There are those who are looking forward to April 20 so that Devin Haney and Ryan Garcia can finally step in the ring – and then there are the rest of us who want them to fight just so Garcia will finally stop talking and tweeting. 

If only we could enjoy silence before then. After then, too.

This has been one of the worst pre-fight builds for a major boxing match — the Haney-Garcia pay-per-view will stream on DAZN and — in recent memory. Not because of those whose jobs are to market the show. But rather because there have been so many moments and incidents that have ranged on the spectrum from stupid and annoying to ugly and offensive.

Almost all of that has come from Garcia, whose words and actions have been both worrisome and bothersome. 

In March alone, his social media accounts posted that Garcia had been murdered. Soon after, Garcia claimed he had been locked out of his credit cards and social-media accounts.

While speaking online with an accused human trafficker, Garcia told a story of being kidnapped, brought to a wooded area and forced to watch illegal, explicit videos

Days later, Garcia seemed to recognize a need to change his ways. “I’m here to announce my return back to Instagram,” he said. “Over these past couple days, you guys have seen some pretty intense things. I understand what they are and I understand what they look like. 

“But I’m coming back to announce I’m not going to speak on any other topic other than boxing, sports and my fight. That’s the only thing I’m going to be talking about. And I’m in training for this fight. I want everybody to know, this fight is still on [April 20]. Five weeks of super focus.”

That didn’t last. 

He’s since ranted on X’s (formerly known as Twitter) Spaces features — a community audio gathering — and argued online with boxing fans. 

Garcia, in one breath, said he wouldn’t speak about something he’s not fully educated about, then in the other said he didn’t know whether George Floyd died because of the way police officer Derek Chauvin pinned him down with his knee.

He veered toward conspiracy theories regarding the container boat that crashed into Key Bridge in Baltimore, causing the bridge to collapse and killing six people: “The bridge collapsed fairly fast and looked sus [suspicious] in a way due to the matter [sic, he meant “manner”] it collapsed.”

He allowed a prankster’s false claim to spread for too long that, at some point, Garcia had predicted a tragedy in Baltimore would take place on the exact date the Key Bridge collapse occurred. He’s suggested any clairvoyance on his part is the Holy Spirit speaking through him.

That’s not even an exhaustive list. But it is exhausting enough on its own.

Brian Campbell of CBS Sports included even more from Garcia in an excellent column on March 13. And of course, Garcia has done even more since then.

“In recent weeks Garcia has said he was raped as a child; that he has witnessed rapes; that he knows who killed Tupac Shakur; that the sports drink PRIME, co-founded by YouTube influencers KSI and Logan Paul, contains cyanide and that anyone who drinks PRIME is ‘working for Satan’,” wrote Chris Mannix of Sports Illustrated on March 18. “Last week, Garcia posted a video of him jogging down the streets of Dallas asking random people if they supported pedophiles. Haney has accused Garcia’s behavior as being fueled by cocaine, a charge Garcia has denied.”

There have been questions and concerns about Garcia’s mental health, about what responsibilities his promoter and manager have toward their fighter. Is it better for Garcia’s mental health if the fight is canceled? Or is it better if the fight moves forward and Garcia continues in his training camp, which hopefully provides him with some much-needed structure amid a crisis? 

“Ryan is OK – he’s just trolling the wrong way,” Ryan’s father, Henry, posted online earlier in March after the posts claiming his son had been murdered.

“99% of what I’m doing is trolling,” Ryan Garcia said himself in late February.

Garcia’s promoters, Oscar De La Hoya and Bernard Hopkins of Golden Boy Promotions, both believe — or are at least saying publicly — that their fighter is training as he should be and will be ready to perform against Haney.

Perhaps they truly do know better. Perhaps Garcia really is only trolling. Or maybe they have a combination of rose-colored glasses and a conflict of interest. They want Garcia to be able to fight; for Garcia not to lose out on a big payday and opportunity for himself, and for his team not to lose out on their cut from this fight, never mind any future ramifications they would face if this fight were to be called off.

Garcia claimed in mid-March that the New York State Athletic Commission had called on him to have a psychological evaluation. We don’t know whether that’s true; the commission chairman declined to comment to Mike Coppinger of Whatever the truth, the fight remains scheduled for Barclays Center in Brooklyn in less than three weeks.

Haney is at least doing what he can to publicize the fight, including making the rounds and doing media interviews. Even then, the topic of Garcia’s antics dominates the theme of those stories.

“According to him, it’s fake,” Haney said in that Sports Illustrated article. “It is trolling. So I don’t know. I can’t focus on his team and what they’re doing. It might just be all a plan, like he said, to sell the fight. But if it is, it is a very odd way to do it. I can’t say. I don't know until fight night to see if it actually is working as in selling the fight or if it’s getting people drawn away from the fight.”

There’s a saying about fights that sell themselves from the moment they’re announced. Every fight needs marketing. But what this means is that fans are drawn in by the stakes and the styles alone. The fight is big, or at least important. We not only want to see what happens, but how it happens. 

That’s not to say there’s no place for trash talk and tense confrontations; for heated moments and incendiary quotes adding fuel to the fire and heightening anticipation. These are professional athletes, after all – and fighters at that. There’s no requirement for decorum. No one should expect respect. There are still lines that shouldn’t be crossed.

For those who want responsibility and accountability, it doesn’t help that this sport exists in lieu of leagues beholden to advertisers and sponsors; in lieu of strong boxing media asking powerbrokers tough questions on-the-record and on-camera, and in lieu of mainstream media caring much about boxing. Boxing’s reputation as the red-light district of sports also factors into this.

