Archives for posts with tag: David Haye

By Johnny Walker

In the “say it ain’t so” boxing sweepstakes, Adam Booth, the manager/trainer of WBA heavyweight champion David Haye, is publicly musing about a rematch between his charge and former cruiserweight champ turned heavyweight contender Jean-Marc Mormeck.

In an interview with ffboxe.com, Booth seems surprised at the discovery of something that most fans of heavyweight boxing have known for some time: that Haye’s mandatory challenger for the WBA crown, Ruslan Chagaev, is infected with the hepatitis B antigen (he is not ill, but is a carrier of the virus).

“Logically, David would have faced [Ruslan] Chagaev but the news about his health is not very good,” Booth says in the interview.

“He reportedly suffers from hepatitis B, which makes their confrontation impossible. I then looked at the classification of the WBA … and I saw that Jean-Marc Mormeck is now ranked in the Top 10 at seven or eight, I think, and that makes a Mormeck-Haye fight possible,” Booth explains.

There are so many things wrong with this idea (as there was with the choice of Haye’s previous opponent, Audley Harrison), that to enumerate them all here would take up too much space. 

But let’s hit the most obvious problems:

First, Haye has already defeated Mormeck when they fought for the WBC cruiserweight title in 2007.  Mormeck did knock Haye down in round four, but is that knockdown really enough to warrant a rematch at heavyweight?

Second, Haye insists he is retiring in October of this year.  That leaves him with probably enough time for two fights, maximum.  Beating a man he’s already defeated at at lighter weight is surely going to do nothing for his legacy at heavyweight. 

But it appears that the question of legacy is no longer a concern for Haye and Booth, if indeed it ever was.

Most of us know by now the sad inability of Booth and Haye to negotiate a deal with either Wladimir or Vitali Klitschko, who currently hold all of the major belts aside from Haye’s WBA title.

But there are alternatives.  If not Chagaev (and it should be noted that Wladimir Klitschko fought Chagaev in 2009 without complaint, merely taking a vaccination before the fight as protection), how about Denis Boytsov, Alexander Povetkin, Samuel Peter, Robert Helenius, Cris Arreola, Tomasz Adamek: these are some fighters who could give Haye a decent (and hopefully entertaining) fight.

And all of them are better than Mormeck, who this writer had losing his last fight to Timur Ibragimov in Paris, only to be saved by a hometown decision.

Booth, however, not only dismisses the notion of a fight with Wladimir, but also with Vitali (too old and likely to lose to Odlanier Solis, according to Booth — a notion shared by almost no one outside of Solis’s inner circle), and also implies that there is public demand for a Haye-Mormeck rematch.

“In England there is no problem,” Booth says. “We’ve sold 20,000 tickets in two to three weeks for each bout of David’s bouts. Haye-Mormeck in England is possible.” 

“But if France wants to see this fight in Paris, David is quite ready to return. It will demonstrate that his first success against Jean-Marc is not a coincidence….”

But who was really insisting it was a coincidence in the first place, Adam?

Tomasz Adamek makes hay(e) while the sun shines

By Johnny Walker

It is being widely reported that top heavyweight challenger Tomasz Adamek of Poland has signed to face either Wladimir or Vitali Klitschko this September in Poland.

“I signed for the most important fight of my life and one of the most important in the history of Polish boxing,” Adamek told ringpolska.pl.

In contrast to the on-again, off-again negotiations between the champion Klitschkos and the UK’s David Haye over the past couple of years, this deal came together quickly.

“It took us less than three weeks to get this done,” Main Events CEO Kathy Duva, who represents Adamek, told ESPN.com.

“Everybody had the same objective — to make the biggest, best event we can and everybody make the most money we can. We’re very excited,” said Duva.

As for the supposed difficulty of negotiating with the Klitschkos’ promotional arm, K2, Duva said, in what seems a thinly-veiled reference to Adam Booth and David Haye, “I didn’t have any of the problems other people talk about … I didn’t have any problem with them at all. And I had a fighter who said, ‘This is what I want, please go out and get it.'”

Which Klitschko brother Adamek fights will depend on the results of their upcoming matches with Dereck Chisora (Wlad) and Odlanier Solis (Vitali).

If both brothers are victorious, K2 will decide who faces Adamek.  In the unlikely event that both lose, the Adamek fight would be off.

Adamek will take an interim April fight in Katowice, Poland as planned, but it won’t be against the still dangerous Samuel Peter, who had been in the running but who is no-one’s idea of a “tune-up” type opponent. 

