Boxer Ryan Garcia tested positive for the banned substance ostarine

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Star boxer Ryan Garcia tested positive for the performance-enhancing substance ostarine the day before and the day of his upset win over Devin Haney last month, per a Voluntary Anti-Doping Association letter sent to all parties Wednesday and obtained by ESPN.

The urine samples were collected before the fight, but the results weren’t known until later.

Garcia has 10 days to request that his B-sample be tested. Garcia’s A-sample also screened positive for 19-norandrosterone, but its presence is unconfirmed until further lab analysis.

“Everybody knows that I don’t cheat,” Garcia said in a video posted on X. “Never taken a steroid. … I don’t even know where to get steroids. … I barely take supplements. Big lies, I beat his ass.”

Oscar De La Hoya’s Golden Boy Promotions said in a statement that it is working with Garcia’s team to “determine how this finding came to be.”

“Ryan has put out multiple statements denying knowingly using any banned substances — and we believe him,” Golden Boy said in its statement.

Garcia, 25, floored Haney three times and won by majority decision, but that result now stands to be overturned unless the B-sample returns negative, which is rare.

“We learned about this situation not too long ago and it’s unfortunate Ryan cheated and disrespected both the fans and the sport of boxing by fighting dirty and breaking positive not once, but twice,” Haney said in a statement to ESPN.

“… Ryan owes the fans an apology, and by his recent tweet, he still thinks this is a joke. We put our lives on the line to entertain people for a living. You don’t play boxing. This puts the fight in a completely different light. Despite the disadvantage, I still fought on my shield and got back up! People die in this sport. This isn’t a joking matter.”

Garcia (25-1, 20 KOs) also missed weight ahead of the fight, registering 143.2 pounds for the WBC 140-pound title fight. Garcia paid Haney (31-1, 15 KOs) upward of $600,000 for his failure to make weight. It also meant Garcia was ineligible to win the title, though he rose to No. 2 in ESPN’s junior welterweight rankings following the major upset.

Haney, who fights out of Las Vegas, remained the junior welterweight champion even in defeat. He fell to No. 4 in ESPN’s 140-pound rankings and lost his pound-for-pound recognition after being ranked No. 6 by ESPN going into the fight.

“Safety, fairness, and integrity in professional athletic competition are essential,” the New York State Athletic Commission said in a statement to ESPN. “The Commission is in communication with VADA and is reviewing the matter.”

Ostarine is a selective androgen receptor modulator that attaches to proteins in the body and effectively tells muscles to grow. It is used to aid performance by helping athletes build muscle mass and enhance their rate of fat loss and also to increase stamina and recovery ability.

It has been on the World Anti-Doping Agency’s banned list since 2008 and in 2022 was listed as an anabolic agent by WADA.

Ostarine has been used in boxing before. Lucian Bute tested positive for it in 2016 following a draw with Badou Jack in their WBC super middleweight title fight. The result was changed to a DQ win for Jack.

Amir Khan was handed a two-year ban by UK Anti-Doping (UKAD) after he tested positive for ostarine following his sixth-round TKO loss to Kell Brook in 2022.

Haney was a -900 favourite, according to ESPN BET, but he closed at -575 after Garcia missed weight. The slick-boxing Haney, the former undisputed lightweight champion, had never been knocked down entering the fight, but Garcia deposited him on the canvas in Rounds 7, 10 and 11 with his lightning-quick left hook to pull out the victory.

The win was a career-altering performance for Garcia, who has never won a world title but boasts a massive social media presence with more than 12 million followers on Instagram. His lone career defeat came via seventh-round TKO vs. Gervonta Davis last April.

Haney defeated future Hall of Famer Vasiliy Lomachenko last May to retain his four 135-pound titles. He made his 140-pound debut in December with a shutout decision victory over Regis Prograis to win the WBC junior welterweight title.

Timothy Bradley Jr.’s take: Munguia has a path to beat Canelo, but can he get there?

