Devin Haney: “I’ve been locked in the dungeon”

(Interview by Declan Warrington)

BN: Ahead of your victory in December over Regis Prograis it was still being said that you didn’t deserve the decision over Vasyl Lomachenko. Heading into Saturday’s fight, it’s instead being said how superbly you performed against Prograis. How has that change influenced your build-up to this fight?

DH: It doesn’t change [my attitude] at the end of the day. I’m a true professional. So it doesn’t matter what they say about the last performance. It’s time for me to get up for this fight, and that’s my main focus. The past is behind me – what I did in the past – now it’s time to prove myself again, and that’s what I’ll do.

BN: Have you been worried that the erratic Ryan Garcia wouldn’t make it to the ring on Saturday?

DH: No. At the end of the day I knew Ryan would show up. This is a big fight – it’s a huge opportunity for him as well. I can’t put too much energy into focusing on Ryan and whether he’s gonna show up. I can only focus on being myself, and prepared, and being the best that I can be – no matter if it’s Ryan or not.

BN: Has his profile, and behaviour, allowed you to enjoy the build-up to your fight, given the extent to which it reduces the pressure on you to promote the occasion?

DH: Yeah. I’ve been locked in the dungeon. I’ve been preparing and sharpening my tools and getting ready for warfare. He has a lot going on, and it will show – and it will prove [how focused and committed or otherwise he’s been] – and it will come out on fight night.

BN: To what extent do you agree with those who have described Garcia’s behaviour as an “act”?

DH: Again, that’s not my focus. My focus has been being the best me that I can be – focusing on myself, and going in there and putting on a masterclass once again.

We gotta see. He’s a C-level [fighter] – he’s an average fighter with a name. I am an elite-level fighter. I am levels above this guy. I am the real deal. This guy is a popular, average fighter – and that’s what I’ll show. I’ll show that he’s not at the top level.

BN: You went 3-3 as amateurs. How much do you think he’s improved since then, and how important is it for you to settle your rivalry?

DH: I gotta share the ring with him to see, but he’s not elite level like I am.

It’s very important. It’s time for me to put this thing to bed. Once and for all, the Devin-Ryan saga will be over. The better man will win on April 20, and that will be me. Inshallah.

BN: It’s little secret Arnold Barboza Jnr has been on standby to replace him. Has the possibility of that influenced your preparations?

DH: No. My main focus is fighting Ryan Garcia, and being the best I can possibly be. Arnold Barboza is on the undercard [versus Sean McComb] and he’s on the undercard for a reason. The people are coming to watch me and Ryan Garcia.

BN: Last year, after successive fights in Australia in 2022, you recorded your biggest win, over Lomachenko, in Las Vegas, and drew a significant crowd in San Francisco against Prograis. How important is it for you to make an impression on the East Coast this weekend?

DH: Oh, it’s a dream come true. Inshallah. I thank Allah for it. I dreamed of being on these stages, and now I’m here. What better way than New York City – the megaphone of the world? Where all eyeballs – everybody – can watch here, and see this greatness that I have?

I love fight week. That’s the fun part. It’s almost time for me to shine and show the world everything that I’m capable of. But it’s also part of – like I said, I dreamed of these moments, and trained for these moments, so I’m thankful to finally be here. I’ve seen a lot of fighters coming up as a young kid, in fight week and doing interviews, and I wanted to be here one day. And now my time has come, and I want to embrace it all. I love the process; the build-up.

I don’t really believe in pressure. I put my faith and my trust in Allah, and I let him take control.

BN: In the build-up to fighting Prograis at super lightweight you were already speaking of moving to welterweight. You then produced a career-best performance. Did that performance change your plans?

DH: I wanna be an all-time great in the sport. I see myself going up in weight classes; proving myself; doing what the greats did. [Earning parity with] the greats – beating these guys, one by one. It all starts with beating Ryan Garcia. That’s my main focus. April 20, it will be fireworks – the world will see.

BN: Do you agree with those who have said that Garcia will fight as recklessly as he appears to have prepared for this fight?

DH: Yes. I think he’ll come out reckless, and I think he’ll run into something. I’ll use his aggression against him – I will hurt him. It will hurt him.

One hundred per cent [it’s going to be painful for him]. But I’m not coming in there to run around the ring. I’m not gonna be hard to find.

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