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Devin Haney breaks down his win over George Kambosos Jr, the rematch clause, and Ryan Garcia not really wanting big fights

Devin Haney discussed his win over George Kambosos Jr, his belief that Ryan Garcia doesn’t really want big fights, and more on The MMA Hour.

Devin Haney discussed his win over George Kambosos Jr, his belief that Ryan Garcia doesn’t really want big fights, and more on The MMA Hour
Scott Christ is the managing editor of Bad Left Hook and has been covering boxing for SB Nation since 2006.

Devin Haney is just days removed from his undisputed lightweight championship win over George Kambosos Jr in Australia, and was a guest on Wednesday’s MMA Hour to talk about that win and more.

Some of what Haney discusses:

  • Further thoughts on Kambosos’ “act” and the looming, seemingly inevitable rematch clause that sends Haney back to Australia
  • Ryan Garcia not really wanting to fight anybody
  • Gervonta Davis and Vasiliy Lomachenko being desired opponents

On the experience in Australia and the issues with Bill Haney’s visa

“I was supposed to go three weeks early, but everything that was happening with my dad, I went like (15 days early). ... Honestly, it was very stressful, just worrying if he was going to make it. Every day was up in the air. He was going to be able to come, he was not going to be able to come, this and that. Me still having to stay focused and adjust to my other coaches and my guys who had been there, but my dad was the guy who was doing everything. They were the guys I would go to secondary, but now they’re calling the shots. It was a different experience, but it all paid off and worked out.”

“(I haven’t fought without my dad in the corner) since I was a little kid, nine or 10 years old. Not as a pro. I don’t even spar (unless he’s there), he’s the person I look to for instructions. It’s not that I can’t, but it’s just something we do. We’re a team, we’re like peanut butter and jelly, we go together.”

“It was crazy (when he got there). When I got the news initially, it changed everything. It was a crazy feeling. But I was still a little nervous because he still had to go through customs, but when I finally saw him it was, like, ‘Oh my God, you finally made it.’”

“(My dad’s) definitely a character and it’s a hell of an experience for him to have been there. It was all worth it, everything, even us not knowing if he would make it, because it brought me and my team together closer. It could not have worked out any better.”

On whether he got sick of what he called Kambosos’ “act”

“I wouldn’t say I was getting tired of him, but I was tired of him acting, putting on this persona. You can see right through it, you can tell that it’s fake. It was like WWE. I was, like, ‘Just be yourself, we all see right through it.’ Bro, what are you acting for? We’re gonna go in there, we’re gonna fight.

“I don’t believe in fear, like, ‘he fears me.’ When we’re about to fight, he’s gonna do what he’s gonna do, I’m gonna do what I’m gonna do, and the best man will win. All the rah-rah and this and that, it’s just pointless.”

On whether Kambosos missing weight made him nervous

“No, because the fight still would have gone on. He just would have to pay a fee and couldn’t win the belts, only I could. He was only a few ounces over, I knew he was making weight.”

“It didn’t give me more confidence, but I knew it was in his head. I knew it was fucking with him that he didn’t make weight. I knew that he was embarrassed, for the most part.”

On the “art of war, deception” claim: “It just showed that he was embarrassed. He couldn’t even admit that maybe his scale was off or something like that. He had to come up with a new narrative, and just showed he was acting. Everything was off the cuff, there was no real, like, blueprint or nothing like that. He was just freestyling.”

On the scene in front of 40,000 in Melbourne

“I soaked it all in. It gave me fuel, it charged me up. Like, ‘Yeah, this is the time.’ I was just so prepared for it, I think they tried to scare me so much that I was mentally ready for however many people were there. If there were two million people, it wouldn’t have mattered. I was ready to rock on the way in.”

On whether he was hurt by Kambosos

“No, not even close. I was never buzzed, hurt, never even felt an ‘ouch.’”

On the fight being easier than he expected

“No, because me and my team did a great job studying him. We dissected everything he did, and I knew I would (take away) his best attributes. We took away his weapons, we disarmed him. We knew the fight would be easy if I just followed the game plan.”

On when he realized fully that the fight was in his hands

“That was only in the last round. Every round before that, we took it one round at a time. Just racking it up, ‘OK, that’s another one, OK, that’s another one. OK, what round is this, that’s another.’ Round after round after round. I pretty much took the last round because I knew that I had racked up so many rounds that I knew I just had to stay relaxed, stay focused, and don’t get caught with anything.”

