By: Sean Crose
“This is a dream come true to be living in Las Vegas and headlining the MGM Grand,” says WBC lightweight titlist Devin Haney on the eve of his Saturday battle against Joseph ‘JoJo’ Diaz, Jr. “I never thought that it would come this fast, but it’s here and now it’s time for me to really perform at this great arena and show that I am here to stay.” If Haney has his way then perhaps he will headline many more nights under the lights in Vegas. “It’s going to be great to be back in front of fans in full force,” he adds, “there might not be anywhere better than the MGM Grand for a big fight, I’m so excited for this. I know what I am up against, and I am ready for it and the fans should be too.”
It’s clear the 26-0 Vegas resident isn’t writing off his 32-1-1 opponent, whose bested the likes of Tevin Farmer, and whose lone loss came at the gloved hands of Gary Russell Jr over three years ago. “JoJo is a good fighter,” Haney says, “he’s going to come to fight, we know that. He’s going to bring his best, I’m bringing mine. So, the best man will win – and that will be me. You can talk about size and heart, but I just feel that I am a better fighter than him and skills pay the bills.”
As far as Haney is concerned, matches between high level opponents can absolutely get made, despite the perception such bouts can be nearly impossible to turn into reality. “When fighters want to fight, it gets done,” he says. “Sometimes the networks and the politics get in the way, but nine times out of ten, you can make any fighter as the fighters have the power.” That’s a statement that’s rarely said these days.
As for those opponents he does face, Haney appears to be used to being underestimated. “Everybody says ‘I’m gonna bang Devin out’,” claims Haney. “I’ve been seeing that my whole life. Did I get this far by letting people rough me up or bang me out? Come on. I can do everything, so you can do whatever you want, it’s not going to work. I don’t know how you beat me; I can’t tell you.” Jo Jo Diaz may have a few ideas. Whether those ideas will actually incarnate themselves in the ring this weekend remains to be seen.
*Cover Photo Credit: Ed Mulholland/Matchroom Boxing USA