Bill Haney admitted it was not easy to see his son off for what will be the most important fight of the lightweight champion’s young career.
In an interview with Mark Kriegel during ESPN’s coverage of Saturday’s Top Rank card featuring a middleweight clash between Janibek Alimkhanuly and Danny Dignum, the elder Haney expounded on the recent news that he was unable to accompany his son Devin Haney, the WBC 135-pound beltholder, to Australia for his coveted June 4 undisputed lightweight matchup with WBA, WBO, and IBF champion George Kambosos.
The reason has to do with a decades-old criminal conviction that Bill Haney incurred in the early 1990s and for which he did time. Australian visa laws make it difficult for anyone who has served 12 months or more in prison to enter the country.
Despite this unexpected turn of events, the elder Haney believes his absence will only bolster his son, while also conceding that it was “hard” to not be able to be with him.
“It’s two things that happened,” Bill Haney said in the ESPN interview. “Devin gets better when he faces adversity. This was a 1992 conviction that was well before he was born, but I think that this is now going to propel Devin to bring out the best in Devin. It was hard to let him go though.”
Bill Haney tried to describe the feeling of being separated from his son, comparing it to something between college and war.
“Well, I mean I would say it’s like sending away your kid, going away to college,” Haney elaborated. “But that wouldn’t be true. It’s a little bit more than that. But when it comes to sending away your kid to war it’s not quite as extensive as that [either].
“It’s a whirlwind of emotions that we’ve been going through as a father and son and fighter but we plan to overcome this adversity like we have every time before.”
Bill Haney added, “Devin said he assured me that he was going to go and going to bring back the belts and that it wasn’t going to be any problem.”
Haney won’t be completely alone come fight night. The 23-year-old will have Yoel Judah, a mentor to Bill, in his corner. Yoel is the father of former champion Zab Judah.
“It’s always been a great relationship,” Bill Haney said. “Zab is Devin’s grandfather. Their relationship was blessed in front of God. Yoel has been like a grandfather. He’s been like a father figure to me both in this boxing game and the way that we approach life and being 100% behind our sons. I knew Yoel was going to be the perfect fight to go to war. Yoel is not going to shy away from the moment. that moment is not going to intimidate him.”
Still, Bill Haney remained “optimistic” that he would be able to obtain an Australian visa before the fight. If not, the elder believes he might be able to converse with his son virtually during the fight, perhaps through an iPad.
“I’m optimistic about maybe even me eventually going out there,” Bill Haney said. “It’s still up in the air. I haven’t been totally denied. In the event [that I cannot], there have been suggestions on what way I can talk to him in the corner.
“He’ll be ready. That’s the main thing – is the fighter being ready.”