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Understand This: Ryan Garcia Is Bad For Boxing

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Image Credit: DAZN

Knock me out for saying this and there will be disagreement. Ryan Garcia, after months and weeks of his antics shut up the critics with a commanding win over Devin Haney Saturday night at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn. Shut me up because I say Ryan Garcia is bad for boxing.

Now, though, Garcia is in command after flooring Haney three times and winning a 12-round majority decision, a fight that saw a number of technical fouls. A fight that saw Garcia deducted points after one of the knockdowns and still came away with the decision. Consider that Haney retained a portion of the junior welterweight title because Garcia failed to make weight and embarrassed the sport with negligence.

From my standpoint, the 25-year old Garcia, though a talented fighter, is bad for the sport. He made his statement and the popularity dwindled a bit, over 15 million social media followers followed his antics. Garcia says the next fight will be contested at 147 or challenge Sebastian Fundora for the 154 pound title.

Basically, Garcia said he can’t make weight at 140. He looked like a 154 pound fighter Saturday night and disrespected the ceremony weigh- in when stepping on the scales. He put up the middle finger, sipped what was reported to be beer, though Garcia later retorted it was water.

Regardless, Garcia made a statement getting the win over his adversary, though still without a championship because of his neglect to respect standards of boxing, that is making weight and honoring a contract.  Promoter Oscar De La Hoya said about his fighter, “Ryan is calling all the shots, If anybody wants to make money, they have to fight Ryan.”

Image Credit: Compubox

So true because his fighter is a draw at the box office, but a bad image for the sport. Preliminary DAZN pay-per-view numbers are not available, but estimates are close to a million purchased to view and speculate about the mental state of Garcia. Though last week there was constant speculation and concern over his well being. Was the fight in jeopardy, or was this a Ryan Garcia way to hype a fight?  A fighter who is beset with issues, last year, Garcia admitted he suffered from Mental illness and anxiety.  The New York State Athletic Commission was advocating a mental and psychological evaluation of Garcia and last week they quickly rescinded their demand as sources informed me the evaluation was lifted after a phone chat with the fighter.

Garcia, was going to have a mental breakdown in the ring? Would he become a deranged individual when Haney went on his attack? Neither, though, happened until the final minute of the last round when Garcia mimicked Haney and stuck out his tongue.

Again, though, as much as I admire his talent, and I got to know Garcia before his pro debut in  2016, he is a detriment to boxing. I can sympathize with mental illness. I can admire the speed and power that Garcia exhibits in the ring. He reminds me of greats I covered in that era of the 1980’s including Hagler, Hearns, Leonard, and Duran.

Image Credit: DAZN

I can’t be an advocate of his social media posts, disturbing. Though over the years hyping a mega fight as this was has had antics from two adversaries that result in hugs and embracing each other when the battle is over.

Garcia and Haney had a brief embrace, not very cordial after their battle There is animosity, once close friends as amateurs who fought each other six times and this was the Game 7. There could be a rematch and Haney deserves one, and if so it would not be at 140, possibly a catch weight at 147. Haney also wants to move up in weight and the boxing fan would like to see this again. They said this was fight of the year, a candidate to be labeled as one, though Fundora and Tim Tszyu (for the 154-pound title)  had a bloodbath and 12-rounds of combat last month, to me fight of the year.

Yes, I want to see this fight again. Regardless, though, I believe Ryan Garcia is bad for boxing. I state my case with his antics during the last month:

Garcia pulled conspiracy theories about the Francis Scott Key Bridge collapse that saw lives lost and an earthquake of 4.5 magnitude that hit an area of the east coast a few weeks ago. He claimed to be kidnapped and forced to watch kids being raped at a rich country club. I would rather not publish and will leave that to the psychological experts. 

He spilled hate messages about Haney and his father Bill, not innocent threatening  that his son (Devin) would kill Garcia in the ring. He admitted to drinking alcohol during training camp. And during fight week in the wee hours of the morning was seen shirtless at a night spot in New York City and having a good time. 

Much more to chronicle. And after his victory early Sunday morning, Garcia posted he and others smoking weed. He and De La Hoya stormed out of Citi Field last week and blamed the New York Mets for wasting their time when they were denied throwing out a first pitch. Owner Steve Cohen was not content with his entourage and antics, also stemming from an altercation of push and shove with Haney earlier that day on the observation deck of the Empire State Building.

True fighters can be characters. Some, Ricardo Mayorga would enter the ring with a cigarette and whiskey bottle in his hand.  Hall of Famer Hector “Macho” Camacho was not a great ambassador of the sport outside the ring. Neither was Hall of Famer and heavyweight champion  Mike Tyson who threatened to eat the children of then champion Lennox Lewis, stated in the ring after his win.

It’s a part of the sweet science, characters. Ryan Garcia., though, is not fooling myself. A young and talented fighter, though a detriment to boxing and despite his denials and claiming we don’t know his issues outside the ring, not a good role model.

Boxing does not need these theatrics, a sport that remains strong and hardly gets minimal mainstream attention. And what Ryan Garcia displayed leading up to this fight with Devin Haney was more than theatrics.

It was a display of a disturbed young and talented fighter, a mega star with millions of dollars. But a fighter that needs severe attention and not for his appeal. He does more harm and damage and that needs attention.

Rich Mancuso: X (Formerly Twitter) @Ring 786 Mancuso

Rich Mancuso is a regular contributor at NY Sports Day, covering countless New York Mets, Yankees, and MLB teams along with some of the greatest boxing matches over the years. He is an award winning sports journalist and previously worked for The Associated Press, New York Daily News, Gannett, and, in a career that spans almost 40 years.

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