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Garcia vs Haney: Boxing Match or A Live Mental Break Down?

The year was 1997. Two former heavyweight champions, Lennox Lewis and Oliver McCall, were pitted against each other in a rematch for the vacant WBC heavyweight title. Three years earlier (1994), McCall scored a shocking second-round knockout victory over Lewis and took his WBC Heavyweight title from him. Many observers believed that it was a quick stoppage by the referee. However, even though Lewis beat the referee’s 10 count, had his hands up, and may have signaled that he could continue, he did appear to be badly hurt after the knockdown, so the referee decided to stop the fight. Both fighters had something to prove in the rematch. Was McCall awarded a quick stoppage victory, or was it a justified stoppage? Or was Lennox a better fighter and was robbed of his title?

As the rematch started, Lewis boxed carefully, using his jab and landing combinations, dominating the first three rounds. In the fourth round, McCall stopped fighting. When the fourth round ended, McCall did not go to his corner but opted to pace around the ring and appeared to have a mental breakdown by crying. Despite his trainer imploring him to come to his corner to receive instructions between rounds, he ignored it. He continued to exhibit the same behavior in round 5 (not fighting) until the match ended with Lewis being awarded the TKO victory in the 5th round and regaining the WBC Heavyweight title.

Prior to the rematch, there were no known reported indications that McCall was battling any mental health issues. Regardless, it was sad for the viewing public to see a fighter having an apparent breakdown instead of trying to competitively defeat his opponent.

On April 20, 2024, Ryan “KingRY” Garcia (25-1, 20 KOs) is scheduled to face WBC junior welterweight champion Devin Haney (31-0, 15 KOs) at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York. Garcia is 1-1 in his last two fights. He fought Gervonta “Tank” Davis 11 months ago in an exciting fight that was good while it lasted, but he was stopped by a Davis body shot in the 7th round. The fight was a commercial success, which did a reported 1.2 million Pay-Per-View (PPV) buys! No doubt largely due to the popularity of Garcia.

After the fight, Garcia fired his trainer Joe Goossen and replaced him with Derrick James. Under the tutelage of James, Garcia rebounded by defeating Oscar Duarte via TKO in the 8th round last December. After some back and forth as to whether Garcia would be fighting WBA jr. Welterweight champion Rolando “Rolly” Romero or WBC champ Devin Haney, a fight with Haney was agreed upon.

The only problem is Garcia, who has a history of mental health issues, has been acting bizarrely, saying bizarre things on social media, and at press conferences instead of promoting his fight between him and Haney. Haney alleged that Garcia was under the influence of drugs at the press conferences. Garcia responded that marijuana is legal. Garcia has talked about aliens, pledged to give 1 million dollars to every citizen when he becomes President, talked about who his next opponent will be, shown footage of odd slow-motion training, talked about him not having access to his money, etc. Reportedly some sponsors for the fight have withdrawn from the event.

Oscar De La Hoya, the head of Golden Boy and Garcia’s promoter, has assured the fans that Garcia is on the right track. Video footage of Garcia sparring and getting the better of his sparring partners has been released to the public to apparently support De La Hoya’s assurance to the public. Haney believes he is wasting his time and Garcia may retire before the sound of the fist bell on April 20, 2024. Many who are close as well as those who are not close to Garcia are calling for the fight to be cancelled so Garcia can focus on his apparent mental health issues.

This writer asks what if this odd behavior by Garcia is all in an effort to promote the fight? Many will respond and say that is highly unlikely. This writer will give Garcia the benefit of the doubt that this odd behavior is for the promotion and to throw Haney off his game plan to gain victory. This writer will also give the benefit of the doubt that Garcia reported 30 million dollars earned from the Tank Davis fight is enough that Garcia has made enough money in the sport of boxing that if he is not fit physically and mentally his inner circle (family) would intercede so the fight is canceled. Therefore, that being the case, Garcia is fit to fight.

But who knows what can happen because this is boxing. On fight night, Fans could see a focused and determined Garcia box his way to victory over 12 rounds. Or, if Garcia has been allowed to fight while having a mental crisis that was unresolved, the end result could be disastrous. At the time of writing this article, the fight is still scheduled. With no impending word as to a cancellation, one thing is for certain: Either it will be a good matchup, or there could be a mental breakdown live in the ring. Let’s see what happens.

Boxing Notes
If your surprised that Keith Thurman was injured and withdrew from his fight from WBO welterweight champion Tim Tszyu on March 30, 2024 your not alone. The good thing about it is Sebastian Fundora, his replacement, and Tszyu will now fight for two titles WBO and the vacant WBC junior middleweight title. The winner will face off against unified and Pound for Pound #1 fighter unified welterweight champion Terrance Crawford later in 2024 in a mega fight…The expression in boxing, “Styles Makes Fight” may hold true when Tyson Fury next faces Oleksander Usyk. It’s not a foregone conclusion that Usyk will defeat Fury. Fury has something to prove after his poor performance against Ngannou and has gotten himself in spectacular shape. Fury by KO against Usyk because Usyk style is perfect for Fury…

***Ralph Rimpell is a writer based out of New York and is a Boxing Correspondent for Ralph holds an undergraduate degree from City University of New York. He has been a Boxing Writer for over ten years having written for several top boxing websites on the World Wide Web. Before becoming a writer, Ralph's passion was for professional wrestling until he realized professional wrestling was entertainment and not a real sport. It was at that time the 1984 US Olympic team made up of future stars such as Evander Holyfield, Meldrick Taylor, Pernell Whitaker, etc. entered the professional ranks and signed with promotional outfit Main Events.It was also at that time a young exciting Heavyweight originally hailing from Brooklyn named Mike Tyson also turned professional and became the face of boxing. Young boxing fan Ralph just couldn't get enough of boxing as a large part of it was being broadcast on "free TV". As time went on, Ralph felt boxing writers were not being forthcoming with their boxing coverage, opinion pieces, interviews, etc. So Ralph decided to write an article and submitted it to a Boxing website thinking it would be deleted and ignored by the Editor. To Ralph's surprise his article was posted on their website and the readers embraced it. The rest is history.

"I thank God for the Internet because it has created opportunities for writers like myself who likely would not have been given an opportunity to write for print publications. I hope someday soon to expand my role in Boxing on different levels." -- Ralph Rimpell


Click here to view a list of other articles written by Ralph Rimpell.

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