Pick It: Devin Haney vs. Ryan Garcia

When to Watch: Saturday, April 20. The prelims are expected to begin on DAZN at 4:35 p.m. Eastern Time (9:35 p.m. BST), and the pay-per-view undercard will start at 8 p.m. ET / 1 a.m. BST.

How to Watch: Pay-per-view on DAZN and PPV.com.

Why to Watch: These are two fighters with history, yes, but the more important thing is what this fight, the main event at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, will mean for their futures.

Haney and Garcia had an amateur rivalry, meeting six times in the unpaid ranks, each of them winning three. The past sticks with them so much that they continued to debate what happened in their last bout all these years later.

Both have become stars since turning pros, though for different reasons. Haney is far more accomplished. Garcia is more of a celebrity and has an influencer personality, something that has its definite pros and cons.

Haney, a 25-year-old originally from the Bay Area of California and now fighting out of Las Vegas, is a former lightweight champion who then moved up to junior welterweight to capture a world title.

That’s a far cry from when Haney was being derided as an “email champ,” someone who received his first belt at 135 when the WBC upgraded Vasiliy Lomachenko to its “Franchise Champion.”

(Fun fact: Every time a boxing writer explains the WBC’s silliness, an angel loses its wings.)

But then Haney took two wins over George Kambosos Jr. — who had beaten Teofimo Lopez, who had beaten Lomachenko — and became the undisputed champ, owner of all four major world titles. Haney followed that by getting the nod in a competitive match with Lomachenko. He moved up to 140 last December and won the WBC belt with a dominant shutout of Regis Prograis, bringing his record to 31-0 (15 KOs).

Although Garcia isn’t the most accomplished opponent of Haney’s career, this is a fight that could bring more eyes on Haney’s talent. And no matter what, a win on Saturday night keeps Haney in the conversation in one of boxing’s deeper divisions.

This is a weight class that also includes Lopez (WBO belt and lineal champ), Isaac Cruz (WBA), and the winner of a June fight against Subriel Matias (IBF) and Liam Paro. And there are plenty of contenders, former titleholders, recent title challengers and prospects such as — in alphabetical order — Adam Azim, Arnold Barboza, Jack Catterall, Lindolfo Delgado, Shohjahon Ergashev, Richardson Hitchins, Batyrzhan Jukembayev, Brandun Lee, Gustavo Lemos, Sandor Martin, Ernesto Mercado, Jose Ramirez, Gary Antuanne Russell, Kenneth Sims Jr., Dalton Smith, and Josh Taylor.

Garcia, a 25-year-old originally from Victorville, California, who now calls Los Angeles home,  also wants to be on that list. For now he can be considered, at best, a former lightweight contender.

Garcia’s best wins were in the 135- and 140-pound weight classes in 2021 and 2022, when he came off the canvas to stop lightweight Luke Campbell, then followed with a pair of decisions at junior welterweight over Emmanuel Tagoe and Javier Fortuna. None of those names could’ve been considered at the time as among the top tiers of either of those divisions. And when Garcia got in with one of the main names at lightweight, it didn’t end well.

That fight was against Gervonta Davis about a year ago, in April 2023. It was a huge event, as both Davis and Garcia are extremely popular. Davis’ skills, talent, experience and composure guided him to victory that night. He downed Garcia in the second round and then dropped him for the count with a body shot in the seventh. There was talk afterward that Garcia had come in with a rib injury — but that doesn’t remove the defeat. 

Garcia returned last December, knocking out Oscar Duarte in eight rounds to bring his record to 24-1 (20 KOs). He’s done a lot of talking over these years — and has made this match with Haney one of the most incessantly embarrassing and annoying buildups to a fight in recent memory — but now it is time for Garcia to put up or shut up.

That means Garcia needs to win, or at least perform well against Haney on Saturday night. 

He was drawing crowds and attention far earlier than most other fighters, thanks to his good looks and his use of social media to build an impressive following. But does he have the goods? Or will he be known more as a combination of the Boy Who Cried Wolf and Ricardo Mayorga, someone whose mouth helps with his marketability — his mouth writes checks that his ass can’t cash, even if his bank account can.

