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Fight Signed! Haney and Garcia living the dream on April 20

Plus, Foster outlasts Nova, Diaz woes and Berlanga returns

This article originally appeared in Steve Wellings’ Substack

Say what you want about Ryan Garcia, that he’s a pretty boy, a social media creation, one step above the likes of Jake Paul and his MisFits brethren…you can’t deny he intends to face the best. Beating them is a different matter altogether. Garcia will likely end up as a perennial B-Side to the classier names of his era, but that won’t stop him from trying.

Fighting two pound-for-pound level talents, Gervonta ‘Tank’ Davis and now Devin ‘The Dream’ Haney, inside a year, legacy will not be left to chance. Others talk, some even pretend to retire. Garcia chases down the big guns and makes it happen.

On to the action: Does Garcia have a chance of beating Haney? Well, there’s always a chance, but a slim one, given their respective skills. To beat Haney (31-0, 15 KOs), ‘SuperRy’, formerly known as ‘KingRy’ (see the pattern?), will have to hurt him. Given his blinding left hook and fiery hand speed, that is not outside the realms of possibility.

Haney has been hurt before. Jorge Linares caught him with a quickfire combo in their 2021 clash. Haney was tight at the weight back then. He’s since unified a division and filled out to 140. The beast has matured into a prime specimen. A late 2023 beatdown of Regis Prograis displayed impressive maturity.

Rather than beating down Garcia (24-1, 20 KOs), a one-sided, frustration-induced schooling is more likely. Ryan would be better off eliminating the new shoulder roll defence he employed against Oscar Duarte in his December comeback. Having had months to train under Derrick James, it should give both men a deeper understanding of what they’re working with.

Haney’s left jab, body attack and grappling methods will need to be on point early to negate Garcia. As the rounds go on, it’s Haney’s fight to lose. Devin would be the favourite, probably over the distance. Again though, props to Garcia for seeking out the biggest challenges.

Boxing Round-Up

O’Shaquie Foster too super for Nova in New York

If you want drama and excitement, look no further than O’Shaquie Foster. The Texan does it all in other people’s backyards, too. The score totals once again divided opinion. 116-111 or even 115-112 to Foster seemed right after 12 competitive sessions.

Afterwards, the champion seemed a little despondent at his display, citing a round five freak bicep injury as a factor. O’Shaquie was being too hard on himself. It was a good quality win over a solid opponent.

Some early rounds were fairly close to score as Nova raced out of the blocks, throwing aggressive shots as Foster switched stances seeking some mid-range comfort. Picking shots nicely from the southpaw stance, Foster discovered his rhythm in the middle rounds. 

Foster’s sturdiness and stability returned as he ditched the switching and went orthodox. The right hand and uppercut found their desired targets as the challenger wilted physically.

Undeterred, Nova kept marching forward but was squared up in the 12th when a left hook dropped him. It was unfortunate yet legitimate. Nova later rued his poor footwork as Foster sealed the deal.

Foster showed that he can adjust and find a way to win. Nova showed he could compete at the world level, likely sliding into Robson Conceicao’s nearly-man territory.

Joseph ‘JoJo’ Diaz loses to hard-punching Perez

Joseph Diaz suffered another career setback, conceding a split decision loss to Mexican Jesus Antonio Perez. Diaz is a fun fighter with skills who always arrives in questionable condition, which means he has to stand and trade more. This approach provides a win-win for the fans as his toughness shines through. 

Speaking of weight, Perez has endured his own battles. The DAZN broadcast revealed that he used to weigh a portly 200 pounds and has managed to boil down to a more acceptable limit. 

One judge had it 95-94 to Diaz, another 96-94 to Perez. The third (Dr Lou Moret) totalled a wild 99-90 in Perez’s favour to seal the deal in bizarrely wide fashion. A round-five deduction for Diaz cost him dearly as the surly southpaw launched Perez through the ropes in frustration. 

While former world champ Diaz is still seen as the headline-worthy A-Side, he now has five losses, just like Perez, who was viewed as a battle-hardened B-Side before this career-changing win. 

Nontshinga stops Curiel to recapture IBF crown

Last November in Monaco, light-punching Adrien Curiel scored a huge upset by blasting out IBF light-flyweight king Sivenathi Nontshinga in the second round. The pair rematched last weekend in Oaxaca, Mexico, and Nontshinga gained his revenge with a 10th-round stoppage.

The South African was deducted a point in round seven for a headbutt but enjoyed a fruitful round nine as Curiel’s stamina failed him. Barely surviving the round, gutsy ‘Gatito’ was taking flush shots from a rampant Nontshinga when the ref stopped it in round 10. 

Nontshinga later laid out his plans to become an undisputed king at 108 pounds. That is a big ask as Kenshiro Teraji and Carlos Canizales lurk around the division.

Berlanga needs a big performance against McCrory

Edgar Berlanga returns to the ring on February 24 in Florida. Opponent Padraig McCrory from Belfast is also undefeated and can punch a bit. This promises to be an entertaining scrap for as long as it lasts.

Edgar Berlanga’s string of novelty knockouts is over, and he needs to show something different if the ‘Chosen One’ is to be taken seriously as a credible 168-pound threat.

‘I’m just a boy from West Belfast ready to shock the world’

McCrory (quote above) has a good jab but is fairly upright, which could be food and drink for Berlanga’s overhand right. The longer it lasts, the more ‘The Hammer’ has a chance of springing the upset.

Media Credits: Bad Left Hook, ESPN/Top Rank, Downtown Radio.

About Steve: Experienced boxing writer, author of 8 books and podcaster of over 500 eps. 20 years in the sport. Covered hundreds of shows for newspapers and Boxing News magazine. Chief video script writer for Motivedia channel and BN+. For enquiries:



Integral part of the Irish boxing community for over 13 years