HomeSportsGarcia's erratic behavior in the spotlight before the confrontation with Haney

Garcia’s erratic behavior in the spotlight before the confrontation with Haney

<span>Devin Haney and Ryan Garcia face off at the Empire State Building on Tuesday ahead of their WBC super lightweight title fight.  </span><span>Photo: Roy Rochlin/Getty Images for Empire State Realty Trust</span>” src=”https://s.yimg.com/ny/api/res/1.2/w19s1i49GLLEXQKXLhH5bw–/YXBwaWQ9aGlnaGxhbmRlcjt3PTk2MDtoPTU3Ng–/https://media.zenfs.com/en/the_guardian_765/91ade87b1e89a890369cf 771f4d35ae5″ data-src= “https://s.yimg.com/ny/api/res/1.2/w19s1i49GLLEXQKXLhH5bw–/YXBwaWQ9aGlnaGxhbmRlcjt3P Tk2MDtoPTU3Ng–/https://media.zenfs.com/en/the_guardian_765/91ade87b1e89a890369cf771f 4d35ae5″/><button class=

Devin Haney and Ryan Garcia face off atop the Empire State Building on Tuesday ahead of their WBC super lightweight title fight. Photo: Roy Rochlin/Getty Images for Empire State Realty Trust

One of the most unusual build-ups to a major prizefight in recent memory came no closer to normality Thursday afternoon as Devin Haney and Ryan Garcia came together for the final press conference ahead of their intriguing but unsettling super lightweight world title fight in Brooklyn.

On paper, it’s an event of the caliber that is all too rare in boxing today: a glorious match between two of America’s brightest young stars, both 25 years old and at the top of their athletic prime with extensive top-flight experience. But it has been almost completely overshadowed by Garcia’s erratic behavior, both in person and on social media, calling into question the New York State Athletic Commission’s responsibility in assessing a fighter’s mental fitness and whether Saturday’s fight at Barclays Center should even take place.

Any hope of reassurance about Garcia’s state of mind was quickly dashed Thursday, when he took the stage in a black flak jacket in front of the assembled media to spout a series of barely coherent, expletive-strewn comments before handing the microphone to Haney after a disheartening gave up. seconds. That was before he sent out a series of unprintable, sexualized taunts at members of Haney’s team.

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“There’s something wrong with this son of a bitch,” Haney said from the podium moments later. “This stuff is not normal.”

Somewhere among these disturbing extracurricular activities, a riveting sports competition takes place. The promotion has largely been marketed around their amateur rivalry, a total of six fights with each fighter winning three. But while Garcia may be the bigger star today — with more than 10.5 million Instagram followers and 7.5 million more on TikTok — there’s no doubt that Haney is the most talented boxer and a heavy favorite based on merit. The Bay Area native, undefeated in 31 professional appearances, unified all four major titles at 135 pounds with a career-best win over Vasiliy Lomachenko in May before moving up to 140 pounds to become a two-weight champion with an impressive shutout Regis Prograis to win the WBC version of the super lightweight title on the line Saturday night.

At his mental and physical best, it was never going to be an easy night for Garcia, who like Amir Khan half a generation before him, is developing a commendable reputation for taking on challenges that seem a bridge too far. A taste of the fight. The Orange County native put his undefeated record on the line against Gervonta Davis last year and made several unfavorable concessions to get the negotiations over the line. While he was stopped by a banging body shot in the seventh round, with an apparent lack of urgency to beat the count that some critics labeled a business decision, Garcia was credited with putting on a crossover fight that had people clamoring and a downward spiral. bad sport is desperately needed.

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But while he bounced back admirably from that first professional setback with an eighth-round stoppage of Oscar Duarte in December, Garcia’s highly inconsistent behavior in recent months has almost completely diminished his status as the young face of boxing. Since the bicoastal press tour announcing the fight in which Haney claimed to smell alcohol on his rival’s breath, Garcia’s once-polished social media presence has degenerated into a disturbing haze of conspiracy theories and apparent cries for help, not least an X Spaces stream with Andrew Tate (and subsequent tweetstorm) where he claimed he had been kidnapped by “the elites” of Bohemian Grove, the secretive club in Sonoma County for the wealthy, and “forced to watch children being raped.”

Of course, this is boxing and there is no small chance that the Californian’s antics are a deeply cynical ploy to keep eyes on the fight. Garcia’s follower count across all platforms has increased by at least 3 million since the announcement, a spike no doubt fueled by rubberneckers curious about what has often given the impression of a real-time nervous breakdown. But if so, Garcia’s dedication to this piece would be worthy of an Academy Award. Regardless, he reportedly passed a psychological evaluation by the NYSAC on Tuesday, clearing the way for New York’s most lucrative fight in years.

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For Haney, whose domestic profile has yet to keep pace with all he has accomplished at such a young age, it has been all business since the day the contract was signed. Dressed from head to toe in black behind Yves Saint Laurent sunglasses, he spoke calmly on Thursday about the task that awaited him.

“The time is very close,” Haney said. “It’s been a long time. The talking is almost done. This is not an easy fight, but this is a fight that I’m going to make look easy. Through all the antics, through everything, I kept my blinders on and stayed focused “I have tunnel vision. It will become clear on Saturday.”

• In the US, you can call or text Mental Health America at 988 or chat at 988lifeline.org. In the UK, the charity Mind is available on 0300 123 3393 and Childline on 0800 1111. In Australia, support is available from Beyond Blue on 1300 22 4636, Lifeline on 13 11 14 and MensLine on 1300 789 978.

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