Eddie Hearn on Ryan Garcia vs. Oscar De La Hoya drama: ‘Definitely the most bizarre thing I’ve ever seen’

Eddie Hearn believes the next fight for new two-division boxing champ Devin Haney is an obvious one.

“Remove the politics, the Ryan Garcia fight is the natural fight to make,” Hearn said on The MMA Hour following Haney’s dominant victory over Regis Prograis this past Saturday. “Ryan should be looking to fight the champions at 140 [pounds]. He’s on DAZN, obviously with Golden Boy. There’s a conversation that, for me, should happen and evolve very quickly. I think that is the fight for us and Golden Boy and Garcia and [Devin] Haney to make.

“For me, you want momentum, you want an ability to move swiftly to make a mega fight. And for me, that is a conversation really between ourselves, Golden Boy, and DAZN, that should be fairly easy to maneuver. And I think that’s a massive fight.”

Haney, 25, captured the WBC super lightweight title with a 12-round masterclass against Prograis. Competing for the first time at 140 pounds after reigning as boxing’s undisputed lightweight champion since June 2022, Haney dropped Prograis in the third round with a right hand and ultimately outclassed his foe to a historic degree — Prograis’ total of 36 landed punches were the fewest ever for a 12-round fight over the 38-year history of CompuBox stat tracking. Haney is now a perfect 31-0 in his pro boxing career.

On Monday, Hearn also named Teofimo Lopez and Gervonta Davis as potential opponents for Haney’s next conquest at 140 pounds, however the Matchroom Sport chairman believes Garcia would be the simplest fight to put together because of the DAZN connection both fighters share. Hearn and Garcia’s promoters, Golden Boy, are both locked into broadcast deals with the streaming service. Hearn said there’s already been “a few internal talks” within DAZN about Haney vs. Garcia being “a fight that we need to discuss ASAP.”

Garcia also called to fight Haney in 2024 after Saturday’s bout on social media.

“When it works for everybody, it happens, and particularly when you’re on the same platform,” Hearn said. “So I believe talks with Garcia and Haney will open up in the next week.”

One potential hurdle to the matchup, however, could be the strained relationship between Garcia and Golden Boy, especially promotional head Oscar De La Hoya, which was on full display prior to Garcia’s recent eighth-round knockout win over Oscar Duarte. Garcia spoke openly in the lead-up to the event about the adversarial relationship he shares with his promoters, leading De La Hoya to express concern for his fighter’s “state of mind” on the eve of the bout in a bizarre and since-deleted social media post.

Like many observers, Hearn found the entire saga to be worrisome.

“It was definitely the most bizarre thing I’ve ever seen,” Hearn said. “Ryan Garcia is obviously their No. 1 fighter, so that is really like me standing behind Anthony Joshua at a press conference [making all sorts of faces], and then tweeting 48 hours before his fight, saying that I’m concerned about the mental health of Anthony Joshua going into his fight. For me, that’s almost dangerous. How can you expect this kid to prepare properly mentally? You’re questioning his mental state — that’s not doing anything to help his mental state.

“Listen, it’s none of my business really, but surely you just get in a room, you either part ways and say that this is toxic and not good for anyone, or you say to each other, ‘This has to stop. We’re going to be professional, we’re going to be effective, we’re going to be constructive until the end of our tenure and our partnership. But until then, let’s act accordingly.’ Or you say, ‘Guys, we’re never going to see eye-to-eye, I think maybe we should look at a deal to move away.’ But I can’t believe it. I mean, honestly, I’ve never seen anything like it. It’s the most bizarre thing ever.

“And props to Ryan Garcia, because I thought he might lose to Duarte. I watched that press conference and I thought, ‘How do you expect this kid to be focused on his fight when his own promoter is pulling faces behind his back and telling him he’s mentally not in a good place 48 hours out? So big props to Ryan Garcia. I think that was a really dangerous fight for him. Duarte, he’s not an elite guy, but he can punch and he’s dangerous, and if you’re not mentally switched on, you can lose that fight. So well done [to] him.”

Garcia, 25, remains a divisive figure within boxing circles, however there is little doubt of his star power. His matchup against Davis this past April reportedly sold more than 1.2 million pay-per-view buys and was one of the biggest combat sports events of the year.

Hearn just hopes the ugliness raging back and forth between Garcia and Golden Boy doesn’t derail an up-and-coming talent before he’s able to make his mark on the sport.

“Ryan Garcia is a very good fighter, and I know that when I speak internally to other fighters, they give him props as well for being a good, dangerous fighter. So I think he’s brilliant for the sport,” Hearn said. “We’ve got to keep fighters like that motivated. We’ve got to keep them mentally in a good place, keep them active and keep them in love with the sport. And he’s a big, big part of the future of boxing, so we should embrace that rather than try and make him fall out of love with, particularly, the business of the sport.”

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