Ryan Garcia drops Devin Haney 3 times en route to stunning upset

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

It was a strange juxtaposition Saturday night before a sold-out crowd at Barclays Center in Brooklyn. On one side, Devin Haney promised to make his opponent pay for his antics throughout fight week. Across from him was 25-year-old Ryan Garcia, promising to bring death to his longtime rival while virtually everyone was questioning his mental readiness to fight.

There was no death, and Garcia, labeled "mentally fragile" by many, delivered an upset for the ages and proved the critics wrong.

Garcia put an exclamation point on his pre-fight words by delivering a masterpiece in one of the most polarizing performances in recent memory, scoring three knockdowns of Devin Haney en route to a majority decision.

The judges scored it 112-112, 114-110 and 115-109.

The WBC super lightweight title, which Haney held entering the fight, was no longer at stake as Garcia was 3.2 pounds over the 140-pound limit at Friday's weigh-in. So Haney retains the belt despite the loss.

"I don't give a f*** what people say about me. I walked through the fire and still held it down and still beat f***ing Devin Haney and still drink every day," said Garcia. "Not necessarily am I proud of that, but I'm just saying it was a statement to show you, you guys can't really f*** with me."

According to CompuBox, Haney was the more accurate puncher, but Garcia's blows clearly had the most impact. Garcia landed 106 of 285 punches (37%) and Haney connected on 87 of 214 punches (41%).

Garcia had a tremendous first round, rocking Haney with a massive left hook. Haney immediately clinched to fend off Garcia's attack. For the rest of the frame, Haney appeared slightly gunshy but kept Garcia at bay with his left jab, one of the best in boxing.

Haney, who previously held the undisputed lightweight world title, struck first in the second round, connecting with a stiff left jab that reddened Garcia's nose. With less than a minute remaining, Haney went downstairs with the jab as Garcia looked for counter opportunities. Referee Harvey Dock warned Garcia twice for hitting Haney behind the head twice in the second.

Haney landed the first significant punch of the third round, an overhand right. As the clock approached the two-minute mark, Garcia missed with a big left hook.

With 50 seconds left in the third, Garcia dropped his right hand, and Haney made him pay with a crisp left hook that forced his longtime rival to pound his gloves in frustration.

Haney connected with a left hook with 1:47 remaining in the fourth round as Garcia attempted to use the shoulder roll. Garcia followed up with a right hand, but it didn't have much mustard. Haney kept Garcia on the back foot for the rest of the round, connecting with jabs to the body.

The fifth round started slow until Haney connected with a pull counter right with just under two minutes on the clock. Midway through the round, Haney caught Garcia with a jab that froze him in his tracks. Haney continued dictating the action down the stretch, catching Garcia with a right cross.

The action got a little sloppy in the sixth. Garcia connected with a hard right hand and attempted to smother Haney, following up with a barrage of shots, but most of them missed. Later in the round, Haney was warned for hitting Garcia to the back, although Garcia was the one who had turned his back.

The tables turned in the seventh round when Garcia knocked Haney down with a brutal left hook. Garcia went for the kill but ended up costing himself a point when he hit Haney with a sharp right hand when Dock called for a break. An exhausted Haney went down twice more in the round, but Dock ruled them both slips.

"It was a horrible ref," said Garcia, who is from Victorville, California. "[Haney] was holding me for dear life, and I felt an opportunity to keep swinging while my hands were free and I cracked him. And then he took a point away when I cracked him, but [Haney] held me and then I should have knocked him out in that seventh round.

"They stole that from me. ... And Devin was holding and holding and holding. ... That was ridiculous. That was crazy. I never seen some s*** like that."

Garcia continued to look for the knockout blow in the eighth, but Dock continuously got in between the fighters, angering the crowd, who wished to see more action. Haney tried to muster up some offense with his right hand, but they lacked the zip from before the knockdown.

Haney connected with a pair of left hooks that had Garcia against the ropes with 45 seconds to go in the ninth. However, Garcia caught Haney with a right uppercut moments later to keep him honest. Haney followed up with a barrage of rights to the body when Garcia turned his back.

Garcia dropped Haney with a massive right-left combination in the 10th round for the second knockdown. Haney beat the count, but Garcia jumped back on him again and staggered him with another left hand.

In the 11th round, Garcia measured Haney, looking to land another explosive shot. He rocked Haney again, first with the right and again with the left for a third knockdown, as chants of "Ry-an! Ry-an!" rained from the crowd.

Garcia cruised to the finish, taunting his longtime rival, sticking his tongue out at Haney, and danced to the final bell.

"I'm disappointed about my performance," said Haney (31-1, 15 KOs), 25, during his post-fight interview. "I [showed I] was a true champion and I could fight after being knocked down."

The world questioned whether he was crazy, but Garcia made those who questioned his readiness seem like the crazy ones.

Barboza wins controversial decision

In the co-main event, Arnold Barboza Jr., in his second fight under the Golden Boy banner, defeated Sean McComb in a disputed victory.

McComb appeared to dominate Barboza most of the fight, but it was all for naught.

The fight was fast-paced from the offset. McComb proved tricky as the 31-year-old southpaw used his speed and elusiveness to outmaneuver Barboza.

The second round was closer as Barboza landed a pair of solid right hands. However, McComb continued to leave his chin in the air, allowing Barboza to catch him with a solid counter shot.

By the fourth round, Barboza was effectively switching stances, forcing McComb to fight his fight. At the end of the frame, Barboza had his man pinned against the ropes and connected with a slew of stiff lefts and rights.

That wasn't the case in the second half of the fight. McComb turned things up a notch and began to outbox Barboza. In the seventh round, McComb connected with a three-punch combination, keeping Barboza at bay with his movement.

The Irishman came in with a game plan to not be a stationary target, and they executed it perfectly.

In the eighth round, it was more of the same as McComb connected with a series of punches and pivoted away from Barboza. In the waning seconds, Barboza unloaded a barrage of punches, but McComb was nowhere to be found.

In round nine, McComb continued to dictate the offense, backing up Barboza consistently with the left, living up to his name of "Nuisance."

Barboza had no answer for McComb. The 10th and final round was mostly listless. As they went down the stretch, boos rained down from the crowd, but McComb could care less as this was clearly his night.

Ultimately, the judges thought otherwise, as Barboza was awarded a controversial split decision victory.

Haney-Garcia undercard results

Super middleweight: Bektemir Melikuziev (14-1, 10 KOs) TD 8 Pierre Dibombe (22-1-1, 12 KOs)

Super flyweight: David Jimenez (16-1, 11 KOs) UD 12 John Ramirez (13-1, 9 KOs) for interim WBA title

Super lightweight: Charles Conwell (19-0, 14 KOs) TKO 6 Nathaniel Gallimore (22-7-1, 17 KOs)