As for US television coverage of Adamek-Klitschko, K2 rep Bernd Boente told ESPN.com that he prefers the bout to be on Showtime, due to the rocky relationship between the Klitschkos and HBO over the past couple of years.

 By Johnny Walker

It seems that 2010 is ending much like 2009 did as far as boxing’s heavyweight division is concerned: with escalating trash talk between the respective camps of the Klitschko Brothers and David Haye.

Haye versus Klitschko: Just a fantasy?

 After doing everything he could to avoid getting in the ring with one of the Ukrainian brothers for the last two years—this after demanding a showdown with Wladimir when he made the jump up from cruiserweight—WBA paper champion Haye is now doing his best to convince the world (with the help of his UK press cheerleaders like The Guardian’s obsequious Kevin Mitchell) that he is doing the The Ring magazine heavyweight champ a favor by accepting his 50-50 contract offer for a heavyweight showdown.

“Despite the fact we know we bring more UK television money to the table, David and I are happy to split the entire pot 50-50 and grant Wladimir the deal he has wanted since day one,” says Haye mouthpiece and trainer Adam Booth. “We have offered them 50-50 on everything and now see no reason why this tremendous fight can’t happen. The path is clear.”

So now we are to believe it is Haye, who holds one belt (the legitimacy of which is questionable) who is lowering his standards to offer Wladimir Klitschko—who holds the IBF, IBO and WBO belts as well as the The Ring magazine honor—the same 50-50 contract that Klitschko had already offered the Brit.

Sure, boys.

Haye, being his usual eloquent self, put it this way: “We agreed to 50-50 on everything, which they requested. We took away every possible excuse. There is no reason for this fight not to happen. I want to fight that big Russian prick next.”

Let’s hope a few months from now, Haye doesn’t tell us he was really talking about a rematch with Nicolay Valuev, who is very big—and actually Russian.

For their part, Vitali and Wladimir Klitschko recently issued a statement in the German newspaper Bild that promised a showdown with Haye in 2011.   

“We want this fight at all costs,” the statement read.  “[Haye] may choose which of us he wants to step into the ring to lose his world title.”

Now, Wladimir has gone further, claiming that a fight pitting either Klitschko brother against Haye is “an easy payday.”

“It doesn’t matter which one it is, both of us are far too big and strong for David Haye, who … is rated only in his own head – outside that nobody rates him,” said Wladimir.  “He will be nothing for us to beat. He will leave the arena embarrassed if he ever sets foot in the ring with us.”

“If” indeed.

Before anyone gets too excited, it should be remembered that we’ve heard all of this before. Haye has gone so far as to sign to fight Wladimir, only to pull out at the last moment with an “injury” that was never substantiated by any doctor’s report. 

And Haye has reiterated a number of times lately that he intends to retire next year before his 31st birthday whether he has fought a Klitschko or not.

So despite all of the talk and the promises, we are in reality no closer to the second biggest fight that can be made in boxing actually taking place. 

Talk, as they say, is cheap.

See you in 2011.

Tomas Adamek had too much firepower for Vinny Maddalone

By Johnny Walker

Top heavyweight contender Tomasz “Goral” Adamek (43-1) of Poland destroyed Vinny Maddalone (33-6) Thursday night, outclassing the game journeyman from Queens, New York via a fifth round TKO.

Adamek, since entering the heavyweight division after a dominant career at cruiserweight, has had his ups and downs.  After destroying his semi-retired countryman Andrew Golota, Adamek had a not entirely convincing win over Jason Estrada, an impressive majority decision victory over the much bigger Cris Arreola, and a hanging-on-for-dear-life cliffhanger win over the even bigger Michael Grant.

Those waiting for Adamek to look totally dominant at heavyweight finally got their wish in his bout against Maddalone.

Looking less bulky in the upper body than he did last time out against Grant, Adamek used his superior speed to pepper the game but awkward Maddalone from the first round onward.  He doubled and tripled up on the jab, worked Maddalone’s midsection, and then went head-hunting with crisp combinations.

You name it, Adamek was throwing it at Maddalone, including the kitchen sink.

If Adamek showed any weakness in this fight, it was in his vulnerability to the left hook, which the less than speedy Maddalone nevertheless managed to land with some regularity.

But all the work Adamek was putting in, especially to the body, had Maddalone running on empty by round five, when a right-left combination following a wild miss by Maddalone saw the Queens native deposited to the mat.

