Oscar De La Hoya says Ryan Garcia ‘rattled’ Devin Haney with pre-fight antics: ‘Reminds me of Floyd Mayweather’

Oscar De La Hoya believes Ryan Garcia is in Devin Haney’s head.

This Saturday, Garcia challenges WBC super lightweight champion Haney and the pre-fight buildup has been heated. Garcia’s antic in particular raised a few eyebrows, with some even questioning if the bout should take place. But his promoter, De La Hoya, says this is simply a new side of Garcia coming out as he prepared for this massive fight.

“It’s a different version of him, a version with a chip on his shoulder, in a way,” De La Hoya said during an in-studio appearance on The MMA Hour. “And I think you need that, especially when you’re fighting the top guys. You have to prove to yourself. Especially after losing to ‘Tank’ Davis, he has something to prove and he’s living it. He’s demonstrating it. He’s showing it. He has that chip on his shoulder and he’s like, ‘I don’t give a — about anything. I just want to fight in there and fight the best and win.’ So I respect that.”

“A chip on his shoulder” doesn’t quite explain away all of Garcia’s antics though, which include claiming he was kidnapped by the Illuminati, claiming he has proof aliens exist, accusing Haney of working with Victor Conte for performance-enhancing drugs, making multiple posts suggesting that he is not well, and even missing weight by 3.2 pounds at Friday’s official weigh-ins, rendering him unable to win Haney’s WBC title.

The situation escalated so much that the New York State Athletic Commission reportedly demanded a mental health evaluation from the 25-year-old before the fight. But De La Hoya maintains that all of this is simply an advanced head game, and moreover, that it’s working.

“Ryan knows what he’s doing. I think he does,” De La Hoya said. “He knows what he’s doing, and if he cares for a subject that he wants to talk about, he’s going to go all out.

“Believe it or not, he is the cash cow. He is the moneymaker. We have a sell-out crowd here at Barclays and the pay-per-views are going to go through the roof. It’s crazy, and it’s all because of Ryan. Yeah, he’s fighting a top world champion who is serious, who wants to be great as well, who is a master boxer, but look at what Ryan has done to him, psychologically. Devin Haney pushing Ryan at the Empire State Building when they meet? I’ve never seen that from Devin. I think he’s a little rattled. So Ryan is doing something that only he knows he’s doing and he’s getting under his skin.”

Whether or not this is all an advanced ploy remains to be seen, but it does seem to be having some effect on Haney, particularly as Garcia’s antics have turned more personal. As De La Hoya noted, Haney shoved Garcia during a faceoff earlier this week and appears to be losing his patience. De La Hoya believes that could be a problem for Haney come fight night.

“I think Devin [has more pressure],” De La Hoya said. “Just with all the talk that’s been going on. I’ve been watching him closely, and everything from the start to the finish — the finish being getting inside the ring — from the start of the buildup, Haney was calm. He was, ‘Yeah, it’s going to be a good fight.’ But then when he sees Ryan, he gets all riled up. Now, lately, come fight week, he’s pushing Ryan, he’s doing this and that, and he’s really pissed. That’s a sign of frustration, and what I can see is Devin Haney getting so frustrated, wanting to knock out Ryan, and making mistakes. That’s what Ryan has to capitalize on, and I think that’s what he’s going to do.”

To speak to De La Hoya’s point, at the same event where Haney shoved Garcia, he also issued a threat to Garcia’s father, saying, “Your son is going to get killed!” In a sport like boxing, where roughly 13 fighters die each year from injuries sustained in the ring, death threats are no laughing matter, and De La Hoya says Haney stooping to that level shows just how badly Garcia is in his head.

“You never want to even think about or wish that upon anybody, especially inside the ring or in the octagon,” De La Hoya said. “We’re in a dangerous sport. When I heard that, I was like, ‘Come on. Don’t go there.’ But again, that’s how brilliant Ryan Garcia is. He got under their skin, you know? Again, it reminds me of Floyd Mayweather, how he would do his antics, and it works! It works. So we’ll see Saturday night what kind of fight we’re going to watch.”

Haney vs. Garcia takes place this Saturday night at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, NY.

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