Devin Haney, you probably already know this. If you have ever been of fan of the comic book mythos — that’s print, film, and TV — then you are aware that the best backstories are often reserved for the best bad guys. In fact, every good villain needs a good backstory.
To truly establish a credible scoundrel there has to be an arch to the narrative. For example, the Batman villain Two-Face worked on the side of justice before his criminal startup venture. He went by the name Harvey Dent.
And from Stone Cold Steve Austin to The Joker to Thanos, there are examples throughout genres of the “bad guys” producing big bucks.
Boxing has had many men play the bad guy for the sake of a promotion, but there are also fighters that made a career (successfully) out of being the bad guy. Fighters like Ricardo Mayorga, Roberto Duran, and Mike Tyson took home some of their biggest paydays while in the bad guy/bad boy stage in their careers.
Boxing could be on the verge of its next “bad guy.” He goes by the name Devin Haney.
Haney won a unanimous decision over Vasiliy Lomachenko this past Saturday night in front of a ruckus Las Vegas crowd.
The unanimous decision has been a point of contention in boxing circles throughout social media as fans continue to debate the scorecards.
There are a handful of arguments being used by the “Loma won” crowd, but those are not important right now.
Fight fans are angry because they see this as yet another instance of “boxing being boxing,” which is to say it is corrupt.
Devin Haney went into Saturday with the ire of fight fans focused firmly on him following Friday’s weigh in.
The Push Made It Clear—Devin Haney Can Play Heel
After both men successfully made weight, they lined up for the traditional final stare down— a scene familiar throughout combat sports.
It was then, separated by inches, that Haney made the boldest gesture of war since the promotion started as he violently shoved Loma back, causing Loma’s neck to whiplash. Haney bolted immediately after the altercation.
Haney may have been trying to stir up PPV interest amongst fans stateside by taking advantage of ESPN’s reach— a tactic that plays well on repeat at every sports bar in America the night before the event— or it could have been frustration boiled over and he lost his cool.
Regardless, the outcome of Saturday’s contest only adds to solidify his status as the villain.
Whatever anger a person felt towards Devin Haney going into Saturday was magnified by the decision, and it is also likely that a large demographic of the fans complaining about Saturday’s results are swayed by their feelings toward Haney following “the shove.”
While I’m sure that Haney would have preferred a stoppage to anything else, it could very well be that the 48hrs between Friday and Saturday night play into a bigger narrative. The question will be, does Devin Haney lean into it?
The Floyd Mayweather Heel Turn Not So Easy To Duplicate
One of the most financially successful athletes in sports history is Floyd “Money” Mayweather, and there is a direct correlation between his “heel turn” and the financial uptick that lead to where he is today.
Floyd famously used HBO’s then groundbreaking programming “24/7” to embody the bad guy persona, and it worked.
He would spend the next decade routinely breaking the million buys benchmark until he just shattered it altogether with Pacquiao and McGregor.
The blueprint for being the bad guy is clear, but the most important part is being a fighter that fans want to see lose.
That was the reason that Floyd, a fighter that did not put on very many action-packed affairs, was able to draw so well. Because as many people that paid to watch him win, even more paid to watch him lose.
It is a tried and true formula. Like Hulk Hogan ditching the red and yellow for the black and white, it is about realizing the colors only matter when they produce green.
After all, it is all just a show for a paying public, and the secret that consumers want to believe is that life is a battle between good and bad all the while knowing that we live in a world of gray— the same color that fans used to describe Devon Haney before Saturday.