From then on, it was a mere matter of time, as Adamek was determined to close the show and get his first stoppage as a heavyweight, peppering Maddalone with combinations to the body and head. 

Finally, and correctly, Maddalone’s corner had seen enough, and signalled to referee Steve Smoger to call an end to the fight at 2:17 of round five.

With this win, Adamek figures to be in the running for a title fight next year with one of the Klitschko brothers, possibly at Madison Square Garden in New York, which would benefit from the proximity of Adamek’s Polish fanbase in New Jersey, as well as that of the many Russian and Ukrainian fans of the Klitschkos residing in Brooklyn.

Perhaps the most tantalizing–and potentially winnable–heavyweight championship matchup for Adamek would be against Britain’s David Haye, in a battle of of ex-cruiserweight champions.

A fight between Adamek and Roy Jones Jr. has also been discussed, and some members of Team Adamek are apparently all for it, but if that were to take place, it would be a travesty and a waste of Adamek’s time — and at age 34, he hasn’t got all that much time to waste in what remains of his boxing career.

Let’s hope that cooler heads prevail in the Adamek camp: Adamek is too valuable a commodity in the current heavyweight scene to be taking part in credibility-destroying fights of the kind Haye just had with Audley Harrison.

Jean Marc Mormeck narrowly defeated Timur Ibragimov of Uzbekistan by split decision in a back-and-forth WBA heavyweight boxing encounter tonight at the Halle Carpentier in Paris.

While not unwatchable, the fight was marred at times by too much holding, as both fighters tired going in to the later rounds.  Suffice it to say that neither of the recognized heavyweight champs Wladimir and Vitali Klitschko will be shaking in his boots after viewing this bout; nor will WBA paper champ David Haye.

Ibragimov, 35, the WBA’s #7 ranked challenger for Haye’s belt, started off well, however, using his size advantage (being 6’3″ tall compared to Mormeck’s 5’11”) to bully the smaller fighter and lean on him whenever the opportunity presented itself, and also fighting nicely behind the left jab, his overall style reminiscent of Wladimir Klitschko‘s usual modus operandi. 

The 38-year-old Mormeck, ranked #12 by the WBA, came out aggressive, bobbing and weaving in Joe Frazier-like fashion, but in rounds one and two Ibragimov kept him at bay with a snappy left jab and some nice combinations to the body.

The third round saw both men warming to the task, with Ibragimov landing a hard right cross to Mormeck’s head, and Mormeck, still moving well, finally getting inside the jab to land a hard left hook of his own.  This seemed to inspire Ibragimov, who answered with an aggressive round four, bulling Mormeck into the corners and landing some crisp combinations to the body.  Mormeck did connect with a hard overhand right near the end of the round, too infrequent an occurrence for him thus far.

Rounds five through seven saw Mormeck change the momentum of the fight.   The shorter man began landing solid left and right uppercuts to Ibragimov’s chin with regularity, as the Uzbek retreated to ropes.  Although Ibragimov had not been seriously hurt, the cumulative effect of the French fighter’s blows had him in disarray, and it seemed a stoppage win for Mormeck might be in sight.

The tide turned yet again in round eight, however.  With the Parisian crowd sensing that a stoppage was close, they began chanting “MOR-MECK, MOR-MECK,” and their fighter tried to respond.  Ibragimov, however, had other ideas, opening with a solid combination to the head and body and leaning heavily on the now tiring Frenchman.  Ibragimov’s strategy of working over Mormeck’s body finally began to pay off, with the latter man visibly wilting by the end of the round. 

The ninth was Mormeck’s last effective round.  Still looking gassed, he nevertheless rallied, with some Tyson-esque determination enabling him to again slip inside and stun Ibragimov with an uppercut.  

The pendulum swung back yet again to the Uzbek in the tenth: a hard right to Mormeck’s ribs saw the Frenchman visibly sag, and a hard right cross to his jaw had him reeling. 

With Ibragimov now coming on strong, French referee Jean-Louis Legland interestingly picked this time to stop the fight and deduct a point from him for hitting behind the head.  Undaunted, Ibragimov continued to press, ending the round with a hard right to Mormeck’s by-now bruised torso.

The last two rounds saw both fighters tiring, with Mormeck definitely showing his age as he appeared utterly exhausted in his corner before heading out for round twelve.  Amidst a lot of holding mostly initiated by Mormeck, Ibragimov continued his focused assault to the Frenchman’s body, finally moving upstairs to land a combo to the head as Mormeck waited for the final bell to sound.

