30-Year-Old Conviction Stops Devin’s Haney’s Dad From Being In His Son’s Corner During Fight For Undisputed In Australia

LAS VEGAS, NV - DECEMBER 4: Devin Haney and his team celebrates his victory over Joseph "Jojo" Diaz Jr via unanimous decision in their WBC lightweight title fight at the MGM Grand Garden Arena on December 4, 2021 in Las Vegas, NV. (Photo by Louis Grasse/PxImages/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Devin “The Dream” Haney is going into enemy territory next week to try to become undisputed when he faces unified lightweight champion George Kambosos Jr., in his native Melbourne, Australia.

However, one key person will be missing from Devin’s corner, his father-trainer-manager hybrid, Bill Haney, who was denied a visa due to an American criminal conviction in the 1990s.

Blocking Bill Haney

“To dispel a lot of the rumors that’s going on, Devin did not miss the press conference in Australia due to anything on his account,” said Haney to the “Trill Boxing Talk” podcast. “We missed the press conference because, obviously, i’m here at my home in Vegas, and I wasn’t able to board the flight going over. They said that my visa hasn’t been approved, it hasn’t been denied but at this point in time I wasn’t allowed to go through customs.

“That was the thing that kind of puzzles me most about it. I’ve always been upfront about it, in terms of where I come from and my background, in terms of being in Oakland and making mistakes that I don’t want Devin to make.

“I made some mistakes and did things at 22- 23-years-old, which Devin is now, that hopefully never he will have to ever make the mistake. I made mistakes that as a father, that I’m able to give Devin graphic and gory details to let him know that those aren’t the paths that he wants to go down. You know, I have a felony on my record that goes back to 1992, a federal drug conviction that I served time on.”

Boxing’s Super Team

The father-son tandem have changed the boxing business from the outset. Devin Haney became the youngest boxing promoter in the United States at the age of 19 years old. He has promoted all his fights on networks like Showtime and streaming services like DAZN, controlling his own destiny.

With his father leading the charge, the two have forged a path that includes Haney becoming the youngest world champion at 21 years old when he was elevated to WBC lightweight champion in 2019. However, the rise of Devin and Bill Haney has always been rooted in strong Black fatherhood.

When Preparation Is Key

“I prepared Devin for this moment. We weren’t going to let anything get in the way of this moment, of Devin showing up and showing out and doing what he does best. As a father, and that’s what I consider my job, first and foremost, is preparing him for the day that he will no longer have me. I don’t have my dad; I lost my dad around the same age as Devin.

“I think I was around 21 or 22, and it was devastating for me to lose him physically, to lose him and not be able to talk to him anymore or whatever, but he raised a solid one. I was able to always listen to things that play back in my mind, things that he would say to do, and in certain aspects, and it helps me to this day.

“As far as the Australian government, any conviction that you have where you served a year or more is what stops you from getting in the country. I’ve only been to prison one time and served prison time of over a year in 1992.”

It Takes A Village

Haney recently signed a deal with Bob Arum of Top Rank to make the Kambosos fight for an ESPN audience that Top Rank has an exclusive deal with. The Hall of Fame promoter recently said that his company is working on attaining Bill Haney’s visa, and hope might not be lost for his to be ringside for the planned June 5 fight.

However, Bill Haney pivoted and sent someone he knew would look after his son like his own.

“That was a tough decision,” Bill Haney continued. “We’ve been open and honest about the fraternity of coaches and village of mentors and stuff that we’ve been able to accumulate over the years, so it was actually a tough decision to pick one guy.”

“Ultimately, I didn’t hesitate for the first person that came to my mind, which was Yoel Judah, who is Zab Judah’s Dad, and Devin’s godfather is Zab and, for all intents and purposes, Yoel is a godbrother of mine,” Haney revealed. “A father figure. I call him Abba, and he’s always been a tremendous help over the phone or in person.”

One Question. A Simple Answer.

According to multiple Australian travel visa informational websites, to be granted a tourist visa to travel to Australia, you must be deemed to be of “good character.”

The Australian authorities will take your criminal record into account when determining whether you are of good character and will have particular concerns if you have a substantial criminal record.

Bill Haney’s love for his son and stewardship over the most pivotal moment in their journey now hangs on the Australian government deciding if he has developed a good character over the past 30 years.

A simple perusal of his son’s accomplishments should answer that question quickly.

Rhett Butler is a Boxing Writer Association of America Journalist, Play-By-Play Commentator, Combat Sports Insider, and Former Mixed Martial Arts and Boxing Promoter. The New York City native honed his skills at various news outlets including but not limited to: TIME Magazine, Money Magazine, CNN's Wolf Blitzer Reports, and more. Rhett hosts the PRITTY Left Hook podcast, a polarizing combat sports insider's take featuring the world's biggest names.