Devin Haney Dares to be Great in Unfamiliar Territory

Devin “The Dream” Haney finds himself a long way from home in Melbourne, Australia preparing for the most important fight of his career to date. Haney is just 23 years of age, but finds himself on the doorstep of history. With a victory this weekend, he would become the first undisputed lightweight champion since Pernell Whittaker. He is squaring off against Unified Lightweight Champion George Kambosos Jr, in front of roughly 50,000 Australian fans at the heralded Marvel Stadium.

To ensure that he would get this historic opportunity, Haney had to yield to a number of absurd demands made from George Kambosos and his team. Haney has had multi-million dollar paydays in recent bouts, but had to take a significant pay cut in order to get this fight signed. Haney has also been a part of Eddie Hearn’s Matchroom Boxing stable, which airs their fights on DAZN, but Kambosos’s promoter Lou Dibella worked out a deal with Top Rank CEO Bob Arum to get ESPN to air Kambosos’s title defenses. This meant that on top of taking short money for the fight, Haney would have to “cross the promotional street”. He was forced into a three-fight deal with rival network ESPN in order to get the fight signed. There is even a rematch clause that Kambosos can opt to enforce if Haney is victorious this weekend, and that rematch would also take place in Kambosos’s home country of Australia.

News broke a few weeks before the fight that Bill Haney, Devin’s father and head trainer, was denied his visa request and would not be able to fly to Australia with his son for the biggest moment of his life. Bill Haney was unable to take the trip because he has a 1992 felony drug conviction on his record, which is truly unfortunate because that took place long before Devin was even born. In addition, since the conviction, Bill Haney turned his life completely around and has became one of the most respected figures in boxing.

Bill Haney was a non-violent offender who has turned into a model father and businessman, so hearing the news that he was not allowed to go to Australia for something that happened 30 years ago definitely upset many American boxing fans. However, Devin has not let the recent news affect his preparation. He has said that the ruling has only motivated him more to get the victory in enemy territory. In place of Bill Haney, Yoel Judah will be main man in the corner this weekend. Yoel Judah is the father of Zab Judah, who is Devin’s godfather, and has been in his life since he was a child. Yoel has experience in the corner of an undisputed title fight, as his son Zab defeated Cory Spinks for the undisputed welterweight championship back in 2005. In fact, Bill Haney was on the DAZN boxing show earlier this week and had high praise for Yoel Judah.

“Listen, Yoel Judah, we’ve had nothing but respect for him and everything he’s done in boxing with Zab. He’s the perfect guy in any kind of hostile environment. Yoel is the guy you wanna go with. He has that Brooklyn attitude. He wears it on his sleeve. He’s the kind of guy — he’s a fighter’s coach. He believes in the fighter whole-heartedly. I can’t say enough about him. He went into hostile territory with Zab in that Cory Spinks down there in St. Louis. It’s a legendary story. He’s a guy I have tremendous faith in.”

Haney has shown maturity far beyond his age throughout his entire career, and that has also been evident in the lead up to this fight. During the press conferences leading up to the fight, Kambosos has made a number of comments trying to get under the skin of the younger Haney. It appears that Haney has not let the Australian’s mind games affect his psyche, but we will truly find out when the two enter the ring on Saturday night. In an interview with, Haney spoke on many of the circumstances around the negotiations leading up to the fight, and I have included his statements below.

“To be honest, I pretty much just agreed to everything that they wanted. No matter what it was, we didn’t argue. We didn’t get nothing our way but we didn’t do no arguing. We just said ‘whatever we can do to make the fight happen.’ If I gotta go on there on another network, another promoter — which is my promoter now — to make the fight happen, so be it. If I gotta rematch you twice in Australia, so be it. It didn’t matter, I just wanted the belts. I want my name to be in the history books forever. It’s only been six people to do it and I look to be the next.”

“Both fights will be in Australia, due to his demands. Of course I would’ve loved for it to be in my home country but that’s what they demanded for the fight to get made. So we said ‘you know what, we don’t want to miss this opportunity.’ I am a true champion, I will beat you in your backyard twice if I have to and I truly believe if we fought ten times I would beat him ten times no matter where it is so if he want it two times in your country, so be it.”

“I’m taking a lot less money that what I should be making but it is what it is. It’s about my name being in the history books and my name being remembered and the money will come…when I get the belts then I can write my own checks.”

Since becoming the WBC Lightweight Champion in 2019, Devin has picked up 4 consecutive unanimous decision victories. 2021 was his most successful year yet with two highly anticipated bouts against former world champions. He defeated Three-division World Champion Jorge Linares in May of last year. Haney boxed beautifully in the early rounds, and his jab didn’t allow Linares to get off any quality offensive work. Linares had minimal success up until the tenth round, when he landed a crisp right hand at the bell that caught Haney flush. Linares would go on to win the last two rounds of the contest, but it was not enough as Haney coasted to the unanimous decision victory.

Haney returned to the ring in December of 2021 against former world champion and WBC interim Lightweight Champion Joseph “JoJo” Diaz. Diaz had a few brief moments of success, but Haney thoroughly controlled the fight and ended up scoring a unanimous decision win. Without a doubt, Devin is one of the most skilled boxers that we have in the sport today. His jab, combined with his length and defensive ability, will make him a tough style matchup for anyone at 135lbs.

If he is victorious this weekend, Haney will likely face Kambosos in a rematch later on this year. If he is able to defeat Kambosos twice, he would have just one more fight left to honor on his Top Rank contract. Three-division World Champion Vasyl Lomachenko and current Unified Junior Lightweight Champion and Two-division World Champion Shakur Stevenson are potential options that would serve as mega fights if Haney becomes the undisputed champion of the world.

Judging is the last obstacle that Devin Haney may have to overcome. Being the away fighter in front of 50,000 fans, the crowd will be electrifying and will undoubtedly cheer greatly when Kambosos throws punches even if they do not land. In the last major title fight held in Australia, hometown fighter Jeff Horn was awarded a very controversial victory against Manny Pacquiao. Nearly all observers around the world felt that Pacquiao had done more than enough to get the victory, but he left with a split decision loss. Haney is going to have to leave no doubt that he is getting the better of Kambosos in each and every round of their fight. Since I have always been a big believer in the skills and boxing IQ of Devin Haney, I think his talents will be on full display for the world to see on Saturday night as he becomes the undisputed lightweight champion of the world.

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Jack Kelly

Jack Kelly