This writer had it 115-113 Ibragimov, reduced to 114-113 with the point deduction.  Judge Juan Manuel Garcia Reyes saw it much the same way (113-115 ), but Erkki Meronen (116-112) and Steve Weisfeld (116-111) disagreed, giving Mormeck the split decision win as the crowd went wild and Ibragimov pondered his first loss in ten fights.

Mormeck wins the previously vacant WBA International Heavyweight title with this victory — but of course, that is not the title coveted by heavyweights with any degree of ambition.

Mormeck’s name has been tossed around as the next opponent for heavyweight champ Wladimir Klitschko after his upcoming bout with England’s Dereck Chisora, but based on this performance, one where he was often either eating the larger man’s left jab or getting pushed around by him, the 215-pound former cruiserweight champion would be in very tough against the Ukrainian star.   

Ibragimov, because of his larger frame and more defensive style, might actually fare a little better than Mormeck against Wladimir, but with this loss, that matchup now appears highly unlikely. 

Fans of the heavyweight division, then, can only hope this Saturday’s Alexander Dimitrenko – Albert Sosnowski matchup provides a bit more clarity as to who might ultimately provide a real challenge to the Klitschko brothers, as Mormeck – Ibragimov ultimately left things as muddled as ever.

Ruslan Chagaev (l), had all he could handle from Travis Walker

By Johnny Walker

Ruslan Chagaev of Uzbekistan, the mandatory contender for David Haye’s WBA heavyweight title, barely got by tough American journeyman Travis Walker Friday night in a fan-friendly, eight-round “tune-up” scrap in Hamburg, Germany.

Those who like to loudly bemoan the lack of back and forth action in today’s heavyweight division surely would have been silenced by the aggressive tactics of both Chagaev and Walker.  Chagaev, who has been talking up an upcoming 2011 contest with Britain’s controversial “Hayemaker,” had the most to lose coming in to this bout, and Walker did his best to take advantage of that.

Chagaev started well in rounds one and two, showing why he formerly held the belt that now resides around David Haye’s waist.  Showing fast hands and moving well, the southpaw Chagaev established a pattern of landing flush lead lefts to Walker’s face, and also backed up the American with some lightning fast combos.

Walker, as round two progressed, eventually started to get some rhythm going, and thudded a cracking uppercut into Chagaev’s sturdy chin in what would become a pattern of his own.

With Walker’s excitable and vociferous corner yelling for “right hands!” to the point of distraction in round three, it was Chagaev who landed a nifty uppercut of his own, followed by a flurry of lefts and rights.  Round four saw both fighters winging hard shots, most of which were blocked by gloves, with Chagaev again landing a thudding lead left near the end of the round.

The fifth round was one of the best in the fight: Walker came out aggressive, landing those “right hands” his corner had been begging for.  In what could be seen as an ominous sign for a future matchup with Haye, Chagaev proved vulnerable to repeated uppercuts, as Walker bullied the smaller man around the ring.  Yet another hard lead left from Chagaev only momentarily halted Walker’s progress, and both men flurried to end the round.

Rounds six and seven saw Chagaev, who looked a bit soft at 232, rapidly tiring from the fight’s hectic pace, while Walker got a second wind.  The superior upper body movement Chagaev displayed when handing giant Russian Nicolay Valuev his first loss (lifting the WBA title from him to boot) was now nowhere to be seen, and Walker took full advantage, muscling Chagaev into the corners and teeing off on him with hard shots.

The fight was very close (I had it dead even) heading into the last round, and Walker tried to keep up the pressure.  Chagaev, sensing that his title shot against Haye could be in jeopardy, started winging wild punches in the hope of taking Walker out.  Finally, both men were exhausted, having given the heavyweight division the kind of competitive fight it could use more of.

Chagaev, as the “hometown” favorite (he fights out of Germany), got the benefit of the doubt from the judges, who saw it 78-75, 77-75 and 77-76 in his favor (I scored it a draw).  Walker, however, gave a very good account of himself on this night.

The result now sets Chagaev up for a showdown with Haye . . . or does it? 

According to Dan Rafael of ESPN.com, “I don’t see Haye going to Germany for that fight. He has the title and is much bigger in the UK than Chagaev is in Germany.”

“However,” Rafael continued, “I would be surprised if Chagaev is licensed in the UK because of his positive hepatitis tests. The medicals are tougher in the UK than Germany. That would make this a big mess.  It may have to go to a purse bid and if Chagaev’s side wins, it would probably be put in Germany, but I’d be surprised if Chagaev’s side won a purse bid if there was one.  Haye can bid much more because of the greater revenue he supplies from UK television.”