On whether he had any worries about the judges

“I knew my team had done a great job making sure we had neutral judges. They did their research on each judges. We did the proper protocol to make sure we’d have no robbery or anything going on.”

On the immediate rematch clause in Australia

“I’ll meet with my team next week to go over everything and see what’s next. We’re not ruling anything out. Obviously I signed up for the rematch, but we gotta see. I’m not ducking or dodging nobody, I’ll fight whenever, wherever. We want to make the biggest fights happen. We’ll go over it and we’ll see, I really don’t know. Right now I’m just relaxing, recouping, spending time with the family. Next week, we’ll lock back in to see what’s next.”

On whether it’s hard to motivate to do it over again: “No, because I’m undisputed champion. I’ve got a lot to protect and be motivated for, to stay the top guy in the lightweight division. You never get to take nobody lightly, no matter who it is. Even if I just said, ‘Hey, I wanna do a one-off fight,’ and fight a random, like, a homecoming, I still would have to stay 100 percent focused and locked in. When you’re at the top, everybody wants your head.”

On who he’d choose to fight if it were his choice

“Whatever fight makes the most sense, obviously. ... I don’t know. Obviously, the Lomachenko fight, that’s a huge fight. But all of them get me excited! Gervonta Davis, Lomachenko, those two pretty much are top on the list, because they’re just — that makes the most sense. The other guys I really don’t rate like that.”

On Ryan Garcia

“Yeah. I mean... he doesn’t really... He’s popular, but at the end of the day, I’m chasing legacy. I don’t care about Instagram followers or nothing like that. I want to make the biggest fights happen for my legacy. Instagram followers is cool and all, but I’m not into fighting for followers. I’m into fighting for belts and legacy, for my name to live on forever.”

“I doubt (Garcia vs Gervonta Davis) will happen. I don’t think Ryan wants to fight anybody. ... Of course (he Tweeted a lot during my fight). That’s what he does, he’ll Tweet up a storm, call all these fighters out — the guy said he was fighting Pacquiao. Come on now. The guy uses fighters to promote his fight, then after he wins his fight against a nobody, he goes and fights another nobody. This is a repetitive cycle for him. I really don’t give him too much attention because I read between the lines. I know he isn’t going to fight anybody.”

On if he’d pick Tank Davis over Garcia: “Of course.”

On Gervonta Davis’ win over Rolando Romero

“It didn’t surprise me. I never rated Romero, I don’t understand why the world felt like Romero even had a chance. Romero hasn’t fought at the top level, hasn’t beat anybody at the top level. He lost to a guy before he even got to the top level and they gave him a decision. What did he have to make anybody feel like he could beat Tank, besides a punch? When you’re at the top, everybody can punch. Everybody has power.”

On working with Top Rank and ESPN for the first time

“Everything worked out well, we made history together. I’m happy to be moving forward and we’re looking at what’s next.”

“I have two more fights (with Top Rank), three total.”

On whether he heard from Eddie Hearn

“Yeah, Eddie congratulated me and that was about it.”

On whether he expected to be where he is at 23

“I definitely felt like it happened a lot sooner (than I expected). I knew I would be the man, the guy, but I never thought at 23 years old, I would be here this fast. But we got a jump-start turning pro at 17, and I thank my dad for guiding me and putting me in this position.”

On whether young fighters may copy the Haney blueprint of success

“Other guys can follow that blueprint and learn and do the same thing. That’s what it’s all about, inspiring guys to want to do it the Devin Haney way.”

On Damian Lillard flying to Australia for the fight

“He had told me he wanted to come, but I didn’t really, like, think he would come. But he really came, and that’s amazing. We’re both from Oakland, Calif., and it’s just amazing to have his support, us being from the same place and him being a mega-star from Oakland and coming to support me. I really appreciated him coming.”

On the ESPN ratings being over 1.5 million viewers

“The ratings did really well, which I expected. It was a big fight for everything. I’m happy with it.”

On when the rematch happens if it does

“I think November, but I’m not sure, don’t quote me on that*. But I think November.”

[* Editor’s Note: Sorry, Devin.]

On planning to fight again this year

“Yeah, of course, I want to get back in the ring as soon as possible. I didn’t take much punishment. A couple headbutts, some swelling and a black eye a little bit, but other than that I feel great.”

On whether his dad could have issues going back to Australia

“I would have to have a guarantee that my dad will be able to make it. No ifs, ands, or buts about it. 100 percent, we need some proof that it wouldn’t be the same situation as last time.”

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