Prograis-Haney fight week diary: Day Four

Another public occasion, another love-in for the Haneys.

A big cheer was generated by the 17,000-crowd present at San Francisco’s Chase Center to witness Devin Haney dethrone Regis Prograis as WBC super lightweight champion, which – after he was booed throughout by those in Las Vegas in May when he excelled in outpointing Vasyl Lomachenko but partly on account of those boos was considered a controversial winner – made it natural that they would relish the occasion.

His new promoters and broadcasters Matchroom and DAZN – who were already working with Prograis by the time of Haney-Lomachenko – also demonstrated which of the two fighters they most valued via their marketing material depicting “Haney v Prograis”, and not the reverse, regardless of Prograis’ status as the defending champion.

On the occasion of his first fight at 140lbs, Haney was noticeably bigger than Prograis – a fighter regardless long established at the weight. By its conclusion he was so convincing a winner that his father, trainer and manager Bill was joined by the normally classless Mauricio Sulaiman of the WBC in consoling Prograis’ son Ray.

At their post-fight press conference, where Bill Haney had orchestrated the latest round of cheerleading and dismissed even Terence Crawford’s victory over Errol Spence to promote his son’s claims as “fighter of the year”, he also spoke of other fighters “tarnishing the sport by saying ‘Belts don’t matter’”. Truly, belts rarely do. But more significantly ProBox TV once overheard Bill Haney venting about a Las Vegas-based publication’s pound-for-pound rankings excluding his talented son, suggesting they, too – and rightly – see greater value in reputation, which a deposed champion still respected for his achievements and toughness like Prograis will hopefully share above all else

That much was eventually said about Haney moving to welterweight and fighting in Saudi Arabia was likely scripted by Haney Sr, so aware of the importance of what increasingly has become known as “optics” that he wore a WBO-branded jacket to attend the WBO super lightweight title fight between Josh Taylor and Teofimo Lopez in New York in June. 

Unquestionably scripted by Bill Haney was the question from his endearingly innocent nine-year-old daughter at the same post-fight press conference, where she asked her half-brother – the new champion – whether he had just been involved in a “sparring” session or a fight. Also present at that same press conference was her grandmother Renee, whose struggles with cancer jeopardised her hopes of attending but evidently didn't hold her back.