Stay tuned.

(www.streetbeatboxing.com)

“Just you and me pal!” 

By Johnny Walker

WBC heavyweight champion Vitali Klitschko has once again thrown down the gauntlet to his trash talking nemesis, WBA heavyweight king David Haye.

As controversy continues to swirl around the Hayemaker in the aftermath of last Saturday’s farcical title fight between Haye and the hapless Audley “A-Force” Harrison, Klitschko has offered to fight Haye next spring in a 50-50 deal, anywhere in the world where the fight makes the most financial sense.

“I hear about the great venue of Madison Square Garden for this fight,” Klitschko offered. “But I’m ready to fight in Germany, the United States or Great Britain.” 

“Wherever the most money is on the table,” he continued, “let’s fight in this place.”

Conventional wisdom as to which Klitschko brother would be the best bet for David Haye in terms of winning the fight has changed in the last few years.  Initially, it was thought Wladimir, because of his supposedly soft chin, would be more vulnerable than his iron-chinned older brother.

Then, after Vitali looked a bit jaded in fights with Kevin Johnson and Albert Sosnowski (even though he barely dropped a round in either bout), the thinking was that maybe he was finally slowing down, while Wlad, after annihilating top American contender Eddie Chambers, and then doing the same to ex-champion Samuel Peter, was firmly in his prime.

That was before Vitali hospitalized ex-champion Shannon Briggs, again giving boxing’s big thinkers pause—maybe the elder Klitschko brother is not quite over the hill after all?

At any rate, Klitschko manager Bernd Boente today made it clear that while either Klitschko brother is willing to consider fighting Haye in England, they are not about to let the WBA champion call all the shots.

“If England is where we can make the most money, then we’ll go there”, Boente told BoxingScene.com.  “But the fight will happen where we can make the most money. If Haye is going to tell us that it can only happen in England, then we will never agree to start negotiations. A negotiation is where everyone comes to the table with open minds and together they make a deal. But if he is going to start telling us what to do, the fight won’t happen.”

The Klitschkos are indeed champs—and it seems that they are not about to be treated as chumps.

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

by Johnny Walker

David Haye successfully defended his WBA paper title today at the M.E.N. Arena in Manchester, UK,  with a third-round TKO stoppage of Audley “A-Force” Harrison. 

The fight made a mockery of Haye’s criticism, which he repeated again after the fight, that the legitimate heavyweight champions Wladimir and Vitali Klitschko fight “fat Americans” and “bums” who are supposedly beneath the Hayemaker’s own exceedingly high standards.

In reality, Harrison made the recent efforts of Shannon Briggs and Sam Peter against the Klitschkos look downright heroic in comparison with his own pitiful non-effort against Haye.

Harrison, who talked very big during the lead-up to this farce, came up small when it was time for action.  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.

Haye, who had predicted a third-round KO, was content to do almost as little as Harrison for the first two rounds, both men staring at each other and feinting but exchanging very little in the way of actual punches.  Referee Luis Pabon actually admonished both men to start exchanging at one particularly static point in the fight, as the disgruntled fans in attendance rained down boos upon the ring. 

Haye made good on his prediction in the third round, as Harrison continued his frozen man impression.   A series of hard shots put Audley on the mat, though for some reason (as he surely didn’t want to fight) Harrison beat the count.  Haye then attacked him with another flurry and Pabon mercifully stopped one of the worst heavyweight title fights since … well, since Haye won the WBA title from Nikolay Valuev.

More entertaining than the (non) fight was the hyperbole dished out by the UK Sky Sports announcers.  Jim Watt, notorious in Britain for having called the Haye-Valuev fight for the Russian giant, seemed very eager to make amends for his past sins, raving about Haye’s win as if he had just knocked out a combination of Joe Frazier and Mike Tyson, rather than the anemic Fraudley Harrison.

The only thing funnier than Watt was Haye himself, preening and bigging himself up in the post-fight interview as angry boos still reverberated around the arena.  Pressed about his desire to make a fight with one or both of the Klitschkos happen, Haye finally promised the audience that “those fights will happen next year.” 

Of course, we’ve heard similar promises from the Hayemaker before. 

As for tonight’s fight, if Haye is truly serious about retiring in a year’s time, this was a tragic waste of his remaining time in the sport– and of the paying customers’ hard-earned money.

