Clarke: Garcia missing weight limit cheapens win over Haney

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Clarke: Garcia missing weight limit cheapens win over Haney

Sky Sports Boxing commentator Andy Clarke reflects on Ryan Garcia handing Devin Haney his first professional defeat, with the victor being ineligible to win the world title after weighing in over the 140lb limit after a bizarre build-up to the contest…

I find it hard to look back Ryan Garcia’s actions ahead of facing Devin Haney and feel it was all smoke and mirrors or all part of a plan.

That just doesn’t really ring true to me, but it could be that he’s one of these fighters who thrives in a bit of chaos. We’ve seen that down the years and at the moment with someone like Teofimo Lopez – they seem to thrive in that kind of atmosphere and enjoy creating drama in the build-up.

Garcia could be one of those guys, but I don’t believe the build-up and all of the things he was getting up to were all part of a game-plan. It will be interesting to see what he does next time we see him in the build-up to the fight.

Everything he did in the build-up to this fight, in the end, it did work – including coming in 3.2lbs over the weight.

My belief is he will have known from a way out he wasn’t going to make 140 either because he’s outgrown the weight, which is entirely possible but then it’s not safe for him do it anymore, or because he’s maybe hadn’t really trained properly in the early stages and he wasn’t able to do it.

When you miss it by that much, you know a way out you’re not going to be able to make it, so he chose to miss it and take that advantage into the ring – and it is an advantage. I said this on X over the weekend and there have been a lot of replies.

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What a lot of people have been saying which just isn’t true is that ‘oh, it doesn’t make that much difference, it’s only three pounds, they both rehydrate to a higher weight anyway’. If you do rehydrate to a higher weight, which Haney does, then taking those final three pounds off are the worst and most damaging ones.

He did it and Garcia didn’t, and that makes a big, big difference. You’ve agreed to fight at a certain weight, part of your obligation as a professional fighter is to make weight and if you can’t, they will have known that in advance.

What they could have done is had a conversation with Haney and the fight organisers and said ‘we’re not going to be able to do 140 but we want this to be a level playing field, so we’re telling you let’s redraw and rejig’.

Haney only discovered the day before the fight and it’s a reasonable argument people can make to say he didn’t have to take the fight, but back in the real world he was always going to when he discovered at the weigh-in his opponent was 3lb over.

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Ryan Garcia says he always knew he could beat Devin Haney and admits he’s already thinking about who his next fight will be

Maybe there was overconfidence in there, maybe he would have felt differently about it, and maybe he bought into the things Garcia was doing in the build-up and thought he hadn’t trained properly, but he wasn’t given the option with any kind of notice to have a proper think about it so they could both come in at 143.

Yes, he was paid compensation, but that doesn’t erase the original event that your opponent has come in heavy. For me, it cheapens the win and it’s a dangerous thing that they feel like they can agree to one thing and not do it.

If people don’t understand that it makes a big difference, then I don’t know what to tell them. Another argument I’ve heard is ‘Haney has been doing this his whole career, the weight bully got weight-bullied’ – Haney has never done that in his career because he always makes weight then rehydrates.

Fighters choosing to do that is potentially problematic because it’s very, very hard and it has got to be incredibly tough on the body, and you can have somebody who is a couple of weight divisions bigger than their opponent on the night.

Ryan Garcia celebrates after winning a super lightweight boxing match against Devin Haney early Sunday, April 21, 2024, in New York. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

Image: Ryan Garcia celebrates after the verdict for his fight against Devin Haney is announced

But if you do it according to the rules and make the championship weight then what you weigh on the night is your business. The two situations are not comparable because Garcia didn’t do the first bit.

I just really hope he doesn’t do it again. It’s worked this time, they went about things the way they went about them, they got the win which is really massive for his career, and it was a big, big performance on the night.

It was a must-win for him because of what happened against Gervonta Davis. If he’d lost to Haney people would have thought ‘well, he sells tickets, people like him, but he doesn’t belong at this level’.

He got the win, but please, don’t do this again. I’m not saying it’s the first time it’s happened in boxing history, but we can’t have a situation where a fighter is able to decide they can agree to make a weight and whether they do or don’t doesn’t matter.

What next for Haney after first loss?

As far as Haney is concerned, I don’t think this defeat is too damaging for him. The comparisons with Floyd Mayweather are difficult and don’t really do anyone any favours – he had a very close call against Vasiliy Lomachenko that definitely could have gone the other way.

I think he’ll find the circumstances of this one difficult to expect, but now it’s happened that ‘0’ disappearing, I don’t think it’s a bad thing because you don’t really have to think about that again.

What I’ll be interested in is will he continue at super-lightweight or feel like he shouldn’t have to be doing that weight any longer? It’s hard to know which way he’ll go with it because boxing Garcia would, I’d imagine, be the first time he’s boxed anyone on the night who’s the same size as him.

He might look at it and think it had taken too much out of him and he could have held those shots better if he hadn’t had to cut it so low, or he might look at it and think Garcia didn’t do it by making 140 so he’ll keep going with that weight.

Devin Haney pauses after being knocked down during the seventh round of a super lightweight boxing match against Ryan Garcia ealry Sunday, April 21, 2024, in New York. Garcia won the fight. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

Image: What comes next for Devin Haney after his first career defeat?

I feel he’ll keep going at 10 stone and he is a really good fighter, but a first defeat is just that and it’s going to be hard to suck it up.

I would definitely want to see a rematch between Garcia and Haney – if they sign to fight at 140lbs and Garcia does the weight and I feel like he can. That’s a guess because I’m not on the inside, but it’s not long ago he was fighting at 135lbs against Davis and he managed to do that.

That’s why I don’t think all of the stuff in the build-up was smoke and mirrors. I think one of the reasons he would have missed weight was because he probably didn’t get his training under control until a bit too late or maybe it wasn’t ever completely under control.

Again, that’s a guess, but I feel like he can do 140lbs, but to make it he’ll have to train hard and train well, which could make him even better than he was the other night. There are so many parts to it I definitely want to see it again, but if you’re Haney you might be sceptical about signing to fight Garcia again at 140lbs.

But having said that, Garcia has beaten him now, whatever the circumstances, and he is the bigger draw. That wrestle over contractual terms could be pretty intense, I think.

Watch Lauren Price in her first world title fight against Jessica McCaskill on her Welsh homecoming from Cardiff’s Utilita Arena on Saturday, May 11, live on Sky Sports.

Watch the undisputed heavyweight world title clash between Tyson Fury vs Oleksandr Usyk live on Sky Sports Box Office on May 18.

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