Hopkins: Haney-Garcia Can Start New Chapter For Boxing In New York

Boxing Scene

Bernard Hopkins believes that Saturday’s fight between Devin Haney and Ryan Garcia can be the catalyst for the revival of boxing in New York.

At the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, Haney, one of the world’s finest fighters, defends his WBC super lightweight title against Garcia, one of the world’s highest profile.

They fight on the east coast despite Haney being based in Las Vegas and coming from Oakland and Garcia recently relocating from Los Angeles to Texas. 

Ten months earlier in the same city Teofimo Lopez – the biggest threat to Haney’s status as the world’s leading super lightweight – outpointed Josh Taylor at the Theatre at Madison Square Garden, but in recent years perhaps only Katie Taylor-Amanda Serrano and Anthony Joshua-Andy Ruiz represent truly high-profile fights.

The finest win of Hopkins’ career came in New York in 2001, when as the underdog he defeated Felix Trinidad. More than 20 years on the atmosphere that night at The Garden continues to be spoken about as one of the most memorable of the modern era – and yet if fighters like Miguel Cotto and Gennady Golovkin did so much to maintain New York’s relevance as a fight destination, their retirements have since contributed to its decline.

Haney, particularly, has spoken with relish about his first fight in the city since 2019, and Hopkins, so influential a figure at Golden Boy Promotions – who are overseeing Saturday’s fight – promised that more is to come.

“It went through a little recession,” he said. “It weren’t the first time and it won’t be the last time. But to be here today, with a fight of this magnitude – with the drama. It’s well worth the wait.

“Both guys is basically from the west coast, and [here] there’s no advantages for either guy when it comes to home-court advantage. Boxing is one of those sports where if you’ve got fans around the world you’ll fight where you’re comfortable at, so minds came together, and reason came together. New York, and the Barclays Center, was mentioned – of course, Madison Square Garden also. 

“Oscar [De La Hoya, also of Golden Boy] fought in New York, Madison Square Garden, and I did with Tito Trinidad, ’01. I’m glad we’re here. I’m glad we’re here on the east coast, ‘cause the last few years it’s been quiet.

“There’s a lot of talent here in New York, and on the east coast. Even to the tristate area and Philadelphia. You need one shot in the arm like this to get the ball rolling. Even Atlantic City – that was our Vegas. That was the east-coast Vegas. Our Las Vegas was Atlantic City, with Mike Tyson, and George Foreman, and [Evander] Holyfield, and myself. We have a pulse on the east coast now, and when you got a pulse, you got a heartbeat.”

Hopkins, one of Philadelphia’s finest ever fighters, perhaps also recognises that Golden Boy has an opportunity to grow its influence on the east coast, given their leading rivals Top Rank remain the most powerful promoter towards the west.

“[Boxing in New York can be] very, very special,” he continued ahead of the fight between Haney and Garcia, who went 3-3 as amateurs and are both 25 years old. “You just need the right fights, and Golden Boy’s looking to do the right fights and the big fights on the east coast just as well as anywhere else. That’s why we’re here.

“New York can be kind of rough on taxes and stuff like that, but if they know it’s going to be for multiple fights coming, business can be done.”

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