Ryan Garcia and Devin Haney are amateur rivals who have circled each other for years in the pro ranks.
by Joseph Santoliquito |
LAS VEGAS — During his career, Oscar De La Hoya never avoided anyone. It is what made him a Hall of Famer and appreciated to this day by boxing fans. Now, “The Golden Boy” wears a new hat as CEO of Golden Boy Promotions and you can sense the fighter in him surfacing when it comes to making fights like he recently did between WBC junior welterweight titlist Devin Haney and Ryan Garcia.
Haney (31-0, 15 knockouts) is The Ring’s No. 1 junior welterweight contender, while Garcia (24-1, 20 KO) will be fighting for his first title when the two 25-year-old superstars meet on April 20 in Las Vegas on DAZN.
Done! @RyanGarcia @Realdevinhaney @DAZNBoxing pic.twitter.com/0J8LxWVpaQ
— Oscar De La Hoya (@OscarDeLaHoya) February 9, 2024
Haney-Garcia will answer an ongoing battle between the two since they were teenaged amateurs, when they fought each other six times, each winning three.
“I haven’t been this excited for a fight in quite a while, and this fight here has me excited, just the fact that they are both in their prime makes this special,” De La Hoya said. “This is a great start to 2024. I am very proud of Ryan Garcia and Devin Haney. Ryan fought Tank (Davis), and now is fighting Haney. This could be the start of a major career for Ryan. And Devin Haney, fighting (Regis) Prograis, and now fighting Ryan, it brings back great memories of mine from the 1990s and early-2000s when fighters fought each other.
“The best fought the best. Hopefully, we are on to something. Hopefully we can start a trend here and April 20 will be the beginning. We are working on a venue. This fight was not tough to make. A lot of details were involved, and did take hours and hours, and days, and we finally ironed everything out. Everyone is happy. The response from social media and from the fans has been incredible.”
Haney is coming off a tremendous 2023 in which he beat Vasiliy Lomachenko in defense of the lightweight world championship he won over George Kambosos in 2022, and then later took the WBC 140-pound belt from Prograis in a dominating, shutout decision.
IT’S OFFICIAL: @Realdevinhaney will defend his WBC Super-Lightweight Title against @RyanGarcia on Apr. 20 in Las Vegas.#HaneyGarcia l Live on pic.twitter.com/DUzGWpoU11
— PPV.COM (@ppv_com) February 9, 2024
Haney’s 2023 performance gained him recognition as one of The Ring’s and BWAA’s contenders for 2023 Fighter of the Year, which went to Japan’s Naoya Inoue, the junior featherweight world champion.
Garcia opened 2023 with a valiant effort in April in a seventh-round TKO loss to Davis, which generated a reported 1.2 million buys and more than $22 million at the gate before a sellout crowd at the T-Mobile Arena.
Garcia closed the year with an eighth-round TKO over Oscar Duarte in December.
“I do now have to make an argument here that Ryan is on the verge of becoming that fighter who takes on all challengers,” De La Hoya said. “He took on Tank. Then he took on Duarte, who was not a walk in the park after a loss, and now he is coming right back fighting one of the best fighters on the planet.
“That, right there, is very admirable. Like I said before, I am very, very proud of him. Ryan has held smaller belt, and this will be the first chance to win a major title.”
De La Hoya also stressed the fight carries great significance to Golden Boy Promotions. He has worked with Bob Arum and Top Rank before. Golden Boy and Premier Boxing Champions (PBC) worked together to put one of the most anticipated shows in 2023, the Davis-Garcia fight.
De La Hoya said Golden Boy has the best roster in boxing, highlighted by stars like Garcia, undefeated 25-year-old Vergil Ortiz Jr., undefeated 27-year-old Jaime Munguia, The Ring’s No. 5-rated super middleweight, undefeated 27-year-old William Zepeda and IBF/WBO strawweight world champion Yokasta Valle.
“There’s no doubt we have the best roster in boxing,” De La Hoya said. “I also think we are building the next generation with fighters like Floyd Schofield and I guarantee 2024 will be the biggest year of Golden Boy boxing, in the history of our existence.
“I also want to put out a message that I want to bring all promoters together. We need to work with each other, and I am very open to that. I have always been open to work with everybody. That’s the way you get things done. That is the way you get the big fights.
“My message to all major promoters is simple: We all want to make the fans happy. I really do believe every fighter wants to fight the best. If we can iron out the details, leave our egos at home, we can get things done. Garcia-Haney is a perfect example of that. We need to do it for the sport and for the fans.
“This took me weeks to get done. The fighter in me never leaves. I fought the very best and with this half of my life, I am putting all my energies into being the best promoter I can be.”
Joseph Santoliquito is an award-winning sportswriter who has been working for Ring Magazine/RingTV.com since October 1997 and is the president of the Boxing Writers Association of America.Follow @JSantoliquito