“I think I’m the best, but I know that I will get better,” Haney said. “I’m still learning on the job, and I understand that.”
The Haneys attribute that willingness to learn from almost anyone to their start in the sport. Bill Haney is Devin’s head trainer, but he had never boxed or coached. He owned a hip-hop record label in Oakland, Calif., before selling it and moving to Las Vegas. When Devin began boxing as a grade-schooler, Bill immersed himself in the sport, learning from Devin’s trainers and eventually opening his own gym.
Bill Haney likens their current setup to a football team: He is the head coach, working with a rotating cast of high-level trainers as coordinators on a fight-by-fight basis, each adding to the Haney playbook.
“If I tell him, ‘come back with the hook,’ that’s Eddie Mustafa Muhammad,” Bill Haney said, referring to the veteran trainer and former light heavyweight champion. “If I say, ‘close it up and walk down,’ that’s Floyd Mayweather Sr. If I say, ‘get out of neutral,’ that’s Roy Jones Jr. Those are the plays that we learned from the greats.”
But Bill will most likely not work Devin’s corner against Kambosos. As of Thursday, he was still awaiting a visa to enter Australia, the delay stemming from a drug possession conviction in the early 1990s. Likewise, the English trainer Ben Davison, who was scheduled to assist Haney for the Kambosos fight, has been denied a visa. Davison is a past associate of Daniel Kinahan, the boxing power broker accused of leading an Irish organized crime group.
The last-minute coaching changes further complicate a difficult task. Kambosos won titles from three sanctioning bodies by upsetting Teófimo López last November, overwhelming Lopez with a late surge. He achieved his highest output (88 punches) and most connections (26 punches) in the final round of that title bout.
Kambosos, 28, shares Davis’s skepticism for Haney’s W.B.C. title.
“This guy acts like a gangster. He ain’t a gangster,” Kambosos said at a pre-fight news conference. “He’s as fake as that belt.”