Undisputed super middleweight champion Canelo Alvarez, left, faces Jaime Munguia Saturday night in Las Vegas. ESPN

Cinco de Mayo celebrates the Mexican Army’s victory over the French Empire at the Battle of Puebla on May 5, 1862. The holiday honours Mexican heritage and has become a Mexican-American cultural celebration. The day honours the bravery and resilience of the Mexican people. Boxing has become a significant part of Cinco de Mayo weekend, with many legendary boxers showcasing their skills.

On May 4, the boxing world will witness another showdown between legendary experience and mature youth. Mexican boxing legend and undisputed super middleweight champion Canelo Alvarez will tangle with undefeated former junior middleweight champion Jaime Munguia in a must-see dance of fists that signifies more than just an undisputed championship match. It is also a battle for respect and a potential passing of the torch. At 33, Canelo is not old, but he has been fighting in the pro ranks for almost 19 years and has 64 fights on his record. The admirable Father Time marches on, undefeated in this sport.

The fight will impact the divisional rankings, as a win for Munguia could push him into the No. 1 position at 168 pounds. The outcome will also clarify the fighters’ positions in their careers. Remember, fans have been calling for a fight between Alvarez and WBC interim champ David Benavidez, a highly skilled young fighter known as “The Mexican Monster.” If Alvarez dominates Munguia, it will clarify his position and maybe determine his plans. However, if he struggles, it might suggest a different narrative altogether, crushing the dreams of boxing fans worldwide.

Alvarez finds himself in a reflective time warp of fate as he prepares to face a young, hungry fighter in the 27-year-old Munguia. Alvarez will enter a scenario reminiscent of when, as a 23-year-old, he faced the seasoned veteran. He fought the No. 1 pound-for-pound boxer at the time, Floyd “Money” Mayweather, in a battle where experience overshadowed youth. Alvarez now embodies the seasoned champion and Munguia is cast in the role once played by Alvarez.

A look at their punch input

In his prime, Alvarez’s punch output hovered around 500-600 per 12-round fight, with 526 punches thrown in his meeting with Mayweather. As time has passed, there’s been a drop-off in his punch count. He threw 459 punches against John Ryder, 100 fewer against Jermell Charlo and 361 in his fight with Caleb Plant. In his loss to Dmitry Bivol two years ago, Alvarez unleashed 495 punches but he was outdone by Bivol’s impressive overall punch count of 710 strikes, according to CompuBox.

Alvarez vs. Munguia Punch Stats Comparison

•31.2% of Canelo’s landed punches are body shots. 30.9% for Munguia (CompuBox division avg.: 29.5%)
•Canelo opponents land 11.4 punches per round and 6.5 power punches per round (division avg.: 14.8/10.6). They land 30.1% of their power punches. Munguia opponents land 29.8% of their power punches. (Gabriel Rosado landed 42% of his power shots vs. Munguia.)
•Munguia lands 3.8 jabs per round (Canelo 4.1)
•Munguia lands 41.2% of his power punches (16.3 per round, division avg.: 10.6)
•Rounds 11 and 12 comparisons: Canelo lands 18 of 51 punches, with 53 thrown in Round 12 his highest average in any round. Munguia’s high was 112 punches thrown vs. Sergiy Derevyanchenko in Round 12, and he threw 70 or more punches in four different rounds.

Total avg. thrown per round40.86351.2
Total avg. landed per round14.420.114.8
Body landed ratio31.2%30.9%N/A
Jabs avg. thrown per round18.223.422.3
Jabs avg. landed per round4.13.84.3
Power avg. thrown per round22.539.628.9
Power avg. landed per round10.316.310.6
— Courtesy of CompuBox

Alvarez, whose rate of punches thrown per round is a low 40.8, now faces Munguia, a fighter renowned for his fearless mindset, lethal punching power and a high-volume approach that typically sees him throwing 600 to 800 punches per fight (63 punches per round in his last 15 fights). Munguia’s performance against Sergiy Derevyanchenko back in June, where he threw close to 800 punches, and a more measured but still scintillating outing of 468 punches against Ryder in nine rounds in January serve as a testament to his aggressive combination style and further his threat against the undisputed champion.

