Pressure busts pipes, but when applied correctly, can also produce diamonds. Couple that pressure with overcoming the adversity of having to travel thousands of miles to reach your destiny and what you’re likely to get is a champion, which boxer Devin Haney has earned the right to proclaim, without any dispute at that.
The 23-year-old Oakland native recently flew to the other side of the globe to Australia for a title-fight with unified lightweight champ George Kambosos on his own turf, returning to the states with Kambosos’ WBC, WBO, IBF, and WBA lightweight belts. Haney defeated the Aussie in an unanimous decision, making Haney the undisputed lightweight champion of the world. Putting on a slick performance that garnered comparisons to retired boxing legend Floyd Mayeather Jr., Haney controlled the bout by working largely from the outside, keeping Kambosos at bay with a swift jab that ranks among the best in the business.
Following his one-sided victory, Haney, who became the youngest champion in boxing when the WBC elevated him to lightweight champion after promoting then-WBC lightweight title-holder Vasiliy Lomachenko to “Franchise Champion,” causing rivals and pundits alike to bring Haney’s status as a champion into question and deem him an “email champ,” reveled in having proved his detractors wrong. “This is a great feeling,” he told reporters during the post-fight presser. “Everyone who was doubting me, everybody who said this and that, they came up with this ’email champ’ thing…well now email champ is the top dog, undisputed. There is no dispute, you cannot dispute any title that I have here. This is a dream come true and I couldn’t thank God enough for all this. [As far as the critics], f— them, I’m the top dog now.”
Haney may have to double back to Australia to fight Kambosos again due to a rematch clause in their contract, however, the new king of the lightweight division has bigger mountains in his path to scale and conquer, one of which is the aforementioned Lomachenko, the latter being boxing sensation and renowned knockout artist Gervonta “Tank” Davis, who some have crowned as being the face of the division due to his drawing power.
However, being the confident and composed pugilist that he is, Haney is one of the few who isn’t intimidated by the hype machine surrounding Davis, who currently holds the WBA (Regular) lightweight title, the only remaining strap in the division not in Haney’s possession. And with tension brewing between the two following confrontational remarks from both Davis and Haney, and the looming possibility of the WBA mandating that the two champions box it out as the sanctioning body continues to consolidate its belts, a crash course appears to be on the collision. All signs lead to an eventual matchup between the two, which would be one of the most explosive and competitive fights in boxing.
Yet, while Haney is willing to entertain hypothetical bouts the public is clamoring for in the future, he’s currently focused on whatever the next step and opponent arises, as well as exploring opportunities outside of boxing, as the enterprising champion continues to build his empire.
All I can think of is Haney Vs Tank being the most exciting fight in boxing.
— Oscar De La Hoya (@OscarDeLaHoya) June 5, 2022
VIBE spoke with Devin Haney about becoming undisputed, the prospects of him facing off against Tank Davis and Vasiliy Lomachenko, soaking up game from Floyd Mayweather Jr., and what songs are currently on his playlist.
You’re now the undisputed champion of boxing’s lightweight division now. How does that feel?
I mean, it feels great. It’s a dream come true [of] mine. I worked so hard for it to finally get my shot. And when I did, it was for everything, so I’m thankful for it and I’m appreciative I think I’ve worked.
You recently beat George Kambosos to get the belts and then to become the undisputed champ and that removed all of the doubt from your status as a champion. So how did that feel to remove all that?
Yeah, that was the main thing. Why I really wanted to make the fight was just to remove any doubt or any possibility for anybody to say anything. Now, they can’t say anything and I’m happy about that. They finally recognized me as not only a champion, but the man of the weight class. The top dog.
Have you had a chance to celebrate and if so, what did you do?
No, not too much. I just went out to dinner with the family. I’ve been enjoying my time with the fam. Just relaxing, recovering. I had a long hard training camp, so I’m just letting my body recover.
After securing all of the belts, you said that you’re now the top dog in the lightweight division and that you call the shots. However, others have argued that Gervonta “Tank” Davis or Vasily Lomachenko are the cream of the crop of the division in spite of their lack of belts. What do you say to that?
I mean numbers don’t lie at the end of the day, the proof is in the pudding. I’m the guy with everything. If anybody wants anything in the lightweight division, you need to go through me. So that makes me the top dog.
Prior to the Kambosos fight, you signed a three-fight deal with Top Rank, which could end with a potential showdown with Vasily Lomachenko. How would you describe Lomachenko as a boxer and what issues do you feel your style could present to him?
Yeah, I think Loma is a good boxer, [but] I feel like I’m the best in the world. I feel like I’m able to make adjustments and put together a game plan that could beat anybody in the lightweight division. So we’ll cross that road when we get there, but we’ll see. We don’t know what’s next. It’s still obviously a possibility for me and George Kambosos to do a rematch, but we don’t know, everything is up in the air right now. But Lomachenko, he’s at war and everything right now, so it’s not too much I could really say on a fight with him. We don’t know how that’s gonna outcome or what’s the timing or whatever the case may be. So, we’re just looking at what’s next.
Some boxing fans and promoters like Leonard Ellerbee have argued that holding a championship belt doesn’t matter and that it’s all about who generates the most money. Being that you’re a student of the game and have studied past champions who built their legacy by being title holders, do you feel boxing has lost its spirit of competition?