On the other end of the spectrum, all of the above helps completely for those who want to earn money. But Haney-Garcia is a good fight that could easily have been marketed on its merits, its participants, their past history, and their collision course. 

Haney, 31-0 (15 KOs), is a former undisputed lightweight champion who moved up to the 140-pound division in December and impressed with a shutout of former titleholder Regis Prograis. 

Garcia, 24-1 (20 KOs), is a former lightweight contender also plying his trade these days at junior welterweight. After losing to Gervonta Davis via a body-shot knockout In April 2023 Garcia has a second chance to prove whether he belongs with the elite.

They’re both young — each is 25 years old — good-looking American fighters with sizable social media followings. Garcia’s online presence, in particular, made him a box-office draw well before he had actually accomplished much of substance in the ring. They are well-acquainted, facing each other six times as amateurs. The natural storyline is that their rivalry has finally picked back up several years into their pro careers.

But even then, the marketing effort struggles and sputters.

The first few minutes of their “Face Off” conversation — moderated by Mannix, who also works for DAZN — focused for some reason on the high-schoolish explanations for why they don’t like each other anymore – including why Garcia thinks Haney is fake. It got bogged down when Haney called Garcia a one-trick pony, which deserved more exploration but instead led to an exasperating exchange that felt like an Abbott and Costello routine.

Garcia said: “Have I knocked people out with the right hand before?”

Haney responded: “Who?”

Garcia: “I don’t know, but have I?”

Haney: “Who?”

Garcia: “Have I?”

Haney: “Who?”

Garcia: “Have I knocked out someone with the right hand?”

Haney: “Tell me who.”

Garcia: “Have I knocked out someone with the right hand?”

Haney: “Tell me who.”

Garcia: “I just said, have I knocked out…”

Haney: “But I’m talking about on the elite level.”

They had an extended argument about whether Haney gave Garcia a standing eight count in their final amateur meeting – something that doesn’t much matter years after the fact. We’ve seen countless examples of fights that go one way in the amateurs but differently in the pros. Their intertwined amateur backgrounds should be treated as a prologue for today’s story – not necessarily as a predictor in what will happen. A reasonable follow-up question for each fighter would’ve been why they feel their amateur history will – or won’t – have a bearing on April 20, or how they’ve changed or grown since then.

Then again, it’s not surprising that they would be so fixated on the past, given how much each of them also got caught up on what happened, or didn’t happen, when a teenaged, amateur Haney sparred with Davis when “Tank” was a young pro.

And at one point Garcia predicted that their pay-per-view will sell a massive 1.5 million buys. “I might mess around and get 2 [million],” he said.

Their online reach is admittedly sizable — their “Face Off” video had already been viewed 1.7 million times in the first four days since it was published.

Advance ticket sales haven’t appeared the strongest, however. This is no surprise, given that Haney is from the Bay Area and fights out of Las Vegas, Garcia is from southern California, and tickets were priced rather high. Neither has headlined in New York before. Each has fought there only once.

As of April 2 there were about 8,000 tickets – including verified resale tickets – still available on Ticketmaster. Barclays Center has in the past had a capacity of more than 18,000 people for boxing. Davis’ fight with Rolando Romero in 2022 brought in nearly 19,000.

Haney-Garcia could still do well, whether on pay-per-view, at the box office, or both. If so, it will be in spite of Garcia’s actions, not because of them.

Here’s another saying – no publicity is bad publicity. That’s not completely true.

Yes, plenty of fighters have willingly assumed the role of villain, making people dislike them enough to pay to see them lose. Floyd Mayweather Jr. expertly figured out how to be both an antihero and, in professional wrestling terminology, a heel. 

Garcia is neither. While he has his devotees, he also reminds of another wrestling term – go-away heat. His antics haven’t elevated the excitement or amped up the tension. Instead, they have sucked all the air out of the room. They have just plain sucked. 

This doesn’t feel like a marketing ploy, and if this is a tactic meant to troll Haney then it is a low and desperate measure — a sign that Garcia feels he can’t win with skills and strategy alone, but with the oddest of mind games before the fight. At least when Roberto Duran taunted “Sugar” Ray Leonard and Leonard’s wife, it was meant to change Leonard’s approach in the ring.

No matter the reason for Garcia’s actions, his will be remembered among the pre-fight shenanigans, the highlights of all those lowlights, the worst sustained assault on our senses since Adrien Broner and Paulie Malignaggi went back-and-forth about “side pieces” and since the ugliness of the Floyd Mayweather-Conor McGregor publicity tour.

Boxing has of course seen its share of pre-fight antics and misbehavior – numerous brawls and skirmishes at press conferences and publicity events; Ricardo Mayorga taunting Cory Spinks’ dead mother, insulting Oscar De La Hoya’s wife and grabbing Shane Mosley’s girlfriend’s rear end; Bernard Hopkins stomping on the Puerto Rican flag; David Haye glassing Dereck Chisora, wearing a shirt depicting the Klitschko brothers’ decapitated heads, and saying his fight with Audley Harrison would be “as one-sided as a gang rape.”

Those were all ugly and should not be excused, but they also were mostly single moments in the overall build-up to their respective fights. 

Everything from Garcia has been too much, and it’s gone on for too long. 

This has become a painful advertisement — less an advertisement for the fight, more an advertisement for the benefits of staying away from social media. For Garcia to do so. But we know he won’t. 

That means we are the ones who’ll need to protect ourselves at all times — to mute or unfollow Garcia’s accounts, scroll past any articles or videos breathlessly recounting the latest and lowest, allow ourselves a palate cleanser, and hopefully renew any excitement we’d previously felt when this fight was announced.

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