Oscar De La Hoya believes that Ryan Garcia has “got into the head” of Devin Haney, and that Haney is therefore at risk of abandoning his game plan. 

Haney, the WBC super lightweight champion, pushed his long-term rival when they came face-to-face at The Empire State Building on Tuesday, five days before they contest his title at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York.

The rivalry that dates back to their days as amateurs when they fought six times and won three times each has become increasingly heated and personal, and to the extent that their confrontation on Tuesday came with Devin’s father, trainer and manager Bill issuing a death threat.

Haney, like Garcia 25, is regardless recognised as the most disciplined of fighters, as he demonstrated again on the occasion of what represented his finest win. In May 2023 he pushed Vasily Lomachenko when they weighed in for their fight for the undisputed lightweight title, but the following day he produced perhaps the most calculated performance of his career.

De La Hoya, whose organisation Golden Boy Promotions is overseeing Saturday’s fight, retired having endured intense rivalries with Fernando Vargas, Ricardo Mayorga and Floyd Mayweather, all of which involved him fighting with a degree of emotion. It was his rivalry with Vargas, who he stopped in 2004, that Haney-Garcia most reminds him of, but it is comparisons between Mayweather and Garcia that he considered most apt.

“It’s gonna be an intense fight,” he said. “These guys can’t stand each other, so if they take that energy inside the ring it’s gonna be a hell of a fight. It’s gonna be fast-paced. [Garcia’s] right where he wants to be. Look at him. He’s ready. He’s on point. 

“It gives me confidence that he got under Haney’s skin. I’ve never seen Devin like that. Man, he pushed him. He’s rattled. He’s like – Ryan actually reminds me of the way Floyd used to get into your head, you know? And take you out of your game plan. Ryan took a page out of his book, I think. 

“I’ve never seen Haney like that – pushing him. It’s like, you take the focus away, you know? And now Haney wants to knock him out and go in there, and, well – let’s go. It’s a good sign.

“Probably Vargas [is the most similar rivalry]. Keep in mind, Vargas was a good boxer – he knew how to box. He knew how to dissect you, but he was so angry – so angry – that his game plan goes out the window, ‘cause he wants to knock me out. I can see that happening here with Haney and Ryan. 

“When you’re in the ring, and they get under your skin, your game plan goes out the window. It always happens.

“He got into his head, and come fight night you gotta keep your composure, so we’ll see – we’ll see what happens.”

Concerns surrounding Garcia’s mental health have persisted since attempts to promote Saturday’s fight started. A further concern existed as of Garcia’s appearance in Manhattan on Tuesday, when he looked considerably bigger than a fighter preparing to make 140lbs.

“No concerns whatsoever,” De La Hoya regardless said. “He’ll make weight. 

“He’s been 1000 per cent focused. Serious. What he does on social media takes 10 seconds to pull up. He’s working hard. He’s been working hard for the last two months.”