Gordon: Devin Haney wants undisputed glory

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Maybe the boos would actually bother Devin Haney. If he hadn’t been booed regularly since he was 16.

Maybe fighting overseas would actually intimidate him. If 10 of his first 15 pro fights weren’t in Tijuana, Mexico.

Perhaps nothing can bother the 23-year-old WBC lightweight champion. Not unified lightweight champion George Kambosos Jr. Nor the 16-hour flight to his native Australia from his Kambosos. Nor tens of thousands of his supporters at Marvel Stadium in Melbourne.

We will find out on Saturday evening.

“Wherever the ring is, that’s my home,” Haney said. “When I get to Australia, I’ll make the ring my home. It’ll be me and him in there. And I’ll get back to fighting no matter what.

Haney is the embodiment of his nickname “The Dream”, living just that at the age of 23. He can become the youngest undisputed champion of boxing’s four-belt era on Saturday – if he beats his 28-year-old Australian counterpart in his backyard. .

It’s a noble conquest for Haney (27-0, 15 KOs), a Bay Area born Las Vegan long destined to become a superstar. But he has the tools to master the brash WBA, WBO and IBF champion: precise goal-striking, deft footwork and, above all, the undying confidence – and will – to chase greatness in adverse circumstances.

“It’s history. My name will be in the history books forever – and that will be it for my career,” Haney said. “It will make me a superstar in the sport of boxing today.

“That’s why I work so hard. Dedicated. Concentrate. Because it’s close.

Ballrooms and billiard rooms

Haney would drive from Las Vegas to Tijuana, driving more than six hours to fight in pool halls, ballrooms and bars. Archival footage of a teenage Haney exists on YouTube, documenting the humble beginnings of his dream – and the adversity he is now used to braving.

“I was so nervous because I was in a place that I didn’t know anything about,” Haney said, recalling his professional debut. “At that point in my career, nobody was going to Tijuana. It wasn’t that common. … I had to do what I had to do.

Doing what he had to do meant enduring a barrage of boos and jeers. Sometimes by crowds of 500. Sometimes by crowds of 2,000.

He even got booed in his hometown of Las Vegas during his last title defense against JoJo Diaz Jr. He doesn’t mind that at all, though. On Saturday, he will likely fight before 40,000.

“When the whole place is against you, they’re against you,” he said. “It won’t be anything I’m not used to. It’s like that.”

At the precipice of greatness

Like the rest of Haney’s fights, these were designed for his development. They were designed to develop his skills and his mark, then to secure and ultimately defend the title he will risk on Saturday against Kambosos.

In order to secure the fight with Kambosos (20-0 10 KOs), however, Haney left the comfort of longtime promotional partner Matchroom Boxing to sign a co-promotion deal with Top Rank and Dibella Entertainment that calls for a rematch. in Australia if he win.

Essentially, the deal was negotiated with more favorable terms for Kambosos.

Fine by Haney. For the moment.

“Nobody was always on the A side. At some point you have to take the B side to be the A side forever if you keep winning,” says Haney. B and find myself at the top. It’s an investment. To be the guy. To come out on top with everything. All the belts in the division.

If he leaves this ring on Saturday with all four belts, the boos, jeers and moves will have served their purpose in crowning a new king.

“Everyone wants to be the guy. Everyone wants to make the most money,” Haney said. “Everyone wants to be the A side. Sometimes you have to sacrifice to win.”

He appears to be carefree – and perhaps unchallenged.

Contact Sam Gordon at [email protected] Follow @BySamGordon on Twitter.

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