What matchmaker Roberto Diaz learned from facing Haney twice

Devin Haney has earned his way onto the pound-for-pound list by consistently taking hard fights that interest the fans, and may well be the future of the sport. 

Former Golden Boy Promotions matchmaker Roberto Diaz went against Haney twice as he brought in Jorge Linares and Joseph Diaz Jr., to defeat him. Both, though, were unsuccessful.

Now, as Haney vs. Regis Progais grows closer Saturday in San Francisco, Diaz reflected on the memories of those previous fights and offered some lessons he learned from Haney. 

"I faced Devin and his team twice, with JoJo Diaz and Jorge Linares," Diaz told ProBox TV. "My first excuse with Jorge was inactivity and age. Then I go in with JoJo Diaz, who had been active, he was younger,  and the same thing happens, and what is that? The [punch] output gets lower. So, Devin Haney has a way of controlling your output, the opponents output. He controls the distance well."

Diaz continued: "He didn’t control some much with [Vasyl Lomachenko], because Loma had so much experience, but with the others he controlled the output. He controlled the distance. He slowed the pace down, and when you can do that — you are in control.

"Eric Morales did that to the great Manny Pacquiao [in their] first fight. [Morales] controlled the pace, the distance, the times, the changes, that is why he was in control and able to win the fight, and that is what Devin does very well."

As for why Diaz thought Linares would win the 2021 bout, Diaz recalled his thought process. "To get experience, you have to go through fire. You have to get dropped, you have to get hurt in order to survive that.

"Once you do, you have gained that experience, and Devin hadn’t fought anybody [before Linares]. Devin didn’t have the experience, and I thought Jorge is going to be too experienced, too much finesse. Haney is fast, Jorge is faster. I thought I had the edge there."

He added: "Okay, then JoJo Diaz … JoJo is going to be rough, rugged and take Devin where he hasn’t been. Same thing, he controlled the distance, he controlled the space, he controlled the tempo, speed, and I was like, ‘Wow,’ you know what after the fight I remember going up to Devin and Bill [Haney] and saying, ‘Congrats, man'."

One thing Diaz remembers vividly was the mental warfare played by the Haneys as well. Diaz recalls that it wasn’t just what Haney did in the ring, but it was how composed he was all fight which impressed him after his two encounters with the prizefighter. 

"You could see [early on with Haney] a lot of experience from him and his team. What I mean is not just getting in the ring, but playing the mental games, trying to throw you off, trying to piss you off. He had somebody for everything.

"With Jorge, his demeanor has always been real calm and relaxed, and my job also with any fighter is try not [to let] it get to you, because if it gets to you — it works. So, keep as calm as possible, focus and sometimes it is nerves.

"I have seen it with a young fighter who come up and fight fighters like a Linares. In the sense, [Viacheslav] Senchenko, who was a world champion and fought Paulie Malignaggi, they get into [an awe of the superstar fighter], and that is almost a sense of ‘ought oh, we got him where we want him, because they are in awe that they are fighting a legend in some way shape or form."

The Haney and Prograis fight airs on DAZN pay-per-view from the Chase Center in San Francisco.