Munguia’s high-octane offence could exploit Alvarez’s offensive inconsistencies, allowing the challenger to accumulate points and possibly dominate early and later rounds. Alvarez has shown signs of fatigue in the latter stages of fights. This vulnerability might partly stem from his undeniable conviction to land power punches, which can consume a lot of his energy, and partially from the toll from his long, illustrious career.

Canelo’s path to victory

Canelo Alvarez, left, has one of boxing’s best left hooks that he can thrown to the head or body. Sarah Stier/Getty Images

Alvarez’s masterful counterpunching could capitalize on the openings created by Munguia’s aggressive style. With his exceptional timing, Alvarez can punch between Munguia’s punches and command the midrange, where he excels in landing his signature lead left hooks and devastating right hooks to the target areas. Alvarez’s technique, infused by his longtime trainer Eddie Reynoso, effectively neutralizes his opponents’ jab and imposes momentary paralysis, making them gun-shy.

Munguia has advantages in height (6 feet) and reach (72 inches), but Alvarez has overcome such challenges throughout his career with repetitive upper body movement and a tight high guard. Munguia’s jab is more potent than Canelo’s and could be a crucial component in managing the range at which the fight will be fought. Nevertheless, Alvarez’s ability to close the gap and engage at arm’s length could be a game-changer in landing his power shots.

Alvarez should look to temper the fight’s rhythm by targeting Munguia’s body early on. With disciplined bodywork, Alvarez could set a manageable pace that might get Munguia to slow down in the second half of the fight. I see several strategic plans, but I will give Canelo one that he can use against Munguia: Seasoned professionals going against young foes, whether in sparring or actual fights, sometimes try to draw them into the later rounds, effectively sapping their vigor. Youths have a burning desire to showcase their offensive prowess against seasoned opponents and often launch a furious pace that can appear overwhelming at first. However, by the fourth or fifth round, they’re typically gasping for air, frantically searching for a second wind.

Simultaneously, the veteran fighter, Alvarez in this case, would place calculated shots that systematically break down the younger opponent. As fatigue sets in from both the physical exertion and the cerebral strain of the tactical chess match that unfolds in the ring, the less seasoned fighter, Munguia, might start to falter, making mistakes. This allows the more experienced fighter to capitalize on these errors, increasing the likelihood of turning a highly competitive contest into a one-sided affair.

For Alvarez to execute this plan successfully, he must utilize his footwork to create space, encouraging Munguia to initiate an offensive attack. This will allow Alvarez to unleash a counterattack with sharp, precise and surgical accuracy to diminish Munguia’s stamina gradually. By drawing Munguia into this trap, Alvarez could silently deplete his opponent’s energy, setting the stage for a dominant finish.

Can Munguia win? There’s a way

Jaime Munguia, left, is a power puncher with good skills and 43 fights under his belts, all victories. Ed Mulholland/Matchroom

Munguia needs to earn Alvarez’s respect from the outset. He must assert himself early in the match by establishing his jab and effectively keeping Alvarez at bay. Given Alvarez’s love for power punches in the midrange, Munguia must use his height and reach advantages to control distance. In simpler terms, Munguia must keep Alvarez occupied defensively, forcing him into a less effective high guard and disrupting his rhythm.

Delivering combinations will be critical for Munguia to implement this strategy and dictate the fight’s pace, preventing Alvarez from building momentum. Alvarez’s signature left hook relies on weight transfer onto his lead foot for power, leaving him momentarily glitched afterwards. Munguia should capitalize on these moments, launching his attacks and exploiting Alvarez’s temporary vulnerability.

As I mentioned, Alvarez has shown signs of fatigue in later rounds, elevating the importance of Munguia’s fearless approach in the second half. Taking calculated risks and maintaining a vibrant offence can create opportunities for Munguia to seize control. Munguia’s one-two combination looks excellent on film, with straight punches that reach the target quickly and can be particularly effective against Canelo’s high guard. By prioritizing direct, linear offence, Munguia can disrupt Alvarez’s rhythm and counter his favoured hooks with precision and speed.