David Haye (l) faces off with Audley Harrison

By Johnny Walker

When WBA heavyweight champion David “Hayemaker” Haye enters the ring against fellow Brit Audley “A-Force” Harrison on Saturday in Manchester, it will be almost exactly two years since the Hayemaker landed with a loud splash in the heavyweight division, the former cruiserweight champ promising to shake things up in a way not seen since the arrival of Mike Tyson.

Haye contended that the recognized champions, brothers Wladimir and Vitali Klitschko, were ruining heavyweight boxing by “fighting bums” and dominating all the competition in such as way as to turn off the general sports fan who might otherwise give boxing a look-in.

Haye was going to change all that, he vowed. 

Since stopping American Monte Barrett in a sloppy fight, however, David Haye has utterly failed to make good on his loud and oft-repeated promise of heavyweight domination.  Instead, the last two years since that 2008 tilt have seen Haye fight infrequently (only once in 2009, with this Saturday’s fight being his second in 2010), but talk almost non-stop, taking a break from the trash-talking verbosity only when the Klitschkos are looking for their next opponents, when Haye falls uncharacteristically silent.

After pulling out of a signed fight with Wladimir with a highly dubious “back injury,” and then bailing on a fight with Vitali at the very last minute with the contracts ready to be signed, Haye undertook a 2009 scrap against Russian giant Nicolay Valuev, wherein he lifted Valuev’s lightly regarded WBA title (which rightly belonged to Ruslan Chagaev).  For all of Haye’s yapping about bringing excitement, this was one of the worst heavyweight title fights of recent times, making Wladimir Klitschko’s less-than-scintillating 2008 unification fight with the now-retired Sultan Ibragimov look like Ali-Frazier III.

Haye spent most of the fight running away from Valuev, who remarked later that he “didn’t know he was going to a track meet.”  Claiming that he hurt his hand early in the fight, Haye produced a far less compelling “win” (even UK-based Sky Sports analyst Jim Watt called the fight for Valuev) against the giant than did Chagaev when he handed Valuev his first loss and took his WBA title in 2007, and didn’t even look as good as the ancient Evander Holyfield did in losing to Valuev in 2008.

Haye, it seemed, was more talk than substance, at least as a heavyweight.

Since taking Valuev’s title, Haye has spent most of his time not in the ring, but in front of various reporter’s tape machines, antagonizing the Klitschko brothers.  His litany of excuses for ducking fights with the Ukrainians has become somewhat of a running joke among non-UK boxing fans (and even among the more discerning and objective of the Brits as well). 

“Slave contracts” supposedly on offer from the Klitschkos’ K-2 Productions is one excuse that Haye loves to return to again and again, even though he gave Sauerland Event and Don King Productions options on at least three of his fights in order to get the title shot at Valuev.  Haye supposedly abhors the idea of rematch clauses, but he still included one in the contract he gave to his next opponent, Audley Harrison.  

When offered a 50-50 worldwide split with no options and no rematch clauses to fight either Klitschko brother, Haye then argued about TV rights. 

Meanwhile, the Hayemaker’s first title defence was against the ageing John Ruiz, a battle-scarred veteran with one foot out the door who, embarrassingly for Haye, didn’t even bother to go to London to promote the fight.  Haye prevailed with a TKO stoppage, but Ruiz hit him hard and fairly easily, exposing flaws that the Klitschkos no doubt would exploit to more devastating effect. 

Ruiz promptly retired after the payday against the Hayemaker.

With the Klitschkos coming off of impressive destructions of their recent opponents, ex-champions Sam Peter (Wlad) and Shannon Briggs (Vitali), the Hayemaker is now under pressure to produce something similar in his next title defense.  Yet even if he destroys Harrison on Saturday, Haye is unlikely to impress the fans to whom he made such extravagant promises two years ago.

Audley Harrison, after all, is a running joke in his own country, a chronic underachiever nicknamed “A-Farce” and “Fraudley” in the British press. 

Haye has taken the easy path here — he hopes.  He is going to make good money, and hopefully put on a show against a fighter who has accomplished very little at all since winning a gold medal in the 2000 Olympics.  But even a destruction of Harrison isn’t going to placate boxing fans around the world who expected so much more of David Haye.  And a loss to Harrison would destroy Haye’s credibility entirely.

Haye versus Harrison, then, isn’t so much an international boxing event, but what Wladimir Klitschko more accurately called “the London championship,” a bout of mainly local interest. 

Or perhaps, given the beverage of choice in England, we might call it, “The Tempest in a Teacup.”