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Devin Haney discusses end of his Olympic dream and decision to turn pro as a teenager

Devin Haney was looking to compete at Rio 2016, but a rule change sent him to the pro ranks.

Devin Haney Media Workout Photo by Jack Thomas/Getty Images
Scott Christ is the managing editor of Bad Left Hook and has been covering boxing for SB Nation since 2006.

Devin Haney is the current WBC lightweight titleholder and at age 21, has already built a strong and growing brand for himself in the professional ranks, emerging as one of the best and most-talked about young fighters in boxing, someone seen by many as a big piece of the sport’s future.

As an amateur, Haney was a standout, but didn’t go to the ultimate highest level competition, the Olympics. On The Rounds with Chris Algieri, Haney discussed what happened with his Olympic dream, and why he wound up not going for the 2016 team, instead turning pro in late 2015.

“I was preparing at the Team USA training center and I was flying all over the world and fighting in Italy, Russia, Czech Republic, preparing to go to the Olympics. I was away from my family, I was doing online schooling, getting my mind ready to hopefully go to the Olympics,” he said.

“Then they changed the age rules, and I was in Colorado Springs when it happened, it was heartbreaking. It was always my dream to go to the Olympics and represent my country. Once I knew that it was impossible to go to the Olympics, we had to move forward, I said I was going to train and develop my pro style and become a pro fighter.”

With Haney too young to get a license to fight professionally in the United States, he looked to Mexico.

“I was going to turn pro in Mexico at the age of 16, but people were telling me not to do it, that it was corrupt over there and that I might get a bad decision, because at the time, not many people were going over there to do that, but now it’s changed,” he said.

“So, we prepared a little longer and then I was 17 that’s when I made my debut in Mexico. It was crazy, I didn’t know what to expect, the whole crowd was against me, it was a bar, 600-700 people all against me and I had to fight, but I feel it developed me in the right way.”

Haney would have his first four bouts in Tijuana, and even after making his U.S. debut in April 2016, he would have six more fights in Tjuana before focusing entirely on fights in the United States.

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