Speaking of bank accounts, in case you want to dip into yours for this show, know that the televised undercard features at least four fights, an uninspiring slate that seems — on paper at least — to favor quantity over quality: 

Junior welterweight contender Arnold Barboza Jr., on the show partially as backup in case he was needed in the main event, will take on Sean McComb.

Barboza, a 32-year-old from El Monte, California, fought just once in 2023, outpointing former junior lightweight and lightweight titleholder Jose Pedraza over 10 rounds in February. Barboza then parted ways with promoter Top Rank and ultimately signed with Golden Boy Promotions. His first appearance under their banner was in January, when he stopped Xolisani Ndongeni in eight rounds, bringing Barboza’s record to 29-0 (11 KOs).

Barboza is one of many notable names in the 140-pound division. He’s not making any forward progress with this choice of opponent, however. McComb, 18-1 (5 KOs), wasn’t on anyone’s list of junior welterweights for someone like Barboza to test himself against. With that in mind, the 31-year-old from Belfast is looking to elevate himself on Saturday night at the expense of Barboza — “I’ve been waiting for this opportunity for a long time, and now it’s here, I plan to grab it with both hands,” McComb was quoted as saying in a press release.

McComb’s lone loss came in 2021 against a 12-2 fighter named Gavin Gwynne. He has put together a seven-fight win streak since then, culminating in a wide decision over Sam Maxwell this past December.

Bektemir Melikuziev will seek to defuse Pierre Hubert Dibombe in a battle of super middleweight prospects. 

Melikuziev, a 2016 silver medalist representing Uzbekistan, turned pro in 2019 and soon suffered a shocking knockout loss. He’d dropped Gabriel Rosado in the first round of their 2021 battle but soon got hurt and finished thanks to a perfect counter from Rosado in the third. The 28-year-old has won six straight since, including a rematch decision over Rosado in April 2023 and a fourth-round TKO of Alantez Fox last August. Melikuziev is now 13-1 (10 KOs).

Dibombe, a 32-year-old from France, is 22-0-1 (12 KOs). He’s spent most of his career fighting in his home country against nondescript opposition, traveling across the Atlantic Ocean for his last two fights: a fifth-round win over professional opponent Sladan Janjanin in Toronto in March 2022, and then a fourth-round TKO over the shell of Derrick Findley in Atlantic City in June 2023.

Junior bantamweights John “Scrappy” Ramirez and David Jimenez will fight for the WBA’s interim world title. Ramirez, a 27-year-old from Los Angeles, has been a pro for just a little more than three years. He is 13-0 (9 KOs) and coming off a 2023 campaign that saw him outpoint Luis Villa Padilla, take a split decision over Fernando Diaz, and score a fourth-round knockout of Ronal Batista. Jimenez, 15-1 (11 KOs), is vying for his second title shot. The 31-year-old from Costa Rica lost a decision to Artem Dalakian in a flyweight title fight in January 2023 and has won three straight since.

The show will open with a match between unbeaten junior middleweight prospect Charles Conwell and divisional measuring stick Nathaniel Gallimore

Conwell is a 26-year-old from Cleveland who fought in the 2016 Olympics, losing in the opening round of competition. He turned pro in 2017 and has gone 18-0 (13 KOs), though he hasn’t fought since a November 2022 majority decision over Juan Carlos Abreu.

Gallimore has also been inactive, last appearing in January 2023, when he was stopped in six by Serhii Bohachuk. That defeat, which brought Gallimore’s record to 22-7-1 (17 KOs), was just his latest loss to a recognizable name for the 35-year-old, who originally hails from Jamaica and now calls Illinois home. Although Gallimore scored a TKO of future unified titleholder Jeison Rosario in 2017, he later went on to lose decisions to Julian Williams, Patrick Teixeira and Erickson Lubin, and was stopped by Sebastian Fundora.

