By Johnny Walker

“Legitimizing every criticism ever made against him, the man known in the UK media as “Fraudley” and “A-Farce” took the money and ran, exiting the arena in a big hurry after doing a very good impression of a statue for three rounds.”

I wrote those words after watching Saturday’s WBA heavyweight title fight from Manchester, UK, between David Haye and Audley Harrison, not yet knowing of the furor that would erupt soon after the Haye won by stoppage in the third round.

Today, the UK media is buzzing with stories of possible unethical behavior by Haye and Harrison: Haye, for possibly carrying Harrison until the third round because of gambling wagers he, friends and family members had placed, and Harrison for his deer-in-the-headlights, shameful non-effort after weeks of confident pre-fight trash talking.

According to The Sun newspaper,  Haye told a reporter after the fight, “I had a lot of money on the third round as did my friends and family – so I didn’t want to let them down by doing it too early.”

This statement possibly answers the question of why Haye fought almost as negatively as the frozen, near-comatose Harrison did over the first two rounds, when referee Luis Pabon actually had to admonish the participants to stop staring at each other and feinting and to start trading punches.

Yet in the third round, with Harrison still doing almost nothing, Haye turned on the heat momentarily and easily finished off “A-Farce” in a way that suggested he could have done this at any time, including the first minute of the fight. 

Given all of Harrison’s confident talk about “fulfilling his destiny” leading up to the fight, his total lack of effort seemed mysterious.  Now, in light of Haye’s gambling admission, more suspicions are being raised, with some fans wondering if an arrangement of some kind between the two former (and future?) friends had been reached before the fight even began.  Some are calling for an investigation into the whole affair, which, if not illegal, certainly has the appearance of being unethical.

Haye is now attempting to walk back his original statement by claiming that he didn’t personally put any money on the fight, but the damage has been done.  Although the British Boxing Board of Control has decided not to punish Haye, the fighter’s reputation has been sullied by this debacle, perhaps in a karmic payback for the Hayemaker’s decision to fight such an unworthy opponent in the first place. 

While Haye chose once again to deride what he sees as the low-quality opposition of the legitimate heavyweight champions after Saturday’s fight, it is not an outlandish proposition to say that either Samuel Peter or Shannon Briggs, the two most recent opponents of heavyweight kings Wladimir and Vitali Klitschko, respectively, would have knocked out Harrison long before Haye got around to it on Saturday.

As for Audley Harrison, there seems little doubt that he is finished: who would ever pay to see him fight again after such a dismal showing in the biggest match of his life?  However, the “take the money and run” approach for the hapless Harrison may have hit a snag: as outraged UK boxing fans cry “rip-off,” the British Boxing Board of Control is considering withholding Harrison’s purse, said to be in excess of 1 million British pounds — a lot of money for someone who landed one clean punch over 7 minutes and 53 seconds of (non) action before being stopped. 

Surely all of this turmoil is a far cry from the glories that David Haye himself along with many of his supporters envisioned two years ago, when the Hayemaker entered the heavyweight ranks for good.  Knocking out a man who refuses to fight is not likely to impress anyone outside of Haye’s immediate circle; add to that the appearance of unethical behavior linked to gambling, and Haye’s career trajectory looks to be rapidly headed south.

Haye is still insisting that the Klitschko brothers need him more than he needs them, but after the Harrison farce, and with Haye still tiresomely insisting that he will retire in a year’s time, that no longer seems to be the case (if it ever was).

In fact, a win over one or both Klitschkos may be the only thing that can save David Haye’s heavyweight career from being remembered more for what he didn’t do, than for what he actually accomplished

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