Senior Boxing Journalist @JamesDielhenn
Joe Laws is the boozy Geordie boxer who spars when hungover
"In his corner he had Mayweather's dad and a big team. In my corner I had my mate wearing last night's clothes," Joe Laws tells James Dielhenn
Last Updated: 15/03/20 8:46am
For most of us waking up with a banging headache after a late night, getting punched (or even going to the gym) is awful enough of an idea to warrant another hour in bed.
But for Joe Laws, a sparring session the morning after a night out is the perfect hangover cure.
The Geordie with the infectious giggle knows his stories are hilarious - he always takes a gum-shield in his suitcase when he goes on holiday, finds the "roughest gym" and pays the local boxers a visit despite being worse for wear.
One of these drunken adventures has become a viral storm - Laws insists that, after too many beers to count, he went to Floyd Mayweather's gym in Las Vegas to beat up Devin Haney, America's boxing prodigy who now holds a world championship.
The full story of Laws' hungover scrap sounds like something from The Inbetweeners movie but, according to the Newcastle welterweight, it really happened.
"Me and Jordan Reynolds turned up on the first day with no boots or gloves, just gum-shields. We said: 'We've come to spar'.
"We sparred two kids. Jordan dropped his kid. They said: 'Come back the next day'.
"So we came back, different opponents. We handled them comfortably. They said: 'Come back the next day'.
"But we were flying back in two days and a big new nightclub was opening in Caesar's Palace.
"I woke up with crusty eyes and a dry mouth!
"I said to Jordan: 'There's no way I'm sparring today'.
"Hungover, I had two coffees, no breakfast, and walked to the gym. There were cameras all over. Normally you spar in a little ring but, this time, we were asked to spar in a big ring.
"They said: 'You're sparring Devin Haney'.
‘The Benwell Bomber’ on his vociferous support in the North East
“I put the work in to drop the tickets off and meet people. I do it myself. When I’m free at the weekend I put in a 10-hour shift, dropping off tickets, driving around. I keep them in a big shoe box – I drive around collecting money, saying thank you. Benwell is a very rough area so I’m lucky to have so much support. When people buy a ticket it’s £40, the day off work, the drinking money. Money is hard to come by in Benwell so to get people to spend their hard-earned money on me? I’m blessed.
This was three years ago before Laws, now aged 25, had fought professionally. Haney, now 21, was unbeaten in 15 pro fights. They were lightyears apart in terms of experience. Laws had been thrown to the wolves by those inside the Mayweather Gym.
"So we sparred and were supposed to do six rounds but, after four, he got out. The first two rounds he couldn't do anything to me. In the third round he caught me with a big left hook. In the fourth round I absolutely panned him.
"Floyd Mayweather's dad pulled him out! It was mad - in his corner he had Mayweather's dad and a big team. In my corner I had my mate wearing last night's clothes.
"I spoke to Devin Haney afterwards but he was arrogant. Later I sent him a message on Instagram saying: 'Thanks for the sparring champ, I appreciate it'.
"He didn't comment back. He read it and didn't reply, the cheeky b******! Then he uploaded clips of our sparring - but only clips of him hitting me!"
This story has caught fire because, frankly, it is hilarious to imagine a gobby Geordie neck too many pints then beat up the clean-living, naturally-gifted Haney who is a protégé of Mayweather's.
Haney, as you'd expect, disputes this story and tweeted that Laws "must be drunk". He has since gone onto become the WBC lightweight champion and is in a different world to the up-and-coming Laws, who extended his unbeaten record to nine victories last month.
He laughs at every mention of Haney's name, saying: "I've got the beating of Haney. I don't know why. He hasn't got the power to earn my respect in the ring. He's good if you let him look good by giving him distance or worrying about what he's doing.
"For a 21-year-old he's talented, and has done amazingly. But I would beat him. I'm not saying I would beat the European champion or him or him or him. But I would beat Devin Haney."
It transpires Laws is an absolute nightmare to go on holiday with. When his mates are waking up, well into the afternoon, he is agitating to get the gloves on.
"I do it everywhere I go," he beamed. "I was on holiday in Mexico with my mates and my dad.
"I trained at a gym and said: 'Can I spar?' They told me to come back the next day.
"That day I was also hungover but I still went for sparring after two shots of tequila and a cigar. I was putting it all on Snapchat.
"The gym was derelict, smelly, dirty. They gave me old gloves and a headguard. The gloves were soggy. Mint.
"I went on holiday to Thailand and ended up having a Thai fight. I said no kicking. That kicking lark is no good to me. I can't block punches never mind kicks or knees!"
What do his mates think?
"They think I'm mental".
Joe Laws is exciting and fun and unpredictable. Maybe his method isn't crazy, after all.