Devin Haney is an undisputed lightweight champion and rising star that splits opinion for most. His dazzling boxing skills are clear to anyone, but people seem to criticize the fact he does not have enough power to dominate for the years to come.
In this boxing style analysis article, I will take a closer look at the incredible skills ‘The Dream’ Haney possesses. While also looking at areas of improvement required for him to grow further as a fighter and become one of the faces of boxing.
You can watch my video version or continue reading below:
Before turning pro, Haney’s amateur career was pretty impressive overall! Winning 7 national tournaments and finishing with a record of 138-8. Out of those eight losses, two are from his now rival and potential future opponent Ryan Garcia. Where the two have fought four times, both having won twice.
Instead of pursuing the Olympic dream, Haney and his father decided to turn pro at the very young age of 17. The American would have to fight in Mexico for his first four professional fights due to minimum age Regulations in the US.
From here a young Haney would start to make his rise up the ranks, facing very unknown opponents. Working on developing his skill further from his amateur days.
Road to undisputed lightweight champion
In April 2019, Haney signed a co-promotional deal between his own company, Devin Haney Promotions, and British promoter Eddie Hearn’s Matchroom Boxing to fight exclusively on DAZN.
From here it has all been stepping up fights for Haney.
In the same year, he signed with Matchroom, Haney became the youngest (i.e. latest-born) world champion in boxing when he was elevated as the WBC lightweight champion after previous WBC lightweight champion Vasiliy Lomachenko was promoted to “Franchise Champion” by the WBC.
Despite this, Haney has started to face harder and former world champions including Gamboa, Linares, and Diaz all by the age of 23. Before finally getting the opportunity to fight Geroge Kambosos Jr to settle the debate and become the undisputed champion at lightweight putting on a complete boxing clinic against Aussie in his home country.
He still has a long way to go in his boxing career, but it will be interesting to see if his ambitions to be the face of boxing are a far-fetched dream or if he really can dominate.
Devin Haney’s Boxing Style
When you watch Devin Haney it is obvious he is a calculated out-boxer but with slick counter-punching skills. He does have the ability to trade in the pocket, but you can tell he feels most comfortable by using his jab to punch and move and then waiting for his opportunity to counter-punch or set up an attack combination.
The most obvious comparison is Floyd Mayweather’s approach of focusing on hitting and not getting hit! He has used a very similar stance with his lower hand to help him utilize defensive movements and up jab. He even trained and received this advice from Floyd himself. Watch my video below on how Haney took on this advice in his undisputed fight vs Kambosos.
Another counterpuncher I see elements of is Salvador Sanchez, in terms of maintaining his distance on the outside of his opponent. While I’ve noticed him using a similar move of Sanchez’s favorite overhand right.
Haney is a fighter that is always moving, never staying too long in front of his opponent which makes him a very difficult opponent to beat.
Another aspect is his quick hands, and being in his early 20s, he certainly still has a good few years of this utilizing this advantage.
The first point I want to make is the technique in how Haney throws his jab. Usually, it is a quick up jab from a lower guard Philly shell stance, which helps him to fire quick jabs from a lowered angle. This is a useful punch as an opponent with a higher guard may struggle to see it coming. He will also change the level of his lead hand from time to time to get a different angle or occupy the guard.
One of the main benefits Haney has of course is his slightly longer reach of 71 inches, especially for being a lightweight, whereas most of his opponents to date have had a shorter reach.
You can immediately tell from the first round he takes advantage of this, by quickly whipping out his jab to create the initial range. This also helps him identify how close his opponents are to him as he quite often jabs the opponent’s guard to stop them from committing and to also set up his right.
It furthermore helps him to set up the body jab which is a favorite of his. He’ll often throw a double jab to the guard and then the body. Watch his jab in action below:
Jab intelligence (Boxing IQ)
The final part about his jab I’d like to point out is more about his boxing IQ to adapt to southpaw opponents. Using a lower lead guard or shoulder roll defense can be dangerous vs a Southpaw.
One of the things I’ve noticed is Haney will instead change to a higher guard and fence or parry with their jab so they can’t start to dominate him in this area.
This is something very subtle but, it shows he’s aware of the advantage his opponent can use over him. So he immediately changes his approach with his lead hand to stop them.
I also like that generally he always varies up the lead hand, using feints, and even a lead hook from time to time to keep his opponent unsure of what will come next.
Transitioning attack combos
This is probably one of Haney’s strongest outputs, and that is of course transitioning his attack combos. When I say transition I mean his ability to mix up the location of his attacking combos. Not just head to the body or vice versa, but also find different openings around the guard.
You will often see a lot of fighters on the mitts, doing ridiculous combinations on the pads, and when it comes to fighting they will freeze up and not throw anything like they were in training clips.
Haney on the other hand is one best up-and-coming combination punchers in my opinion. When he is in the pocket he has the ability to pull off these quick combinations. But his defensive elusiveness helps him have the confidence to pull these shots off.
In terms of counter-punching, one of his main tools to use is his counter right hand. It also helps Haney’s right-hand positioning is always locked and loaded for the counter.
Haney will also look to set this up in and few ways including timing the opponent’s jab to slip before countering with a right hand or even mixing up by throwing an angled uppercut. (See below)
Or will also simply take a half step back before countering back it.
Finally, the most common one you will see him do often is that shoulder roll counter. Where he rolls the right hand or jabs before returning fire with his own right hand.
Defense and Footwork
One of the primary reasons why Haney is so successful as an out boxer is his defensive skill set. He’s able to shoulder roll, use waist movement, roll hooks, and slip punches. Very similar to the defensive skills Floyd Mayweather used during his illustrious career.
But the primary method for me is subtle footwork when on the back foot. He’s very capable of using his jab with linear foot movement when taking a small half-step back. It makes him difficult to get to as he is always using his lead hand or feint to create caution. In a way, he reminds me of Andre Ward in that respect.
When he is in the pocket Haney is very good while using the shell stance, but it is more his ability to use waist movement to dodge punches. While always looking to counter or move when he does these defensive moves.
Areas for improvement.
As much being an out-boxer and using your boxing skills to win fights can work. I believe Haney needs to do more to handle himself better in the pocket.
We have seen Haney have much success when actually pushing the fights at times, especially at one point against a top opponent vs Linares where he was able to push him back. This made me really think he could handle being more aggressive.
Instead of pushing this approach, Haney resorted back to his out fighter style, allowing a tired and hurt Linares to get his breath back and come back into the fight. I’m in no way saying Haney should turn into some pressure fighter, but I do think his inside fighting needs to be improved. As even someone like Floyd knew he would need to fight in the pocket or inside at times.
Better defense on the inside is definitely required and the fight with Linares showed Haney can be hurt as seen a couple of times when at close range.
So far Devin has gotten away with some good clinching to stop the opponent from continuing their attacks.
He also made some good necessary improvements in his first fight vs Kambosoos. But as the opposition steps up or if he moves up in weight, he will need to improve!
Overall I really like Haney as a boxer and I do believe he can continue to improve in specific areas over the years. There is obviously a question about his power, but if you participate in boxing you will know that having respectable power can be enough to take you a long way (E.g. Mayweather). But it requires everything else to be spot on!
My biggest concern for him is that when he faces bigger tougher opponents with power and a similar skill set. Will his out boxer and counter-punching skills really be enough to win? Time will tell!
Check out my other boxer style analysis features here or why not look at my other analysis on his fellow upcoming stars and potential opponent for Haney below: