In an echo of the racial slur made by Bernard Hopkins before his loss to Joe Calzaghe in 2008, WBC lightweight champion Devin Haney has said he will never lose to the likes of rival Vasyl Lomachenko or any other white opponent.
Rising star Haney is undefeated in his 24-fight career and became one of the youngest title holders in history when he became WBC lightweight champion last year, but his surprising comments are unlikely to win him many new fans after what may have been an attempt to provoke Ukrainian Lomachenko to fight him.
Haney has spoken of his belief that more established fighters are using his age – he turned 21 in November – as an excuse to avoid facing him.
Responding to a fan who asked him to “end the hype of Loma”, Haney immediately declared to 78SportsTV: “I tell you this – I will never lose to a white boy in my life. I don’t care what nobody got to say.”
Sitting in a car laughing, he added: “Can’t no white boy beat me any day of the week. If I fight a white boy ten times, I’m going to beat him ten times.”
His outburst recalls the insistence of fellow American Bernard Hopkins, who repeatedly brayed to opponent Joe Calzaghe in a press conference 12 years ago: “I would never let a white boy beat me.”
As a crowd of reporters laughed behind him, Hopkins reiterated: “Anyone can print that. I would never lose to a white person.”
Calzaghe proceeded to capture the title on points, claiming that he had been filled with confidence by Hopkins’ remarks, which his more experienced foe later said had been intended to make him appear as the villain bearing a grudge.
Haney celebrated what he described as a “multi-million dollar” deal to join Matchroom Boxing USA with a seventh round knockout win over Antonio Moran in May, going on to win his final two fights of the year before a five-month break that clearly rankles the man described by Matchroom boss Eddie Hearn as “a superstar”.
“I’m the future of the sport,” promised Haney. “I’m going to continue to set the boxing world on fire.”
A fan of Floyd Mayweather’s style inside and outside the ring, Haney also has a deal with US broadcasting giants DAZN. “All these fighters are using my age as an excuse to not get into the ring with me,” he told them.
“But the truth is that I’m a world champion and, if you are fighting me, you probably will make more than you have ever made in your career. Everything is there for a big fight, but these guys don’t want to fight.
“Of all the fighters, I want Lomachenko the most. He has more to offer at this point, being a champion, and I gain more because of who he is. He’s an exceptional fighter, but I also think I’m an exceptional fighter who has a style that will give him problems.”
Feared three-weight world champion Lomachenko is most likely to face Honduran-American Teofimo Lopez should he fight again this year. “A lot of writers are saying I’m not ready to face Lomachenko,” Haney told Bad Left Hook ahead of his win on the undercard of the novelty KSI vs Logan Paul fight in Los Angeles in his last outing.
“That’s ridiculous. All the guys he beat, I would beat also. Loma fought for a world title in his second professional fight.
“Who wouldn’t want to watch me and Loma fight? The answer is everyone would want to watch that fight and that’s a fact.
“I hate to say it, but it must be said: it’s embarrassing for Lomachenko if he keeps ducking…in reality, there is no one that I can’t beat at 135 pounds.”
Fans reacted with disgust to Haney’s incendiary comments, calling on Hearn to reconsider his deal. “B-Hop needs to tell him to slow his roll because karma is a motherf*cker,” said one. “At least come up with your own stupid sh*t to say,” added another.
Two-time Olympics gold medalist Lomachenko last fought when he beat Briton Luke Campbell via decision in London in August.