A blue-chip talent like Devin Haney could’ve chosen any promoter he liked to bring him to the next level.
When it came time to settle down with Eddie Hearn’s Matchroom Boxing USA outfit, it wasn’t going to take a pile of cash or a [luxury car to put him over the edge; a simple yet detailed conversation did the trick.
“When we sat down with Eddie, we were confident he was the best fit to bring our career to the next level,” Haney (22-0, 14KOs) told BoxingScene.com of a move that also led to his being prominently showcased on sports streaming service DAZN. “We knew he was the best promoter to get us to a world title, who believed in what we’re trying to build and who could keep me active while pursuing all of those goals.”
The 20-year young lightweight is now one step away from fighting for his first major title, although he hoped to be at that point heading into his DAZN debut just over three months ago. A highlight reel knockout of Antonio Moran in late May initially carried the hope of facing England’s Luke Campbell for a vacant title.
That opportunity instead went to Vasiliy Lomachenko, who became a three-belt unified titlist following a 12-round win over Campbell on Aug. 31 in London, England.
Haney’s consolation prize comes in the form of what started out as a final eliminator with Russia’s Zaur Abdullaev (11-0, 7KOs), which headlines at Hulu Theater in New York City this Friday. The DAZN-streamed main event is now for an interim title, with the winner to either land a crack at Lomachenko or eventually receive an upgrade to full titlist in the event of a promise made becoming a promise broken.
Securing such status for this bout was crucial, as the clock is ticking in regard to how long Haney will be able to stick around at the weight.
“We will drive and proceed to make sure we match his work ethic,” vowed Hearn, already among the hardest working promoters in the world today. “When you look at someone as special as Devin Haney, you don't want to lse that opportunity to win that first world title at 135.
“There is no question that he's going to move through the weight classes. You're looking at a guy who can win titles all the way up to 154 pounds.”
It was a conversation that began in the first quarter of 2019 prior to Haney signing with Matchroom, with everyone remaining on the same page—including the company’s role in his career.
“The biggest thing signing with Eddie is that he understood the importance of maintaining our brand,” states Bill Haney, the father and head trainer of the rising star, whose past few bouts prior to signing with Hearn came under Devin Haney Promotions as the youngest licensed boxing promoter in the United States. “We weren’t going to fold up shop and just fight under another promoter’s banner.
“Eddie and his team really understood that, very respectful of Devin’s vision both as an athlete and someone looking to build a brand. That was very important to us, and we appreciate how much (Matchroom) respects that vision.”
The rest is up to the boxer himself to do his job in the ring, with the next step coming this weekend.
“It’s not the title fight we hoped for, but we know that (Hearn) did everything he could to make it happen,” acknowledges Haney. “He worked hard to try to get us that title fight, and put in the work for this fight to (materialize). All we have to do is get the win and keep it going.”
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox