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Ryan Garcia Shocks The World With Haney Victory But Fails To Win Title After Missing Weight, Referee Partially Ruins Bout, Barboza Wins Controversially

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NEW YORK, NEW YORK - APRIL 20: Ryan Garcia celebrates after defeating Devin Haney in a fight at Barclays Center on April 20, 2024 in New York City. (Photo by Cris Esqueda/Golden Boy/Getty Images)

April 20th had a lot in surprises in store, and none more than the main event between WBC 140 lbs champion Devin Haney and Ryan Garcia which saw the latter win surprisingly despite the odds against him. The jointly-promoted event between Golden Boy Promotions and Matchroom Boxing was held at the Barclays Center in New York City, New York.

The behavior of Ryan Garcia (25-1, 20 KO’s) prior to his match against Devin Haney (31-1, 15 KO’s) had heavily tilted the odds of winning in Haney’s favor. However, Garcia arguably put up his best performance on fight night, culminating in a majority decision (MD) win for him despite Haney having been a heavy favorite.

It should be noted that Ryan Garcia failed to make weight at the official weigh-in, coming in three pounds overweight which resulted in the match not being sanctioned as a title bout, preventing Garcia from winning the title and Haney from defending it. Additionally, Haney has been confirmed to be allowed to retain his WBC title following his MD Loss.

The match between Ryan Garcia and Devin Haney was controversial, exciting and competitive; with the end result being rather anti-climatic. From the onset, it seemed that Garcia’s pre-match antics had affected Haney’s gameplan as the WBC champion chose to fight Garcia in the pocket and in the middle of the ring―rather than boxing from range as usual.

It would be a decision that Devin Haney would rue, as the first round already saw Ryan Garcia land a left hand that clearly buzzed Haney and may have heavily damaged his jaw. The biggest factor was that Garcia proved too big, strong and fast for Haney who is used to being the bigger man himself.

In fact, this factor seems to have determined the outcome of the match, with Devin Haney’s continued decision to attempt to fight in the middle of the ring―as he had promised during their pre-match press conference―backfiring heavily despite Haney winning several rounds after the first. Haney’s punches seemed unable to affect Garcia, with a multitude landing cleanly on Garcia’s body or head yet doing nothing to truly damage Garcia. In turn, every punch from Garcia that landed clearly hurt Haney―and Garcia had several opportunities to finish the match by knockout or stoppage but was unable to capitalize.

During the seventh round, Devin Haney seemed to be winning on the scorecards after using all of his available skill to outland Ryan Garcia in the previous rounds, but a knockdown by Garcia completely turned the match upside down and signaled a potential change in fortunes for Garcia.

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NEW YORK, NEW YORK – APRIL 20: Ryan Garcia (white trunks) knocks down Devin Haney (gray trunks) during their WBC Super Lightweight title bout at Barclays Center on April 20, 2024 in New York City. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)

More knockdowns would ensue, with three being counted in total but likely more had occurred that the referee had ruled as slips. Tremendously, the presiding referee over the bout, Harvey Dock, proved to be the most controversial point of reference in the match as he seemed to heavily favor Haney; not only due to ruling perceived knockdowns as slips, but also by allowing excessive holding to occur from both sides.

The referee further deducted a point from Garcia in the seventh round for punching Haney after the break; which was one of the few decisions that might have been truly warranted, but seemed a bit too strict given the referee had not penalized either fighter for excessively holding or clinching in the rounds prior or after this decision.

By the end of the twelfth round, it seemed obvious that Garcia had grabbed a pivotal win; which was heavily helped by the three official knockdowns he held over Haney, and Garcia was named the deserving winner by majority decision after scorecards of 112-112, 114-110, and 115-109. Despite the victory, Garcia will not obtain the WBC 140 lbs title due to missing weight in the official weigh-ins.

The bout between Ryan Garcia and Devin Haney will be registered as one of the most memorable bouts of this year, especially considering the antics by Garcia prior to his April 20th match―which made Garcia a heavy underdog according to betting odds. However, Garcia’s unprofessional behavior prior to the match―and greater size on the night of the fight, proved to be key advantages for the American 140 lbs contender, culminating in a certain victory for him.

While both fighters spoke of a rematch with each other in the post-match interviews, there does not appear to be a rematch clause in their bout contract which might result in the two fighters continuing on with their respective careers. As Haney still holds the WBC title, he will be obligated to face Sandor Martin (42-3, 15 KO’s) who has been confirmed as the WBC mandatory challenger at super lightweight.

The main event between Haney and Garcia was not the only surprise that occurred, with some undercard fights proving to be controversial in their own right. Particularly, the ten-round 140 lbs title match between highly-rated American Arnold Barboza Jr (30-0, 11 KO’s) and Irishman Sean McComb (18-2, 5 KO’s) may have been a “robbery” despite Barboza winning by split-decision (SD) with scorecards of 92-98, 96-94, and 97-93. Barboza also retained his WBO inter-continental 140 lbs title as a result.

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NEW YORK, NEW YORK – APRIL 20: Sean McComb lands a punch on Arnold Barboza Jr. during a fight at Barclays Center on April 20, 2024 in New York City. (Photo by Cris Esqueda/Golden Boy/Getty Images)

The first judge’s score of 92-98 in favor of McComb might have been the only right scorecard as Barboza appeared to have lost too many rounds to net a win, finding it difficult to deal with McComb’s long reach, Barboza’s usual style from boxing at range himself no longer proved effective. Barboza was unable to adapt, and McComb’s additional use of combinations should have seen McComb grab a close, if not tightknit, victory. However, Barboza was controversially announced as the winner by split-decision instead.

At super flyweight, American contender John Ramirez (13-1, 9 KO’s) and Costa Rican fighter David Jimenez (16-1, 11 KO’s) fought over the vacant WBA interim 115 lbs world title, but it was underdog Jimenez who grabbed a surprising win by unanimous decision (UD) after a course of twelve rounds. The two fought up close in what turned out to be a slugfest, but it appeared Jimenez’ power gave him the edge with Ramirez looking worse for wear following the match.

Despite the controversial nature of the main event and the build-up of the fight card, the Golden Boy Promotions and Matchroom proved to be capable of being decent partners through their shared broadcaster of DAZN; a partnership that will hopefully lead to less controversy in the future.

While several of the matches underwent questionable decisions or results, the overall standing of boxing seems intact and might even have elevated following last Saturday’s result, with Garcia’s win over Haney likely having spurred more interest into the sport when the opposite had been predicted.