin Haney?” Garcia said. “Devin Haney is a great fighter but he not gon’ beat me. There’s no way. I’ll find a way to beat him. I wish the best for Devin. I have nothing against him. It’s just how it is, how it’s going to play out. Get ready, man.”
Instead, Garcia wants Haney, who has been hankering after a signature win of his own, to stop with the griping and focus on his own career.
“Stop Complaining!” Garcia pleaded. “Stop complaining about this or that. Go fight Teofimo, go beat him, go beat great, that’s your chance! People are going to give you more credit if you beat him than me, than me versus Tank. The boxing people at least. So go do that. Your chance is here. That’s the message I want to send out to Devin.”
Garcia said that he recently tried to get in touch with Haney to smooth things over, but that he did not answer his phone call, leading him to suspect that Haney is smarting over what he likely perceives as disrespect.
“I messaged Devin, I tried to facetime him and he didn’t answer,” Garcia explained. “I just said, ‘Are you really that mad that I don’t want to fight you, that I want to fight Tank? Answer the phone, dammit!’
“He didn’t want to answer the phone so I was like this dude’s really mad. But if he can change that anger into passion to fight Teofimo then that’ll be a great fight. I’ll be looking for that, too.”
Unfortunately for Haney, it appears Garcia has no intentions of backing off from a potential Davis fight.
“It is the biggest fight,” Garcia said. “It’s what the people want. Isn’t this why we box? I don’t care about making the most money I can make. I want to give the people want they want.
“This is the time to do it. I’m gonna take control. I’m gonna push this as much as I can. You’re going to see my heart go into this, every ounce of it. I’m gonna make these fights happen, I promise you.”