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Saturday 20 April 2024

Boxing Picks 2024- Devin Haney vs Ryan Garcia (Saturday 20th April)

For most fight fans, the 5 vs 5 undercard to the Artur Beterbiev vs Dmitry Bivol main event featuring fighters from Queensberry promotions facing off against Matchroom would not have been a surprise.

All five fights had long been reported to be taking place, despite Eddie Hearn's insistence he had only made one of his selections on the morning of the press conference, but even then it was something special to see the ten boxers on the stage together.

A very good main event is now being complemented by a very strong undercard, arguably the best fight card that Saudi Arabia have been able to put together as they continue to push their investment into the world of boxing.

I am still convinced that the overall game plan is to make their new 'Undisputed Champion' belt the main attraction in the sport, meaning having control of the sport.

Unlike golf or tennis, sports that have to be played in different venues throughout the course of the year, controlling a sport like boxing looks to be much more manageable, especially if they can push their own belt to being the ultimate one to hold. That would mean picking the fights to be staged in their own country and promoting Riyadh Season all year around, pretty much as they are already beginning to do.

There are obvious concerns, but for fight fans, this is an exciting time knowing that the very biggest fights are going to be able to be put together.

By the end of June 1st, we will have Undisputed Champions in the Heavyweight and Light Heavyweight Divisions and it would not be a surprise if further Divisions are added to that over the course of the year. And much should concern the four governing bodies if those Undisputed Champions are willing to drop the other belts and focus on defending the one they will be given by the Saudi Arabians instead.

It is something to ponder, but for now the excitement has to be building towards a really strong run of fights right through to the end of June.

That run begins this weekend in New York City when two of the 'new four kings' face off, although the build has been strange to say the least.

Last weekend we added another positive unit to the Boxing totals for the 2024 season, but more is still expected after going 1-2 overall with the selections after an underwhelming main event showing in Corpus Christi.

Devin Haney vs Ryan Garcia (Saturday 20th April 2024)

Add in Teofimo Lopez and Tank Davis to the mix and there was a real hope that Boxing would have another 'Four Kings' era with Devin Haney and Ryan Garcia completing the numbers.

We have yet to really have those cross-bouts that would spark that kind of interest, although this is Ryan Garcia's second shot at taking down one of his peers having come up very short against Davis already.

It is hard to know what to expect from Garcia after a roller-coaster of a build up to this fight- at times he has looked mentally checked out and some of the behaviours, both in public and on social media, have fans wondering if Ryan Garcia SHOULD be fighting.

There is a real feeling that Garcia may have something of a mental breakdown in this one, while his training has been erratic and recent reports suggest he may struggle to make weight. After losing to Tank Davis, this feels like a significant moment for Garcia and he is not likely to be forgiven by the Boxing fans if he underperforms in this one.

However, this is of little concern to Devin Haney who has moved up from the Lightweight Division and dominated Regis Prograis in the Light-Welterweight ranks to pick up a World Title. The Division is a strong one, without many stand out names outside of Teofimo Lopez, and that remains the Unification that Haney wants most.

We still don't really know what kind of level Devin Haney possesses and those bouts against the likes of Lopez and Davis are the ones that many hope he pursues. Two consecutive wins over George Kambosos Jr before a controversial win over Vasyl Lomachenko in the Lightweight Division is a decent enough run, but Haney was at his absolute best when beating Prograis and this weight class may suit him much more than 135.

No one will dispute the clear talent that Devin Haney possesses- the fundamentals are very strong, although there are bigger tests ahead if he is going to try and become Undisputed in the Light-Welterweight Division and then potentially move into the Welterweight ranks.

Beating Ryan Garcia is one thing, but Devin Haney will be looking to make a real statement of his intent in this one.

A long standing rivalry is motivation enough, but Haney has been looking irritated by the Garcia behaviours in this build up and The Dream may look to settle down on his punches once he feels he has broken the spirit of his opponent.

Devin Haney is not the biggest of punchers, but Ryan Garcia has struggled to put together the kind of improvements his fans would have hoped. There is also this feeling that Garcia is not nearly as focused as he should be, and that remains true even if he has been playing up a bit more to put Devin Haney into a comfort zone.

Replicating the kind of performance he produced against Luke Campbell will give Ryan Garcia more of a chance, but something seems off about him. Missing weight underlines the point, especially as badly as he has missed it, and I remain unsure as to whether he should be in the ring at all this weekend.

It has been almost five years since Devin Haney last finished a fight inside the distance, but he could turn the screw late on in this one and force his old rival to just have to take that backward step. A late referee intervention or a corner pullout cannot be dismissed and Devin Haney following Gervonta Davis' path in stopping Ryan Garcia in the second half of the contest is the pick.

Making weight has been a problem, as suggested, and Ryan Garcia has perhaps been doing things he should not have been doing during a training camp, as has also been suggested, so there is every chance Devin Haney can put a combination or two together late on to secure a decisive finish. He has not really shown that ability in recent big bouts, but Ryan Garcia may just lose that focus which allows Haney to produce the kind of statement he will be targeting before once again calling out Teofimo Lopez for a blockbuster bout.

This is a PPV offering this weekend, but the undercard is perhaps a little underwhelming.

Arnold Barboza Jr was placed in the chief support as a backup in case either of the main event fighters were forced to pull out late on and he is a strong favourite to maintain his unbeaten run.

He is likely going to earn a Stoppage against Sean McComb, even though the latter is on a seven bout winning run.

Those have largely been at a lower level than the one he faces on Saturday and Gavin Gwynne was able to Stop McComb, but Barboza Jr has not exactly been working limited hours in recent outings. Five straight Decisions had to be earned before a late Stoppage last time out, but he is expected to close the show somewhere in the mid-Rounds before calling out some of the Champions in the Light-Welterweight Division.

Bektemir Melikuziev should also earn a Stoppage, even against an unbeaten opponent as he pushes for bigger fights.

Not many have been able to stand up to the power of Bully, and Pierre Hubert Dibombe has been operating at levels below.

Canelo Alvarez is unlikely to be looking at the Bully as a potential opponent, but Bektemir Melikuziev is rapidly moving up the WBA Rankings and a potential bout with David Morrell may eventually be the target.

He should overpower Dibombe very early in this one.

In the United Kingdom, potential new superstar Sam Noakes will be looking to take the next step in his career by getting the better of veteran Yvan Mendy.

Winning is not really being questioned, but Noakes will have to show a bit more against an experienced opponent and he is unlikely to continue his run of early Stoppages.

The Frenchman is 38 years old now, but he has yet to be Stopped and has caused some problems for those looking to breakthrough into the top tier of the Division.

Holding the European Lightweight Title would be another step for Sam Noakes and the WBO and IBF World Titles remain vacant in the Division. The top contender for the WBO World Title is Denys Berinchyk, who beat Mendy a couple of fights ago, but who was unsuccessful in becoming the first boxer to stop the veteran.

Sam Noakes will certainly be calling for huge opportunities if he can become the first person to Stop Yvan Mendy, but this is expected to be a tough test for someone who has overpowered previous opponents. Getting the Rounds under the belt cannot be seen as a bad thing and Noakes may need to head to the cards for the first time as a professional.

MY PICKS: Devin Haney to Win Between 7-12 @ 3.80 Coral (1 Unit)
Bektemir Melikuziev to Win Between 1-5 @ 2.25 Sky Bet (2 Units)

Boxing 2024: 17-25, + 13.92 Units (59 Units Staked, + 23.59% Yield)

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