Bill Haney is the 2023 TSS Boxing Manager of the Year


By Arne K. Lang

It has been written that Bill Haney once hoped that his son Devin would make his mark in football. That all changed when Bill took his son to a boxing gym in hopes that being around boxers would inspire the boy to be more disciplined. After watching the novice go through his paces, an observer, Derrick Harmon, turned to Bill and said, “this kid of yours is a natural.” That was high praise considering the source. Derrick Harmon was a former world title challenger who had shared the ring with the likes of Roy Jones Jr.

Okay, this may not have been the way that things actually unfolded. The timeline may be muddled and there’s undoubtedly more to the story. Regardless, boxing supplanted football as the sport of choice in the Haney household. And from the day precocious Devin first laced on a pair of gloves, Bill Haney, his father and mentor and the primary voice in his corner, hasn’t made a single misstep.

AIBA, the boxing arm of the International Olympic Committee, threw the Haneys a curveball in 2014. The organization raised the minimum age of an Olympic boxer from 17 to 19. There was a push-back, but it failed to gain sufficient traction to get the ruling overturned. Devin left the U.S. Olympic training program when it was confirmed that his age would keep him from competing at the Rio Summer Games and turned pro in Tijuana, Mexico shortly after his 17th birthday. By then, the Haneys had left their home in Oakland and taken up residence in Las Vegas where there was a wealth of good sparring partners and world-class trainers, enabling a young boxer to better refine his tools.

Haney had his first four pro fights and 10 of his first 15 in Tijuana, fighting before small crowds in places like Billar El Perro Salado (translation: The Salty Dog Billiard Parlor). “It was mostly a bunch of drunks,” Bill Haney recollected, ”and they came to see the gringo kid get beat.” Devin, needless to say, never did get beat although one fighter, Hector Garcia Montes, came so close that there would be whispers that the officials were corrupt. By then, Devin had fought twice in his adopted hometown, the first at the MGM Grand where he opened the show at the rubber match between Manny Pacquiao and Timothy Bradley.

Devin hadn’t yet turned 18, that wouldn’t come for another six months, but the Nevada Athletic Commission had recently passed a resolution that allowed a fighter younger than 18 to fight professionally, albeit each case was weighed individually; a petitioner had to pass muster with a committee.

Devin passed muster and breezed to a 4-round decision before a large gaggle of vocal supporters in an arena that at this early hour would have otherwise been virtually empty.

Fast forward to June 5, 2022, in Melbourne, Australia, where Devin Haney outpointed lightweight title-holder George Kambosos Jr before a multitude of more than 40,000 to become the youngest unified champion in the modern, four-belt era. Devin defended the belt twice, winning the obligatory rematch with Kambosos, also in Australia, and then skirting by Vasyl Lomachenko before moving up in weight to challenge WBC 140-pound world champion Regis Prograis. They met earlier this month in San Francisco, the city where Devin was born.

Haney was favored, but there were plenty of sharp bettors who placed their coin on Prograis whose only loss in 30 pro fights had come in England against the Scotsman Josh Taylor in a rip-snorter of a 12-rounder that arguably could have gone either way.

Haney vs. Prograis was shockingly one-sided. Haney won every round on all three cards. It was as if Regis Prograis had grown old overnight, but this explanation isn’t fair to Devin who turned in a masterclass.

Bill Haney will undoubtedly get some votes for Trainer of the Year, but he wears many hats and in our eyes he’s best viewed as his son’s manager. It’s doubtful that any active boxer has a larger team around him and Bill is the glue that holds it all together.

As a trainer, Bill is a composite of many other trainers who have played instrumental roles in bringing his son to this point in his career. They say that too many chefs spoil the broth and they say that a donkey is a horse invented by a committee, but Bill Haney spurns both of these maxims and embraces a contrarian bromide: It takes a village to raise a child.

Over the years, many trainers have worked with Devin Haney. Virgil Hunter comes to mind, as do the Mayweather brothers, Floyd Sr and Roger, Kevin Henry, Eddie Mustafa Muhammad, Rodney Crisler, and Billy Giles. Devin’s godfather Yoel Judah has played a key role and for a time the noted British trainer Ben Davison was part of the team. Davison, who famously resurrected the career of Tyson Fury and currently trains Anthony Joshua, assisted Bill Haney in the corner for Devin’s fights with George Linares and Jojo Diaz. It’s a revolving cast with many of the contributors disappearing for a time only to come back again.

Devin Haney fought Regis Prograis under the Matchroom banner. This wasn’t their first rodeo. The Haneys returned to Matchroom after a three-fight run with Top Rank. Next up, if rumors are true, is a bout with Devin’s amateur rival Ryan Garcia, a longtime member of Oscar De La Hoya’s Golden Boy stable.

Bill Haney has shown a willingness to work with any of the major promoters, which is another way of saying that he prefers to keep his options open. Whatever road he takes regarding Devin’s next fight, it will almost certainly be the right road. As far as we can see, he hasn’t made a misstep yet and that is why he is the 2023 TSS Boxing Manager of the Year.