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Devin Haney v Vasiliy Lomachenko: The Rise of Devin Haney

It’s not unusual for a young fighter to travel to Mexico to begin their professional career.

When the rules are against you it’s time to get creative.

Former Team USA member Devin Haney had originally hoped to go to the 2016 Rio Olympics, but the age rules were changed. A heartbroken Haney and his father Bill decided to something different.

As a teenager Haney fought south of the American border on several occasions aged just 17. He was too young for an American licence, so plan B became Tijuana.

Fights would take place at pool halls, bars, and hotels. It was a useful education for a young man who would often have hundreds of people against him whenever he fought in the city.

Started from the bottom

Having turned down offers from promoters of six-figure signing deals, Haney and his father did it their own way.

The duo co-promoted their first 21 fights. His 19th fight took him to Philadelphia and a significant step up in class against Mason Menard. Quick hands and feet allowed his opponent to do very little in a dominant performance by Haney. The corner of Menard stopped the fight before the start of round 10.

The win came when Haney was fighting on Showtime as part of the renowned Shobox: The New Generation series. A breeding ground for the stars of tomorrow.

Twelve months on he joined a promoter not particularly cared for by American fight figures but one who was desperate to crack their boxing market. Eddie Hearn.

Hearn said in a Matchroom press release: "Devin Haney is a superstar - no two ways about it.

“At just 20 years old he has already racked up 21 victories, untouched as a pro and has become one of the most talked about fighters in America.”

Haney and Hearn ventured to Maryland for their first venture. Antonio Moran was picked as the man to give the rising star a workout. The Mexican had been beat three times previous and had gone the distance with Jose Pedraza, who fought Gervonta ‘Tank’ Davis in 2017.

The win for Haney was expected but not the brutality of it. The one punch knockout in round five was replayed many, many times throughout the remainder of 2019.

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An heir to Floyd Mayweather Jr?

Still only 21, the future was bright for Haney. No-one could predict his ceiling, but America was looking for an heir to Floyd Mayweather Jr. 

The unbeaten lightweight was giving them hope that he was the man.

A fourth round TKO of Zaur Abdallev came four months on from Moran. His time as WBC Interim Lightweight champion came to an end when the sanctioning body elevated him to full champion in October 2019.

His first defence, and his fourth fight of 2019, was not one which impressed the crowd at the Staples Centre in Los Angeles who were waiting for Logan Paul and KSI to fight. Haney dislocated his right shoulder but fought on to get a points win.

After a year out Haney was fed veterans Yuriorkis Gamboa and then Jorge Linares in May 2021. His talents were clear to see, and he made winning look easy, but his career lacked a gut check, an opponent who could push him all the way.

His toughest test then came in his next bout against Joseph Diaz., with Haney retaining his title with a unanimous decision. Diaz said he would bring the “dog” out in the champion. The performance was almost irrelevant and while we saw a bit more aggression from Haney the goal was simply to win.

George Kambosos Jr was ringside that night and the idea was clear - Kambosos Jr v Haney for the undisputed lightweight title in Australia. There was to be a catch. If Haney won, he had to come back and do it all over again.

Haney soon became a free agent and joined promotional powerhouse Top Rank. In June and October last year Haney won nearly every one of the 24 rounds rounds at both the Marvel Stadium and Rod Laver Arena in Melbourne against Kambosos Jr.

It was a humbling education for the Australian who tried everything possible to rile the visitor. Haney was undisputed.

Tijuana had prepared him for Australia which was evident in the level of boxing he displayed against the former champion.

On Saturday night at the MGM Grand, Las Vegas Vasiliy Lomachenko represents the biggest challenge to Haney’s reign. The Ukrainian may not be the unbeatable phenomenon he once was but presents a style and ring IQ that Haney hasn’t faced yet in a professional ring. 

One thing is for sure, nothing will intimidate Haney.

View the latest odds for Haney v Lomachenko

Watch all the latest Boxing News videos, including all the build-up to Haney v Lomachenko and Taylor v Cameron HERE.

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