Devin Haney discusses relationship with father Bill and why he skipped Olympics to turn pro
Undefeated lightweight boxing world champion Devin Haney sat down for a wide-ranging conversation on “The Pivot Podcast” ahead of his upcoming title defense as he discussed his rise to undisputed status at just 24-years-old, and much more in a new conversation that debuts today at 12 p.m. ET on the show’s YouTube page.
Co-hosts and former NFL stars Ryan Clark, Channing Crowder and Fred Taylor gave Haney an opportunity to address his critics, some of whom have claimed that he doesn’t have the power to last long term in his current status in the sport.
“The people that say I don’t have knockout power are the people who don’t get into the ring with me,” said Haney. “Nobody who fights me ever says that. Go watch every fight and see what they say after the fight. If I don’t have knockout power, come show me then. Come walk through all these punches that I’m gonna give you. Every fight these guys faces are beat up. I got this far, so let’s keep going with it.”
Going back to before his rise in the sport, the crew asked Haney about his introduction to the sport and if him and his father/trainer Bill saw these extraordinary heights when he first stepped into the gym after getting into fights in school.
“I didn’t know that boxing would change my life,” said Haney. “I wasn’t trippin about boxing, but I always felt like I naturally knew how to fight… Who knows where I would be if it wasn’t for that? I definitely would have been going down the wrong road getting into so much trouble at a young age… I didn’t know where to put my energy and aggression.”
Haney and his father moved from Oakland, California to Las Vegas when Haney was nine-years-old, although as Haney explains, it wasn’t actually because the father-son duo had set their long term boxing goal.
“We didn’t really know how far we could take this,” said Haney. “We were just leaving Oakland for a better life. That was the main thing. We weren’t as serious as we got until we got to Las Vegas. That only came with being here in the boxing capital of the world.”
The crew continued to talk through Haney’s rise, which saw him follow up his amateur career by foregoing the Olympics to turn pro at 16-years-old and fight in Mexico, a unique route for a budding boxing star.
“It was crazy to be fighting in Mexico,” said Haney. “I was one of the first ones to make it kind of cool. The Olympics were a big thing so you could then sign with a big promoter. Me and my dad set out to do something totally different and switch the game up. It was really because they raised the age for the Olympics. I had already been sparring pro champions at that time anyway.”
Throughout his life inside the ring and outside of it, Haney’s father has been a mainstay right by his side. Although his father is involved in every level of Haney’s professional life, the two have managed to navigate their way through the ups and downs that come with those intersections.
“My pops is everything,” said Haney. “He’s my best friend, he’s my father, he really plays all the roles. And he does whatever role he needs to play. At the end of the day, there has to be a balance of when to be a dad and when business is business. We know how to separate the two. I’m not going to say it’s been all butterflies in rainbows. We bump heads as partners, but we get over it.”
The crew also asks Haney about overcoming adversity in the ring and criticism outside the ring. Haney gives honest assessments of criticism about not going for knockouts, before explaining how he bounced back from being hurt with a punch for the first time in his life in his 2021 battle against Jorge Linares.
“That’s the sweet science, to hit and not get hit. It’s easy to go, you hit me and I’ll hit you. I’ll take one to give you one. Anyone who doesn’t even know how to fight can do that. But to hit you as many times as I want and you not be able to hit me, that’s an art. That’s a Picasso. At the end of the day, I have a family and I want to have all my senses when I’m done. I’m going to continue to do what I do, whether they like it or not. As long as I win and keep beating these guys easily.
“That was my first time ever being hurt or wobbled in my life. You can’t believe it. It’s like a moment of shock. But once I sat down and gathered my senses, I said ‘I’m gonna tie him up’. Why would I go mano-a-mano? What sense does that make?”
With potential blockbuster fights in his future against fighters such as Gervonta Davis and Shakur Stevenson, the crew asked Haney what separates him from those fighters and his upcoming foe, Vasyl Lomachenko.
“Nobody trains as hard as me,” said Haney. “They don’t have the discipline, the skills or the ring IQ that I have. I’m made different. I’m one of the chosen few and I was born to do this…When I set out to do this, I didn’t want to be a mediocre fighter. Anything I do, I want to be the best at it. I want my name to live on much longer than I ever will. I’m doing what I’ve seen the greats do. The work ethic, the discipline, that’s what I have to do.”
To close out the episode, the crew asks about Haney’s biggest pivot in his young life. Speaking candidly as he does throughout the episode, Haney explains that he doesn’t believe he’s made a significant pivot in his life so far, and that his desire to achieve more hinders him from looking back in that way.
“I don’t think I’ve had that moment where I can say that this really defined me,” said Haney. “I’m my biggest critic. I always need more. I need to go harder and keep proving myself. I try not to focus on how much I’ve done or what I’ve accomplished.”Predictions for Devin Haney vs Vasiliy Lomachenko
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