Tuesday, April 16

Ryan Garcia isn’t acting.

In the same way it is so often observed that there is no hiding place in a boxing ring, during fight week it becomes similarly difficult for a fighter to hide if they are ill-prepared.

When Garcia fought Gervonta “Tank” Davis in Las Vegas in April 2023, Garcia betrayed the nature of nervous energy that is natural for a fighter entering his biggest fight. The closer they then got to standing on the scales that week, the harder it became for him to hide the extent to which he was struggling to make the catchweight of 136lbs.

To observe him one year on, however, is to reflect on the Garcia of 2023 as almost serene.

If there were times he sounded naive when nearing his fight with the often-calculated Davis, one year on his relative innocence is difficult to detect; he instead appears a fighter on the edge.

His ill-advised use of social media since agreeing to fight Devin Haney at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center on Saturday has regularly portrayed him as someone battling for his mental health and maybe even at risk of unravelling, and while there remain many who have dismissed his behavior as that of someone who knows how to demand attention and therefore ultimately publicise a fight, his behavior on Tuesday suggests a fight is the last thing he needs.

He looked every inch the possible poster boy for American boxing – his boy-next-door, youthful face complemented by a physique that made him look like he was preparing to fight at 147lbs, and not the super-lightweight limit required to challenge for Haney’s WBC title. His physique was consistently on display because he arrived, in a sunlit Manhattan, at the Empire State Building without a top on, and wearing trousers with several tears in them that exposed the ankle weights he was wearing. 

Garcia owes so much of his profile to his marketability, so perhaps his appearance shouldn’t have surprised, but he then didn’t add another layer when at the outdoor viewing platform on the 86th floor of the same building that was so exposed to the strong winds that those around him asked each other how he could possibly withstand the cold. 

If it was tempting to wonder if his was the most distracted of minds – he said little of note and seemed more interested in listening to, on his phone, Tupac’s Hit ‘Em Up – Haney then arrived not only wearing enough layers to resist the cold, but perhaps enough to provide a reminder of how a fighter can often appear when attempting to healthily (if it is possible to do so healthily) make weight.

The last thing Garcia needs is the unforgivably harsh glare he will be exposed to on Saturday. The last thing he needs until Saturday is more time around the Haneys, who seem determined to bully him.

When Haney fought Regis Prograis in December it was difficult not to admire Prograis’ refusal to be intimidated by the attempts of Bill Haney and others in their entourage to unsettle him. Garcia spoke of his frustration about Davis’ timekeeping last year; perhaps it was that that inspired the Haneys’ late arrival on Tuesday. 

Less subtle, regardless, was the Haneys’ wider entourage making sure Garcia felt their physical presence. Garcia, similarly, appears unwilling to be bullied, but unlike Prograis, who appeared to relish his status as the underdog, Garcia’s response – particularly in the context of his erratic behavior since Saturday’s date was confirmed – was more unsettling because he occasionally growled like an animal, and at one point put one of his fingers between his teeth and bit.