By Paul Magno | March 13, 2023

I don’t give a shit why there’s a rehydration clause in Ryan Garcia’s contract when he faces Gervonta Davis April 22. 

I don’t care if Team Tank is trying to get some sort of physical advantage over Garcia. I don’t care if Gervonta, himself, is shaking in his boots, trying to hobble Garcia. I don’t care if this is just a big mindfuck to get inside Garcia’s head because Team Tank thinks the kid’s mentally weak. I don’t care if it’s a lizard people/space alien plot to ruin a grand human sporting event. 

It doesn’t matter because rehydration clauses, generally speaking, are a good thing. 

This Ryan Garcia-Tank Davis thing has become an issue, though, and it’ll become a bigger issue as time passes. Boxing fans don’t like dealing with the impression that one side of a fight is looking to rig things in their favor, especially if they’re supporters of the fighter on the perceived short end of the supposed rigging. But, of course, boxing fans (and media) are famously fickle and conveniently unaware when it comes to big fight moral compass.

So, let's sound this out. A naturally bigger man fights at an artificially small weight...why? To get an edge. Because he'll rehydrate to a much larger size by fight night and bring added mass and power to the bout. So, how is it bad or cowardly or whatever to keep fighters within the weight range they're actually supposed to fight at?

Those who harp on this issue, in essence, are saying: “Damn you, stop cheating by putting in that clause that stops the other guy I like better from cheating!”

Yeah, yeah...weight manipulation is not, technically, cheating since it falls outside of a commission’s ability to sanction or enforce. But a larger man fighting a smaller man is definitely not fair. A middleweight fighting a junior welterweight is just as dangerous as a PEDs-filled fighter facing a PEDs-free fighter. Visions of Arturo Gatti, who was allowed to rehydrate into a middleweight for a junior welterweight bout in 2000, nearly decapitating and ending the career of Joey Gamache come to mind. There have been so many other such instance of weight manipulation-- way too many to mention-- and the strategy has actually become commonplace since boxing went from same day weigh-ins to day-before weigh-ins. Everybody at the top level seems to fight at an artificially small weight these days, reaping the benefit of being able to get a mass and size advantage on fight night. Some are “better” at it than others. 

Rehydration clauses, though, stop that weight manipulation from happening or, at the very least, keep it from becoming such a huge factor in the outcome of a fight. 

It boggles the mind that any reasonable boxing person would be, with a straight face, trying to argue the case that one guy is cheating because he’s not allowing the other to have an unfair advantage on fight night. 

Of course, Davis and his team are not trying to clean up boxing with this rehydration clause. And, no, they apparently didn’t ask for it in a junior welterweight bout with Mario Barrios in 2021. So...Fucking...What?

In this upcoming fight, the stipulation apparently limits Garcia from rehydrating more than ten pounds above their 136 lb. contracted weight. Big deal. If Garcia can’t enter the ring as anything smaller than a welterweight, he shouldn’t be trying to fight at 136 or even 140, especially against a fighter who’s only fought above 135 once. 

I have zero compassion for any fighter being unable to rig the system to his benefit. I’m not saying that Ryan Garcia, specifically, is doing that. I’m just speaking about fighters in general. We don’t know who the guiltiest weight manipulators are anymore because the unofficial day-of-fight weigh-ins used by networks back in the day have been made to quietly disappear. 

By the way, limiting this weight game also protects the fighters who use the manipulation to their fight night benefit. There’s been plenty of evidence tying rapid dehydration and rehydration to vulnerabilities when it comes to protecting the brain from the impact of punches. Swift and extreme dehydration/rehydration is a common characteristic in fighters who have died (or who have suffered crippling brain injuries) in the ring. Doctors point to the brain’s jelly-like protective outer layer, which serves as a shock absorber, not having time to properly rebuild and replenish itself in the small period of time between weigh-in and fight night when so much water weight is being put back on.

But, common sense or not, fans will bicker about this rehydration clause and you can be damn sure that Ryan Garcia and his team will be using it as a talking point wherever and whenever they may need it.

As a matter of fact, it only took the 24-year-old Garcia about a day to wedge it into the fight narrative.

“So, why’d you weight drain me,” Garcia loudly asked Davis at the LA presser on Thursday, responding to Davis’ dismissal of his abilities. 

Davis’ own statements regarding the weight-related contract stipulation have ranged from cynical to pragmatic.

“That’s what happens when you’re the A-side,” the 28-year-old told reporters. 

“He’s a bigger fighter and he’s only growing,” Davis also said. “He’s coming from like 170, 180. Why would I not have a rehydration clause in there? So he can blow back up to 150, 160 around the time we fight? No. I’m not dumb.”

But, again, it doesn’t really matter WHY the rehydration clause was put there. It’s just a good thing it IS in there. I wish Davis was bound by such a clause as well. And I hope boxing gets to the point where all fights have rehydration clauses built into their framework. 

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