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Devin Haney anxious to return, sees Ryan Garcia as likely true rival at 135

The WBC lightweight titleholder thinks Ryan Garcia may be the guy to serve as his “nemesis.”

Scott Christ is the managing editor of Bad Left Hook and has been covering boxing for SB Nation since 2006.

Devin Haney, who was recently reinstated as the full WBC lightweight titleholder, is on the sidelines like everyone in boxing right now, and says he’s itching to get back into a division that has a lot of great names, from Vasiliy Lomachenko at the top to a rising titleholder in Teofimo Lopez, plus himself and another great young prospect, Ryan Garcia.

“There’s so many big fights to be made in the 135-pound division,” he told Chris Mannix. “Huge fights. I’m anxious to get back. I just want to show the world I’m the best 135-pounder out there.”

He named Garcia, a former amateur rival, as the guy he really sees as a potential “nemesis.”

“That’s the fight the fans would love to see,” Haney said. “We’re both 21 years old, we’re both making crazy noise, we fought in the amateurs multiple times; everything just adds up and makes it a huge fight.”

Haney (24-0, 15 KO) says not to listen to Garcia (20-0, 17 KO) about their amateur records, and says he beat Garcia every time, but that all of them were tough and he respects Garcia’s ability.

“Every fight was competitive. None of the fights were easy,” he said. “Ryan’s always been good. That’s why I’m not surprised the noise he’s making. People that ask me about him, I always say that he’s good. I knew with his skill set, I knew one day he would be big.”

Haney also recently stirred up some controversy with an interview that went viral, in which he said he’d never lose to a “white boy.” He didn’t exactly apologize for that, but he did give his side of it a bit more.

“The correct thing was to say was I wouldn’t lose to anybody. You live and you learn,” he said. “I’m young, and I understand what I said wasn’t the correct thing to say. But at the end of the day, I feel like I won’t lose to anyone, to any fighter.”

He added about the reaction, “I was surprised at how some of the fans were trying to portray me as someone that was racist, which is not the case at all. My siblings are half-white, half-black. Come on, now. My younger brother and sister, my stepmom is white. It was just crazy. My whole team is diverse. I don’t discriminate, I’m not racist at all. I didn’t expect that at all, but what can you do about it?”

Haney also said he’s spoken with Eddie Hearn, his promoter, but nobody has any set plans just yet, with a possibly return in July in the mix. Haney’s also coming off of shoulder surgery, which is why the WBC moved him to “champion-in-recess” in the first place, only for the recess to wind up applying to the entire sport. As for fighting behind closed doors, he says he’s OK with that, but like most fighters it seems to strike him as odd, not that any of them are really going to have a choice in the short term other than not fighting at all.

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