Trainer Bill Haney will not be in his son Devin’s corner when Devin faces George Kambosos Jr on June 4 in Australia for the undisputed lightweight championship, but he told the DAZN Boxing Show that he’s 100 percent confident that their years of preparation will result in a dominant performance.
Bill also touched on Yoel Judah stepping in to be the chief second in Devin’s corner, plus his hope that Kambosos doesn’t try to “weasel out of” the rematch clause he insisted on, as he hopes to get the Haney side fully paid for the two agreed fights, and he gave Matchroom and DAZN a lot of credit for not tying the Haney side down contractually and allowing them to make the move for a “legacy” fight.
On when he found out he wouldn’t be going to Australia
“Me and Devin had to file for work visas, him going as a fighter and me going as the head trainer. We filled out our paperwork, and I was informed maybe a week before he actually left that we were having problems with my visa.”
“I didn’t know prior to signing (for the fight that it would be a problem). But in hindsight, I would have done the same thing. Devin actually gave me an assignment after him and Eddie (Hearn) got a chance to talk and came to an agreement of what they could and couldn’t do moving forward. The specific assignment was to make the (Kambosos) fight happen. He said, ‘Dad, make it happen.’ That’s just what I did.”
On how he feels about being absent for the fight
“Devin is our Steph Curry, he is our Michael Jordan, he’s our LeBron. I’m a role player on our team and I understand my role — however good, however big, however important, I’m still a role player on this team. Devin is our guy, he’s ready to go. ... It’s not like sending your kid away to go to college, I think it’s a little bit more intense than that, but it’s not as intense as mothers and fathers who have watched their sons go away to war. I’ve not experienced that heartbreak, and I won’t put more on it than what it is.
“This is a sport, and we’ve been working and preparing 15 years (for this). I’ll leave it at that. I want to be there, but Devin is the guy. He’s been prepared, and it’s just something that you have to do. You have to let go and trust in the work you’ve put in.”
On whether Team Kambosos have tried to stack the deck
“I think it’s being built up for it to be a storybook performance. It’s being built up for Devin to do what everyone else has considered to be the impossible, what we’ve set out to do from day one — be on the big stage at a big event for all the marbles. This is the Super Bowl of the lightweight division. Make no mistake, whatever you’re actually pulling for, you’ve now come to realize it takes a lot to get to the Super Bowl or get to those four belts. That’s why very few have accomplished it. This is one of the many tasks we’ve had to face. Me not being there, of course them wanting it to be a one-way rematch clause in the sense that if Kambosos was to lose, we come back to Australia and beat him again.”
On Matchroom and DAZN not standing in the way of the fight
“Again, (this is the) specific task that Devin gave me after speaking with Eddie and Joe Markowski with DAZN — who I may add did a wonderful job in building us and getting us to this point. Eddie promised us along the way that nothing would get in the way of having a legacy-defining fight.
“For both Joe and Eddie to not contractually tie Devin down and be able to build him up and get him ready for a legacy-defining fight like this — it took a team effort on everybody’s part. I’m just happy that it actually came together.”
“From the very beginning, Eddie believed in us, he paid us what we agreed, what our worth was in the market. It drove the price (for other lightweights), it let everyone know they can make it happen. Eddie was definitely instrumental in this process, and he never did hate on any part of it.
“Devin has a fondness and a loyalty for Eddie that, I mean, it got down to the wire that maybe this fight might not have happened. They had a private, intimate conversation, and after Devin got off the phone with Eddie, he said, ‘Pop, make it happen.”
On whether he’s still trying to secure a visa
“I haven’t been told no. I’ve still been going through the process with immigration attorneys from Top Rank and everyone. For all intents and purposes, I could be let in as (late) as the day before the fight. I’ll continue to stay optimistic and do everything I can for Devin and to handle business here at home.”
“I was absolutely gutted about that, the fact Ben also wouldn’t be there. He’s having issues with his visa, I wish him well and his family well, and hope that in the last minute he can be there as well.”
“Listen, Yoel Judah, we’ve had nothing but respect for him and everything he’s done in boxing with Zab. He’s the perfect guy in any kind of hostile environment. Yoel is the guy you wanna go with. He has that Brooklyn attitude. He wears it on his sleeve. He’s the kind of guy — he’s a fighter’s coach. He believes in the fighter whole-heartedly. I can’t say enough about him. He went into hostile territory with Zab in that Cory Spinks down there in St. Louis. It’s a legendary story. He’s a guy I have tremendous faith in.”
On any other options they considered
“I went with my gut. I developed Devin with a whole plethora of different trainers and mentors. I think that Devin is the kind of race car that any one of them could drive it at this point in time, you know what I mean?
“It could have been Floyd Mayweather Sr. You’ve got Virgil Hunter, who was very instrumental and helped during this camp like he always does when we go up to the Bay. Mike McCallum, who’s at home with me right now. Billy Giles on the east coast, a former coach of Hector Camacho. We’ve been working with him since Devin was young. I took a non-traditional approach, and I let a village or a fraternity of Hall of Fame coaches teach us the game.”
On how Devin has handled the absence
“He gave me my just due in the sense of, he gave us our moment to think about it and say, OK, we wouldn’t be together after being together for the last 27 fights. But after he gave me a chance to tell him what he’s meant to me and how I believe in him, he assured me, he said, ‘Pops, I’m going to go make this happen, I’m going to go get all the belts, and I’ll meet you back at home.’”
On whether Kambosos might pass on a rematch if Haney dominates
“As soon as Devin gets through dominating George Kambosos, I don’t want them to get out of paying me twice for the deal that I’ve done. So tell them, do not get George Kambosos out of it, don’t try to weasel out of it. We’ll be back to put on another great performance in front of the Victorian government. That’s whether I’m there or not.
“I put together the deal because I felt like Devin is the dominant fighter with George Kambosos. George Kambosos and his team came back and held it over my head and said, ‘We’ve got to do it twice.’ We’re gonna beat you once and then beat you again. His job will just be convincing the people that he’s worthy enough of getting beat twice.”
On whether the Pacquiao-Horn controversy worries him
“Not at all. ... This is Devin Haney. We haven’t been in any close fights. We don’t know what a close fight is. We’re looking to go in and dominate him and put in a hell of a performance. If we’re talking about this pushing this boxing forward, the best fighting the best, truly making this an international and a global sport, then everything will be level in terms of the judges and referees.
“Those are things we can’t control. We can only get in there and put on the performance of a lifetime and that’s what I expect Devin to do. We’ll leave the job up to qualified professionals to come in on their A-game. We’re going to be on our A-game, so we expect the judges to do it as well. We don’t expect a C-level or D-level performance out of some judges when it’s a fight of this magnitude. Everyone be as professional as they can and may the best man win.”
On if Haney has a deal to face Vasiliy Lomachenko after two Kambosos fights
“We’ve come over to Top Rank like a hot knife in butter. We’ve always wanted to fight the best, right? And if Top Rank has the fighters and those are the events the people want to see, by all means, we’re here. We’ve been looking for the challenge, we’ve been looking for the fighters to make these events historic.”
On Devin being totally prepared for the fight despite any issues
“Nothing will be able to help George. (Kambosos) said something about the long flight; Devin got off the flight, ran five miles, and then went to the gym. He said that, you know, the crowd; well, I mean, you go into it booing you and leave respecting you. We look forward to taking some Australian fans that are new to us and turning them into Devin Haney fans. It’s a great opportunity.”