I mean, at the end of the day, if Tank Davis had all of the belts then he would say that, ‘Oh, Tank Davis is this he has all the belts, he’s this, he’s that.’ Since he doesn’t, then he says the belts don’t matter. So they make up the rules as they go. At the end of the day, the true boxing fans, the world knows what the belt holds, what the belts mean. And I’m just the guy with all of it, so of course, they’re gonna downplay it.
The champ @Realdevinhaney says after years of wanting Loma and Tank the energy has not changed. But if Kambosos exercises the rematch clause he might have to vacate a belt by the time those fights are available pic.twitter.com/GLc9e821WJ
— Corilla De Trill (@enc0ur) June 8, 2022
How does it feel being with Top Rank? How did that deal come to life?
It feels great to be with Top Rank. Especially with as much as we just accomplished together. It’s history and I’m happy to be here. I’m happy with the way that everything has has been going and I look forward to continuing to do business and make more history together.
Being that your father and trainer, Bill Haney, has a background in the music industry, I’m sure you’re a big fan yourself. Who would you say are the artists you remember listening to growing up?
Oh growing up. I can’t really say. I mean, it’s so many different artists that had their time coming up I can say now, I listen to [Lil] Durk, Lil Baby, like those guys. But I can’t really say [what I listened to] growing up right now just off the top of my head.
Being that you’re in the boxing world and also in the culture and you know a lot of artists, who would you say
are some of the artists who have hands or have the traits of a boxer?
DDG is pretty good. DDG, he got good boxing skills. That’s hard, I don’t know. I can’t really say off the top of my head. Too many artists that could box that I really could vouch for like that. Yeah, DDG is the only person I can really think of right now.
What are the songs that are currently on your playlist or some of the songs that you remember listening to while you were working out for this fight.
Lil Baby “Frozen,” “In a Minute.” Durk “Computer Murderers.” I was listening to a lot of DMX and sh*t like that. Just ‘getting ready for war’ type sh*t. I can’t really remember. I was listening to 2Pac and sh*t like that. Like, old shit.
If you could have any artists walk you out to the ring, who would it be and why?
Any artists I could have walked me to the ring… See, because I did Durk already. Lil Baby walked out a few times with somebody else. I had wanted DaBaby, but Shakur [Stevenson] had did him [already]. I don’t know…
You made history by becoming the youngest boxer in history to have your own promotion company, Devin Haney Promotions. What gave you the foresight to make that decision at such a young age and how important is ownership to you?
Yeah, I would say it was really my dad. My dad was like pushing it on me to just start now and that it would pay off in the end. Obviously, us looking at Floyd and somebody like that who started their own company and had success with it, my dad was like, ‘If you do it now, just imagine when you’re Floyd’s age. You’ll have a whole, like, real business that’s working for you.’ So that was just something that he installed in me at a young age.
To the ones holding it down in your corner ?
— Top Rank Boxing (@trboxing) June 19, 2022
Being that Father’s Day [just passed,] how important has it been having your father in your corner? Just having him with you the whole journey, even with the traveling situation that was up in the air, but he was able to make it, thankfully. So how was that?
Yeah, it’s been great. My dad has been there every step of the way. I’m so thankful that he was able to to make it to Australia because it wasn’t looking too likely, but I’m happy to be able to accomplish that together. It was a dream for the both of us.
What are some of your goals outside of the ring?
I mean, I want to get more into real estate. I’ve been into real estate, I bought a few houses, investment properties, but I want to get more into it. I’m also looking to get into the trucking business, get a few trucks and have those work for me as well. Mostly just invested and let my money make money. That’s the type of stuff that I’m on. I’ve got a lot of jewelry, cars, everything you can name. I did that already. But at this point in my life, I’m just focusing on trying to have my money make money.
You have a close relationship with Floyd Mayweather and the Mayweather family and have even had your boxing style compared to his. What have you learned from Floyd?
Yeah, I mean Floyd has been a mentor to me for a long time. I actually talked to Floyd yesterday. He called me and just congratulated me, so yeah, me and Floyd, we’ve got a good relationship. You know, he’s always somebody had to call and talk to whenever I need a pointer or whatever the case may be. So that always been a plus for me.
Speaking of outside of the ring, how would you describe your personality in the way that you like to spend your time?
I’m really like an old man, for real, I really just be chilling. I like to just be like chilling in the house with my family, my friends. I don’t like to go out too much or be seen too much. I like to just chill for the most part. Of course, I love like jewelry, fashion, stuff like that. Cars, but for the most part, I just be chilling.
Boxing is in a great place. You’ve got Devin Haney, of course. You’ve got Charlo, who is undisputed. You’ve got everyone in the lightweight division. Who are some of the boxers that you like watching or maybe you go to see or check for?
I mean, I watch everybody just to stay in tune with what’s going on, but the fighters I really like to really watch…like dissect is, like, Shakur Stevenson. I would say Shakur is like my favorite right now of the boxers out right now. He’s probably one of the guys I most watch and like dissecting and take little shit from. I like [Terence] Crawford, too. I like Crawford. I like Errol [Spence]. I like Errol and Crawford, too.
What’s next for Devin Haney moving forward?
Yeah, right now we trying to see what’s next. You know, everything is still fresh, so we’re just taking some time to to rest and recover, even though I never stopped working out. It’s just something I do. It’s something I just love to do, I don’t feel right unless I work out. But we’re trying to see what’s next. And just stay tuned because we’re not ducking or dodging nobody. We want to make the biggest fights happen. And we’ll see.