Devin Haney is ready for another test, this time versus Mason Menard
Devin Haney knew there would be hell to pay. One look at his father William’s eyes told him that; they were bulging and huge. “Where the hell were you? Out with some girl, no doubt,” William demanded, along with a half-million other questions a concerned father would have for his 16-year-old son, when he sneaks out of the house at two in the morning.
Devin didn’t really have to give an answer. The sweat was pouring out of him, produced from a 40-minute run around the neighborhood, since he didn’t think he was getting enough work in during the day.
That’s usually how it is with the great ones – and for those who aspire to be great: They can never work enough.
And right now, that’s the boxing career arc of Devin Haney. He’s already been lavished with praise and even been christened in some circles as “the next Floyd Mayweather Jr.” However the 19-year-old lightweight from Las Vegas, though originally from San Francisco, California, knows his successful foundation came from hard work and dedication – the mantra of Mayweather’s Money Team.
Haney (18-0, 12 knockouts) is looking to take another step in his career when he fights Mason Menard (33-2, 24 KOs) Friday night, in a scheduled 10-round bout on Showtime’s “ShoBox” card (10 p.m. ET/PT) from the 2300 Arena in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. This will be Haney’s first 10-round test – and his debut on a major cable network.
It seems Haney has worn the prodigy tag since he first put on gloves. He turned pro at 17, when he was a high school senior. The first year of his career he spent in Mexico, living in San Diego, and then taking the 20-minute drive across the border to fight in Tijuana.
At 15 and 16, Haney was sparring with Shawn Porter, Jessie Vargas, Jorge Linares and Mayweather.
He started boxing because he was fighting a lot in school. At 7, Haney knocked a kid who was training as a kickboxer out of his shoes.
“I was a fearless kid, who liked to fight the bullies, not the kid picking on people,” Haney recalled. “I wouldn’t say I was fighting every day but I was a bad little kid. I got suspended from a few schools and expelled. My father picked me up one day and says, ‘I have something for you. I’m taking you to the gym.’
“I told him I didn’t care. I was wide-eyed, I’ll admit, when I first walked into a boxing gym. But I had my poker face on. I had to show this attitude that I didn’t care. My first day I sparred a kickboxer kid, who was a little, young guy like me. I was street fighting, I knocked the kid down and he had these Velcro shoes on, and he fell right out of them.
“I was like, ‘Wow!’”
There was one obstacle Haney had to face – another love he didn’t want to so easily give up: football.
“That was tough,” Devin recalled. “I was around 9 or 10 and I loved playing football but I had to make a choice. I love competitive things and when my team had a losing season, I wanted things placed on me, not the team. It’s why I started leaning more to boxing.”
Haney discovered how good he can be at the junior worlds, when he was 14. Haney had to fight up, getting in the ring with 15- and 16-year-olds. Haney won the tournament in the 119-pound class.
“That told me I could be pretty good in boxing and then I went to Russia and won a bronze, and the next year I won it at 125, went to the Dominican Republic and won a gold,” Haney said.
Haney followed the next year by winning at 132. He posted a 130-8 amateur record – losing to Ryan Garcia three times and beating him three times. William Haney always made sure Devin stayed focused.
“Devin was always getting into fights and I just felt I had to take him to the gym because I figured he might wise up if someone put their hands on him, and it backfired on me because Devin loved it,” said William, laughing. “He knocked the kid out of shoes the first time he sparred. Then he says, ‘Dad, I told you!’
“What was I going to do? One of the trainers from the gym came up to me and said, ‘Your kid is a natural.’”
Menard hasn’t fought in over a year but he is a veteran and he has Devin’s respect.
“Menard has some power and the world is saying that he’s my toughest test, and I’ll agree with that,” Devin said. “He’s going to come to fight and he’s no slouch. I want to show the world that I belong with the top guys. I think Mason is a good fighter; I just think I’m on a different level.”
Apparently he’s been on that level since he first walked into a gym.
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