Archives for posts with tag: WBA Heavyweight Title

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?

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Wladimir Klitschko (l) taunted Dereck Chisora with his belt collection

By Johnny Walker

Dereck “Del-Boy” Chisora of the United Kingdom raised the trash-talking stakes today when he called the trainer of IBF, IBO and WBO heavyweight champion Wladimir Klitschko of Ukraine an “Uncle Tom” during a pre-fight press conference for their upcoming title tilt this Saturday in Mannheim, Germany.

The final presser for the fight was very contentious, with Chisora exhibiting a near-total lack of respect for the champion and his legendary trainer Emanuel Steward.

Klitschko taunted Chisora with the belts at one point: “It’s a nice belt, huh?” he said as he waved a championship strap in Chisora’s face.  “You’ve been dreaming about it, huh?  You can take and play with [the belts], I don’t care about it,” Klitschko continued dismissively.

Chisora responded with a blistering verbal attack on the imposing champ.

“You want to be like Muhammad Ali and all the rest, but you will never buy greatness, because you are not that great.  That’s why you’re stuck in Germany, that’s why the other countries don’t want to watch you.  You can’t get a fight in Vegas, no one will pay to watch you in Vegas, because you stink up the joint,” claimed Chisora during his vicious verbal tirade.

“I guess your [ideal] opponent is your ex-girlfriend, who can’t punch back,” a steaming but calm Klitschko countered. 

Chisora was given a suspended sentence in November for an assault on his ex-girlfriend.

Things deteriorated as Chisora tried to argue that his ex-girlfriend is better looking than the champion’s current one (actress Hayden Panettierre), who Chisora described as being “three feet tall.”

Chisora also made the aforementioned racial slur toward Manny Steward, implying with the “Uncle Tom” label that the trainer is a race traitor, working to help a white European fighter defeat black opponents.

Steward was understandably furious. 

“Chisora is a horrible person . . . [but] I don’t have to motivate Wladimir. Chisora already made him mad and showed no respect towards him,” said the Kronk boxing legend. 

Klitschko ended by offering a few choice words in German, drawing a hearty laugh from the reporters present while Chisora frowned. 

Klitschko then turned toward Chisora with his final comment on the proceedings:

“Learn the languages, buddy!”

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)

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.