NYF Exclusive: Devin Haney Quietly Goes About Pursuing Greatness



NYF Exclusive: Devin Haney Quietly Goes About Pursuing Greatness
Photo Credit: Mikey Williams/Top Rank via Getty

Most of us have heard some version of the quote, “the quiet ones are the most dangerous.”

The origin is murky, and the author is even more so. But a modern version of this thought is offered by the late Bruce Lee: “The most dangerous person is the one who listens, thinks, and observes.”

To Devin Haney, the dream is to win respect for his accomplishments, not his social media followers. Photo: Gayle Falkenthal for NYFights

To Devin Haney, the dream is to win respect for his accomplishments, not his social media followers. Photo: Gayle Falkenthal for NYFights

Among the four rising stars of the lightweight division, Devin Haney of Las Vegas could be considered the quiet one. Teofimo Lopez Jr. brought the bombast; Gervonta Davis brought the swagger, and Ryan Garcia brought the glam and social media following. Without question, all four are skilled.

But it’s been Haney who rose to the top, quietly and confidently going about his business and walking the walk instead of merely making unfulfilled promises. This is born from the true confidence of a person in themselves.

In June, Haney went all in on himself in a way his peers haven’t, traveling 8,000 miles to Australia without knowing whether his father and trainer Bill Haney could join him. The senior Haney made it just in time to see his son execute his game plan to perfection, winning a definitive decision over national hero George Kambosos Jr. in Melbourne to become the undisputed lightweight world champion. Haney became the second-youngest undisputed champion in the four-belt era at age 23.

Running It Back with Kambosos Jr. on Oct. 15

Kambosos Jr. vowed to exercise his rematch clause, and he did. Now Haney (28-0, 15 KOs) returns to Melbourne intent on a repeat performance against Kambosos Jr. (20-1, 10 KOs) who’s intent on avenging the single loss on his record. He also vowed he would change his approach in the rematch.

Haney and his father have no intention of letting it happen. Instead, Haney hopes to put an even more definitive stamp on things. Speaking with at the Top Rank Boxing gym in Las Vegas, Haney doesn’t believe he’ll need to reinvent the wheel, because his opponent has run out of ideas.

Expect to see Haney once again use his four-inch reach advantage, superior footwork, and brilliant defensive skills to keep Kambosos Jr. at distance and pouring cold water on any attempt at a firefight. This takes discipline and a constant change of levels. If it were easy, everyone would do it.

With a repeat performance on October 15 (Sunday, October 16 in Australia), Haney can reinforce his case for inclusion on the top ten pound-for-pound list. The slight by the RING Magazine and ESPN rating teams sticks in Haney’s craw. It’s just the sort of motivation a fighter can use to his or her advantage.

This writer witnessed Haney’s American debut in his hometown on the Pacquiao vs. Bradley III undercard in April 2016, just one month after turning 17 years old. Haney was granted permission to fight through an age exemption by the Nevada State Athletic Commission. There were perhaps 300 people at the MGM Grand Garden Arena to see Haney take apart Rafael Vazquez of Puerto Rico in a four-round shutout of 40-36 on all three cards. Vazquez retired after one more fight. asked Haney about that night six years ago and invited him to discuss what respect means to him.

Earning Respect Is Done In The Ring – Not on Instagram

When he beat Kambosos Jr., Haney said “Anyone who steps in the ring deserves respect … A lot of these so-called champions wouldn’t give me my shot. But George gave me my shot, thank you.”

Haney currently sits at the top of the lightweight food chain among his flashier, brash peers. It’s got to be personally satisfying to be in control after repeatedly being ignored and blown off – not unlike making his debut in near anonymity. The time is here for Davis, Garcia, and Lopez to prove they’re made of.

In today’s social media-driven landscape, Devin Haney gets shoved aside by the louder, flashier, and occasionally trashier antics of his rivals. It’s a mistake for boxing fans to let this happen. Haney continues to quietly make history, and he’ll do it whether he’s got an audience or not. Those quiet ones make plans, and then they strike.

Gayle Falkenthal is an award-winning boxing journalist and the only woman journalist who is a full voting member of the Boxing Writers Association of America (BWAA). She is West Coast Bureau Chief based in San Diego, California.