Ryan Garcia trainer Derrick James feels vindicated following Garcia’s upset win against Devin Haney on Saturday night.

The 2022 trainer of the year had a forgettable 2023 campaign due to Errol Spence Jr. suffering a one-sided stoppage loss to Terence Crawford and Jermell Charlo losing a landslide unanimous decision to Saul “Canelo” Alvarez. 

James also guided Frank Martin to eking out a razor-thin win and helped kickstart Anthony Joshua’s revival for two fights, before AJ chose to train in the U.K. instead of the U.S. James also linked up with Garcia for the first time, helping him to a knockout win against Oscar Duarte in December.

James, a 52-year-old former fighter turned coach, got his first bite at the 2024 apple on Saturday, and Garcia ended up chewing up Haney and knocking him down three times to score the majority decision win.

“I feel accomplished,” James told the media after the fight. “I feel like I did my job. And that's what it's all about.

“I think it would have to be the most satisfying [win of my training career]. You know what? I'm going to say it was great, because I don't want to put anyone's situation over anyone else. ... For me to get to this level, I did it myself. A Hall of Fame trainer didn’t teach me. Nobody taught me anything. I pushed myself to this level. I'm an underdog anyway. Even now, the level that I’m on, they’re still counting me out.”

Garcia was counted out as well coming into the fight, and was billed as a massive underdog due to his prefight antics and what was seen as a clear dearth of boxing skills when compared to the seemingly superior Haney.

Although Garcia blew the 140-pound limit for the fight by 3.2 pounds, he proved to have more than enough skills – and, most importantly, power – to dominate Haney.

“It's good for Ryan,” James said. “I'm happy for him. He really beat him up bad. Did you see [Haney’s swollen] face? It was crazy [how dominant he was]. I didn't believe it.”

“I think it would have been better for [Haney] to get knocked out [early] because it's going to be hard to recover from getting beat up like that. He's a good fighter. He'll be back. He's still young. He can be hungry. He's 25. 

“The game plan was always about taking everything from [Haney]. Once I saw Ryan bring the jab and walk to him, he retreated and opened Haney up.”

Garcia outlanded Haney 106 to 87, with 95 of his connects being power punches. All three knockdowns came courtesy of his trademark left hook.

With a career-best win now under Garcia’s belt, James is next looking forward to seeing his charge grow inside and outside of the ring.

The no-nonsense Texan wants the 25-year-old Garcia to dial down his antics.

"Man, I hope so. I'm not into that,” James said. “I'm on the low. I don't really move like that. I don't like the negativity. My daughters are in school, and kids be talking to them about whatever Ryan is doing, and this and that. I told him that not only does it affect you, it affects everybody else."

Manouk Akopyan is a sports journalist, writer and broadcast reporter. He’s also a member of the Boxing Writers Association of America and the MMA Journalists Association. He can be reached on X (formerly Twitter), Instagram, LinkedIn and YouTube at @ManoukAkopyan, through email at manouk[dot]akopyan[at]gmail.com, or via www.ManoukAkopyan.com.