More Fights to Watch

Friday, April 19: Kurt Scoby vs. Dakota Linger (DAZN, 7 p.m. Eastern Time)

Scoby is an unbeaten junior welterweight prospect with a record of 13-0 (11 KOs) who fights out of New York City. The 28-year-old will headline this show at the Overtime Elite Arena in Atlanta. Scoby is on an eight-fight streak of wins by knockout or technical knockout and is gradually stepping up his level of opposition. His most recent victory came in August, when he put away 11-0-1 Narciso Carmona in six rounds.

Scoby’s opponent, Linger, is 13-6-3 (9 KOs). The 29-year-old from West Virginia has been served up in losses to a few recognizable names, including Danielito Zorrilla (KO2 in 2018), Omar Juarez (UD8 in 2020) and Brandun Lee (TKO3 in 2020). Linger did surprise with a second-round TKO win over Josue Vargas in 2022. He then spent a year out of the ring and was stopped by another prospect in his return, taken out in nine rounds by Reshat Mati last June.

On the undercard: The first two fights of a junior middleweight tournament

In one fight, Brandon Adams, 23-3 (15 KOs), faces Ismael Villarreal, 13-2 (9 KOs). Adams lost to Jermall Charlo in 2019 and was last seen scoring a big win, knocking out Serhii Bohachuk in 2021. Villarreal lost to Callum Walsh in November.

In the other, Angel Ruiz Astorga, 18-2-1 (13 KOs), faces Francisco Daniel Veron, 13-0-1 (10 KOs).

Saturday, April 20: Cain Sandoval vs. Angel Rebollar (UFC Fight Pass, 9 p.m. Eastern Time)

Sandoval, an unbeaten 140-pound prospect, comes into this fight with a record of 12-0 (11 KOs). The 21-year-old from Sacramento, California, just fought in February and was taken the distance for the first time, winning a 10-round shutout over Javier Molina.

Rebollar, a 20-year-old from California, is 8-3 (3 KOs). All three defeats came against prospects — decision losses to Abdullah Mason and Charlie Sheehy, both of whom are signed with Top Rank, and a points defeat to Anthony Cuba, just seen on March 30 giving Curmel Moton a tough test. Rebollar has won two in a row, including a unanimous decision over previously unbeaten Omar Rosario last November.

Saturday, April 20: Juergen Uldedaj vs. Damir Beljo (DAZN, time TBA)

This main event takes place at BMW Park in Munich, Germany.

Uldejaj is a 26-year-old cruiserweight originally from Albania and now fighting out of Germany. He lost a points decision about a year ago to an 8-3 opponent named Benoit Huber but returned with a win this February, outpointing a 7-2 foe named John Franck Mendy. That brought Uldejaj’s record to 16-1 (6 KOs).

He faces Beljo, a 39-year-old from Bosnia And Herzegovina. Beljo also recently returned from his first pro defeat. That loss came via second-round technical knockout to Aleksei Papin in late 2022. Beljo took about a year off but didn’t give himself much time to shake off ring rust, spending 131 seconds knocking out an outmatched, winless 0-10 opponent named Marko Petricevic last October.

Saturday, April 20: Sam Noakes vs. Yvan Mendy (TNT Sports 1, 10 p.m. BST)

In this main event from York Hall in London, undefeated lightweight Noakes takes on the experienced Mendy.

Noakes, a 26-year-old from Maidstone, is 13-0 (13 KOs). He’s coming off a February fourth-round TKO of another undefeated opponent, Lewis Sylvester.

Mendy, a 38-year-old from France, is 48-6-1 (22 KOs). He’s been in with some notable names, losing to Edis Tatli, going 1-1 against Luke Campbell, and dropping a decision in his most recent defeat, against Denys Berinchyk in 2022. Since then, Mendy took a split decision last May over previously unbeaten Bastien Ballesta.

Follow David Greisman on Twitter @FightingWords2. His book, “Fighting Words: The Heart and Heartbreak of Boxing,” is available on Amazon.