Devin Haney is out to spoil Australia’s party today but he’ll be on his own, with the entire country hoping he falls short of his task.
American boxer Devin Haney got a taste of what he’ll be facing at a packed Marvel Stadium at Saturday’s weigh-in — and it’s set to be brutal.
Facing Aussie-Greek star George Kambosos Jr. in the city with the biggest Greek population outside of Greece, the 23-year-old will play the role of public enemy No. 1 and he was jeered mercilessly by the Hellas Fan Club who brought an electric atmosphere to the pre-fight event.
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Haney was the second choice for Kambosos’ first title defence behind Ukrainian former lightweight champion Vasyl Lomachenko. But the 23-year-old jumped at the chance to fight for the right to be the youngest undisputed four-belt champion of the world.
When Lomachenko pulled out, Kambosos’ promoter Lou DiBella revealed the response was: “Go and give Haney this opportunity, see if he really wants it.”
DiBella praised both men for taking the tough fight because while the lightweight division is one of the hottest in boxing, it’s rife with accusations of fighters ducking each other.
“These two young men wanted to fight each other,” DiBella said.
“They wanted the smoke. A lot of fighters don’t. A lot of fighters ride through and take those easy paydays and just want to get wins.
“These guys want to be great. These guys are fighting for legacy, not only for money.”
And Haney really wants to get in the ring.
Fox Sports revealed some of the contract details Haney had to agree to earlier in the week, including getting vaccinated, a deal skewed in Kambosos’ favour, putting his belt on the line, switching promoters and a rematch clause in Australia if the Aussie loses.
“You guys (Team Kambosos) can have whatever you want,” Haney told Cigar Talk. “You guys wanted the bigger lump sum of the money, or you guys wanted to be there (in Australia) whatever the case may be.
“I just wanted fair judges, I wanted a fair playing ground and that’s all.”
Haney’s hard road
While this opportunity has come surprisingly quickly for Haney, the young gun hasn’t always had it the easy way.
Kambosos has a 20-0 record with 10 knockouts and Haney, despite being much younger than his 28-year-old rival, has a 27-0 record with 15 KOs.
The American had an outstanding amateur career, going 138-8 and winning seven national titles.
He also split his four fights against fellow lightweight star Ryan Garcia 2-2.
But rather than staying an amateur and seeking Olympic glory, which may have opened up more opportunities at an early age, Haney went the more difficult route and turned pro at 17.
Without promotion and too young to fight in America, Haney’s first four wins came in just over three months fighting out of a pool hall in Tijuana.
It could be argued that the results, which saw 10 of his first 15 fights take place in Mexico including 10 of his knockouts, may have inflated his record, but when you talk about coming up from the bottom, Haney knows all about how unglamorous boxing can be.
“Fighting in Mexico in a bar you never thought that you’d make it this far,” Haney said.
“I knew that I’d make it this far but I knew that I had a long road. I wasn’t the guy that came out of the amateurs and was signed to a big promoter and was fighting on big shows. I fought in Mexico for a long period of time. It’s been a long time coming for me. I wasn’t even fighting on TV.”
However, from fight 16 in 2017 to the Kambosos duel today, Haney has worked his way up in the US.
Kambosos has taken shots at Haney after the youngster was handed the WBC lightweight championship when Lomachenko was elevated to franchise champion and he has since defended the title four times.
‘It’s not about the money’
Haney had reportedly been chasing fights with Lomachenko and Teofimo Lopez in the past. But it’s not about the money — they were the guys with the belts.
In his last three fights, Haney reportedly made around $3 million against Jorge Linares, $2 million against Yuriorkis Gamboa and around $700,000 against JoJo Diaz, not counting his 55 per cent share of pay-per-view buys.
But Haney said he’s in it for the legacy.
“I pretty much agreed to everything that they wanted,” Haney told FightHype.com of the Kambosos negotiations.
“No matter what it was. I didn’t argue. We didn’t get (anything) our way, but we didn’t do arguing. We said, ‘Whatever we can do to make the fight happen’.
“If I go over there on another network, with another promoter, which is my promoter now, to make the fight happen, so be it. If I have to rematch you twice in Australia, so be it.
“It didn’t matter. I just wanted the belts. I want my name in the history books forever. There have only been six people that did it and I look to be the next.
“There will finally be a king in the lightweight division, and it will be me.
“It’s about legacy for me. I’ve made a lot of money already. So, it wasn’t about the money here. Of course, you can always make more money. Of course I want more money. But it was about legacy and I’ve been begging for the big fights for so long now.
“People thought that I was bluffing and stuff like that. This is truly what I wanted. I wanted to be the king of the lightweight division. That’s why when they came up with all these demands, I said, ‘Yup, yup, yup. What’s next? Yup’. Whatever you guys want to do we can do it.”