By: Hans Themistode
The clips have become legendary. A jam-packed boxing gym crowded around one singular sparring session. They hoot, holler and bang on the ring apron as two fighters battle it out for what seems like forever.
It’s the dog house in the Mayweather boxing gym. Under normal sparring sessions rules, the two boxers are timed, receive water breaks and instructions from their coaching staff. Those rules however, are thrown completely out of the window in Mayweather’s home away from home.
No matter who enters the ring, one thing is clear, Mayweather is the king of the ring. Nevertheless, his aforementioned crown was ripped away from him the moment he sparred with WBC lightweight belt holder Devin Haney.
“He was in there with Floyd,” said William Haney, father of Devin Haney, as he described a supposed sparring match between the two on Million Dollaz Worth of Game podcast hosted by rapper Gillie Da King. “Nobody wanna talk about it but it was right before the Conor McGregor fight, he was like 17 or 18 and Floyd couldn’t touch him. Listen, Floyd didn’t touch him and Devin touched Floyd up.”
For Mayweather, he’s not only become known for the zero plastered on the loss column of his 50 fight career, but he’s also known for handing his opponents in sparring sessions a one-sided beating. Due to the secrecy always affiliated with sparring, fighters often refrain from speaking upon it. Phrases such as “it was good work,” or “he helped me get better,” permeate throughout boxing circles.
With that being said, there are moments where sparring sessions are glorified and discussed openly. In early 2013, current unified welterweight champion in Errol Spence Jr. was given the opportunity to face Mayweather.
At the time, Spence Jr. was nothing more than a prospect with a 4-0 record with a ton of potential. Rumors of the two going tit for tat during their session have been widely told. From what has been reported on numerous occasions, Spence Jr. gained Mayweather’s respect with how well he performed.
At times, Spence Jr. supposedly got the better of the former pound for pound star, however, Mayweather of course, left a lasting impression of his own. In the case of his sparring encounter with Haney however, William mentions that it was completely one-sided.
In most cases, sparring is nothing more than a way for both fighters to get better. Nothing more, nothing less. Yet according to William, his son’s time in the ring with Mayweather wasn’t simply about them working on their craft. No, for the Haney’s it was a passing of the torch.
“When Errol Spence got out on Floyd, Floyd called him back and Floyd got back out on him. Now, whether it be due to age or whatever, that was a defining moment in both Devin and Floyd to understand that there was a real changing and passing of the guard. On that particular night, in the dog house, it was like Devin had graduated.”
For Devin Haney, he won’t dispute anything that his father spewed. Instead, he merely was appreciative of the time spent in the ring with the newly elected hall of famer.
“For me personally, I just thank Floyd for even giving me the opportunity to say that I’ve been in the ring with him,” explained Devin Haney. “Even though it was at the end of his career, just for me to be able to say I sparred Floyd. He didn’t have to do that. I was a young kid and he was somebody that I always looked up to and someone that I always watched.”
The experience that Devin received from Mayweather is something that William cherishes as well. Nonetheless, the long time trainer watched the career of Mayweather unfold for years and at no point has he allowed anyone to receive the upper hand on him. In the case of his sparring session with Haney though, William believes that Mayweather could do nothing but sit back and accept the punishment that his son dished out to him on that faithful day.
“I know he would’ve whipped your ass if he could. Floyd is no punk and no sucker so he’s not letting nobody do what I saw you do to him.”