A boxer’s abilities in defence are often the cornerstone to success in the ring. Making someone miss is as crucial as punching power. Munguia perfectly illustrates the Mexican warrior spirit, channelling the legacy of the legends before him with his devastating left hook to the liver and his fearless combination punching. It’s an all-action style. He is the type of fighter willing to take three to give one.

Munguia’s youth and iron chin can shift the psychological dynamics of the fight, much like Bivol’s tight defence and range control helped defeat Alvarez. Should Munguia withstand Alvarez’s heavy assaults of left hooks and looping rights, his confidence could grow, enabling him to push the fight’s pace and reinforcing his youthful resiliency, potentially outworking the champion. However, maintaining a fast-fight pace and pressuring Alvarez, which can benefit Munguia, carries risks. The battle between these two Mexican warriors promises to be a gripping exchange of blows and can quickly turn into a battle of who can give more while receiving less.

How Canelo can exploit Munguia’s flaws

Canelo Alvarez, left, and Jaime Munguia have a combined 107 fights, 103 wins, between them. Cris Esqueda/Golden Boy/Getty Images

Munguia’s tactical approach is not without flaws. He struggles to recognize the proper range to punch from, appearing too close upon delivery of shots, smothering his work while simultaneously being in range to be hit with a counterattack.

These lapses in judgment can turn a fighter’s strengths into liabilities, especially when faced with adversaries who can exploit such oversights with gauged precision. Despite the effectiveness of Munguia’s high-volume approach against a fighter like Alvarez, it equally presents a risk, as volume might offer gaps for lethal counterattacks. A recurring offensive mistake in Munguia’s technique is his negligent habit of not repositioning his lead hand after throwing a punch. Additionally, during moments of reset or disengagement, he tends to bounce in place momentarily, in proximity of his opponent. If Alvarez capitalizes on these instances, it could befuddle Munguia’s rhythm, effectively stifling his offensive output while he is unprepared to attack with unsettled feet.

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Munguia thrives on constant physical engagement, whether through punching or close-quarters grappling. His need to maintain contact can sometimes be his downfall, as he becomes disoriented without it. Fighters who rely heavily on sustained action can become apprehensive when given too much space. They usually fall into two silent killers: overcommitting and overthinking. By isolating a pressure fighter like Munguia, forcing him to second-guess his tactical approach, an opponent can effectively neutralize their offence, creating opportunities for initiated offence and a landslide of countermoves.

X factor: Ring smarts

In past analyses, I have frequently discussed Alvarez’s tendencies, flaws and habits, from his usage of the high guard and the vulnerabilities it presents to his love for power punching that defines his style. I have scrutinized his footwork intricacies designed to unleash his lethal left hooks. However, I have overlooked the No. 1 ingredient of any elite athlete: intelligence. In the boxing ring, IQ is what separates fighters. Ultimately, the most astute fighter will likely be victorious.

While attributes like effort, stamina, strength, speed and power are all valuable traits, it is the strategic application of these skills that determines their effectiveness in the short span of 36 minutes or less in the ring. Munguia projects youth, energy and courage, and may embody fearlessness, but even the most fearless warriors can fall short when faced with a superior cerebral opponent.

Who wins?

I envision a display of Alvarez’s greatness, a spectacle unseen in years. Munguia’s style makes for an extraordinary fan-friendly battle. However, it’s tailor-made for Alvarez, as he will orchestrate a knockout victory over Munguia. The younger contender will likely give an excess of respect, creating an opening for Alvarez to land a devastating blow within the first 10 rounds. It is in this battle of minds, grit, skills and Mexican blood that Alvarez’s true mastery will shine brightly. Tensions erupt between Canelo Alvarez, and Oscar De La Hoya at the presser

Saul “Canelo” Alvarez and Oscar De La Hoya exchange their sides of the story after they came face-to-face with each other in a news conference. (1:36)

LAS VEGAS — Canelo Alvarez, boxing’s top star, and his former promoter, Hall of Fame boxer Oscar De La Hoya, engaged in a heated verbal exchange at a Wednesday news conference ahead of Alvarez’s undisputed super middleweight championship defence vs. Mexican countryman Jaime Munguia on Saturday.

