by Johnny Walker
British heavyweight ex-champion David Haye (26-2-0, 24 KOs) has reveled in playing mind games with the boxing public ever since he entered the heavyweight division after a successful run at cruiserweight, where he united the WBA, WBO and WBC titles win a win over fellow Brit Enzo Maccarinelli in 2008.
Haye taunted and tormented the world heavyweight champion Klitschko brothers at every opportunity, with the notion that they would finally get mad enough to offer him a huge payday for a chance to beat him up.
In the meantime, he lifted former WBA heavyweight champion Nikolai Valuev’s title after leaving an offer to fight WBC champion Vitali Klitschko lying on the table unsigned.
His “win” over Valuev saw Haye spend most of the fight running, averaging around 12 punches per round, while the giant Russian chased him around the ring. Haye did rattle Valuev momentarily with a big shot in the final round, but even an ardent Haye supporter such as British fight commentator Jim Watt scored the fight for Valuev.
Haye, however, walked away with the belt on a majority decision win, with Valuev sourly commenting, ,”I didn’t know I was going to a track meet.”
Anyone who saw Haye versus Valuev might have guessed how the Brit’s impish trainer Adam Booth would advise him to fight a hulking Klitschko brother. And the well-documented result of Haye vs Wladimir shows that is pretty much what happened: a replay of the Valuev fight, but this time with Haye’s adversary getting the win, and Haye scoring a huge payday for himself.
After of period of public shaming in the UK for his failure to knock Klitschko cold as promised, Haye has since found ways to keep his name in the limelight: he “retired” from boxing, and appeared on hit UK reality shows, before getting involved in a fracas with fellow Brit boxer Dereck “Del Boy” Chisora in Germany, leading to an un-retirement and “showdown” in which Haye knocked his opponent out in a soccer stadium in London.
Haye’s retirements and unretirements have since become pretty much of a joke. Of late, he claimed to have his boxing mojo back and signed for a British mega-fight with rising Anglo-Irish giant Tyson Fury. Given Haye’s mixed results against much bigger men, this seemed a bit of a risky choice, even though Fury has shown himself to be vulnerable on several occasions, being knocked down by Canadian champ Neven Pajkic and also by former cruiserweight Steve Cunningham.
Haye, however, may have never had any intention of stepping into the ring with Fury. As the initial fight date approached, Haye suffered a cut above his eye in sparring that he said needed weeks to heal. Another date for the fight was announced, and as the fight again drew near, Haye announced that he had developed a mysterious shoulder problem, and that he was probably retiring from the ring once again.
Fury, of course, after two wasted training camps, was apoplectic, while his trainer and uncle Peter stoically said that he never expected Haye to get in the ring with his fighter.
Unsurprisingly, Haye now seems to be having second (or third, or fourth) thoughts about retirement.
In a recent interview, Haye claims to be working hard in the gym to repair his injured shoulder, and is open to a rematch with Wladimir Klitschko down the road (he had been campaigning for a match with Vitali, but the elder Klitschko is now semi-retired into “emeritus” status to concentrate on the increasingly volatile political situation in his homeland of Ukraine).
While claiming that he doesn’t currently see much chance of a rematch with Wladimir, Haye goes on to say that, “boxing is a funny game sometimes, you think you have no chance of getting a certain situation and all of a sudden it falls on your lap. But I don’t want to focus too much on anything at the moment other than my gym and getting back to full fitness.”
Yes indeed, boxing is a funny game, especially when people like David Haye are playing at it.
Haye went on to offer a backhanded best wishes to Wladimir in his April mandatory title defense against Australia’s Alex Leapai, “someone I’ve never heard of.”
“I hope [Wladimir] wins and keeps healthy and stays fighting for many years to come until my arm heals up and hopefully I can get a rematch,” Haye added.
In other words, we likely haven’t seen the last of David Haye the boxer. And should Wladimir (or even Vitali) come calling, the chances of Haye’s injured shoulder healing quickly appear to be very good indeed.