Quick-fisted lightweight Devin Haney enjoyed a break through 2018. He transitioned from prospect to contender by year’s end.
Haney, who is ranked No. 8 by The Ring Magazine at 135 pounds, headlined two “ShoBox” cards last year.
He outboxed former contender Mason Menard before closing the show in the ninth round and followed up with another mature display, using his skills to widely outpoint former three-time world title challenger Juan Carlos Burgos.
“2018 was a big year for me. It was a coming-out party; I guess you could say,” Haney (20-0, 13 knockouts) told RingTV.com.
“A lot of people knew me but they hadn’t really seen me fight live. 2018, I came out and showed the world who I am, that I am the truth.”
He will look to pick up where he left off last year when he faces unbeaten Xolisani Ndongeni (25-0, 13 KOs) on ShoBox, Friday night.
The impressive 20-year-old is full of respect for his opponent, though he won’t be too focused on Ndongeni’s talents, preferring to let the South African worry about him.
“His record speaks for itself; he’s undefeated for a reason,” Haney said.
“Every fight, I’ve been asking to step up. I always choose the toughest guy.
“I try not to watch too much tape because somebody can study me all day but I feel like when I get in there, I’m able to adjust to anyone I fight. I don’t do too much studying. I just go in there and I adjust to what my opponent brings.
“I know this fight isn’t going to be easy,” Haney added, “but I feel this fight is going to bring the best out of me. The better opposition I fight, the better my performance will be.”
Fighting so early in the New Year greatly affects a boxer enjoying the festivities. Haney has had to be disciplined but believes the payoff will be worth it.
“I’ll sacrifice anything now for the bigger picture,” he said.
“I know after the fight, I can celebrate. There’s going to be plenty more celebrations, plenty more New Years, plenty more Christmases.
“I’m not a guy that gets out of whack and has to go full steam on his diet. Everything in moderation.”
After a successful 2018, Haney intends to continue the pursuit of his next goal.
“The goal for this year is to become world champion,” he explained.
“I’m ranked in the Top 10 by three of the organizations. 2019, I want to become world champion.
“A lot of people are putting me in the category of prospect. I feel like I’m a contender already. In 2019, I want to show the world that I’m even more than a contender; I want to be world champion.”
Haney continued, “Right now we’re looking toward (Richard) Commey-(Isa) Chaniev (who meet for the vacant IBF title on February 2) but that’s the fight we’re gearing toward. Like I’ve said before, I’ll fight any champion at 135; I’m not ducking no one. I want to fight all those guys.”
As Haney points out, he is currently ranked at lightweight by the IBF (No. 10), the WBA (No. 8) and the WBC (No. 12).
At the tender age of 20, the youngster has time on his hands but he is intent on winning a world title in this calendar year and isn’t afraid to face the very best to do so.
“I’m willing to fight (The Ring Magazine/WBA/WBO unified lightweight champion Vasiliy) Lomachenko. I don’t see Lomachenko as no better than me,” he said confidently.
“I feel that I could beat Lomachenko now. I don’t feel Lomachenko is ahead of me. I feel like I’m number one and he’s number two.
“In 2019 I will show the world really who I am. 2018 was a great year and 2019 is going to be an even better year for me, starting with Ndongeni. I’m going to put on a great performance and, 2019, watch me become world champion.”