Golden Boy Promotions CEO De La Hoya, Munguia’s co-promoter, instructed Alvarez from the MGM Grand dais to “put some f—ing respect” on De La Hoya’s name, a response to the bad blood between the pair that’s simmered since their 10-year promoter-fighter relationship ended in 2020.

“Yes, I’ve been to rehab several times,” De La Hoya said. “Yes, there were some really low points in my life. And yes, there were times when work was not my priority based on my mental health, which I had neglected for so long. But that doesn’t change the fact that Golden Boy built Canelo over this period.”

Then De La Hoya did his best to poke Alvarez by mentioning his positive test for the banned substance clenbuterol ahead of his 2018 rematch with Gennadiy Golovkin.

Alvarez (60-2-2, 39 KOs) seethed, jumped up from his seat and unleashed a tirade of expletives at De La Hoya as chaos ensued on the stage.

“This idiot, this [guy] here to my left, try not to forget that I was already ‘Canelo’ when I came to the United States and that he only profited from my name,” said Alvarez, whose first name is Saul but is now usually referred to as the mononym Canelo. “He never lost a single cent, but instead made money. Have you already paid Golovkin what you wanted to steal from him?”

Alvarez, 33, was referring to GGG’s lawsuit against Golden Boy that was filed in March 2022 seeking upward of $3 million, money owed from that rematch with Alvarez. De La Hoya told ESPN later Wednesday, “We paid him everything he’s owed.”

“When pay-per-view numbers come in, money comes in from the cable operators and it takes time,” De La Hoya said. “And as the monies were coming in, I was paying Golovkin and that’s it. No discrepancies whatsoever.”

De La Hoya told ESPN that he’s “definitely going to sue [Alvarez] for defamation.”

“I’m going to defend myself when somebody’s speaking negatively about me and that’s what I did,” he said. “This was my perfect moment to let him know how I feel. It felt so good. Finally — I was just holding my tongue for all these years — and finally I can f—ing tell him in his face, put some f—ing respect on my name.”

De La Hoya’s Golden Boy Promotions signed Alvarez in 2010 when he was a 20-year-old prospect from Mexico and helped to build him into a star in the U.S. But the relationship between promoter and fighter eventually deteriorated and ended when Alvarez sued De La Hoya and Golden Boy in 2020, alleging breach of contract among other claims.

Alvarez, ESPN’s No. 4 pound-for-pound boxer, has competed eight times since he parted ways with De La Hoya, and Wednesday was the first time they shared a stage during a fight week since November 2019. Time has done little to soothe the rift between the current face of boxing and the former top star in the sport.

“If I hadn’t involved my lawyers, you would steal [money] from me,” Alvarez told De La Hoya. “The only thing this man does is be a scourge of boxing. Steal from boxers. For whoever is with him, please contact your lawyers, because he is surely stealing from you. It’s the only thing he comes to do in boxing.”

Canelo Alvarez and Oscar De La Hoya parted ways in 2020, and Wednesday was the first time they shared a stage during a fight week since November 2019. Cris Esqueda/Golden Boy/Getty Images

“You know who your daddy is,” De La Hoya responded.

“And the only thing he comes to do is steal attention from Jaime Munguia,” Alvarez said, “he doesn’t come to promote him.”

Munguia (43-0, 34 KOs) laughed all the while. The 27-year-old and Alvarez have shown each other plenty of mutual respect, and Wednesday’s proceedings didn’t do anything to change that, Alvarez told ESPN afterwards. But Alvarez did admit he’s now found extra motivation with Munguia being De La Hoya’s fighter.

“I’m so anxious to come Saturday night and just win fashionably,” Alvarez said.

Though this sort of promotional fare is typical in boxing, Alvarez said he didn’t like what transpired. But he said when it comes to De La Hoya, “I expect it. … His best fight for Munguia and he tried to steal all the attention from him. It’s sad for his part.”

Said De La Hoya: “I hope Canelo comes into the fight angry.”

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