David Haye - Can He Rule At Heavyweight?

haye17.04.07 - By James Slater: The heavyweight division is all over the place at the moment. No sooner does a fighter capture a version of the title, he goes ahead and loses it after a few defences at the most - or none at all in the case of one recent belt holder. The constantly changing picture in the weight class of the big guys was given yet another addition this past Saturday, with the upset win of Uzbeck challenger Ruslan Chagaev over defending WBA champ Nicolai Valuev. With this defeat for "The Beast From The East" a possible unification bout between the huge Russian and IBF king Wladimir Klitschko went out of the window. It seems we are no closer then, to a unified and universally recognised heavyweight champion.

With the division seemingly so open and constantly changing, it really is no wonder Britain's David Haye is moving up to join it. David still has unfinished business at cruiserweight, where he is determined to become world champion, but already he has made his goal of ruling among the heavies apparent. The first step in this campaign starts on April 27th, in London.

And, in a move designed to show how serious he is about fighting in boxing's ultimate weight class, "The Hayemaker" takes on one Thomasz Bonin of Poland. Bonin, who is ranked number twelve in the world by the WBC, has a very impressive record of 37-1 (20). But, before we get too excited, we must remind ourselves that the sole loss on the thirty-three year old's record came at the hands of the much ridiculed Audley Harrison. Still, as a first step up, the fight is not a bad one for Haye to take. Also, in his losing effort to "A-Force," Bonin did well until the slightly controversial stoppage in round number nine. Since that fight, back in 2004, Thomasz has won eleven in a row, six inside the distance. He is a live opponent for Haye then, without a doubt.

What David has in mind is a spectacular heavyweight debut, provided by a devastating KO victory - before moving back down to 200 pounds for a fight with world champion Jean-Marc Mormeck. A loss to Bonin could well prove disastrous. His fight with the French title holder could still happen should the twenty-six year old come unstuck on the 27th, but his dreams of following Evander Holyfield from cruiserweight to heavyweight glory would be all but over. This won't happen, though. At least not too many experts believe it will. But what of the once beaten Londoner's chances of becoming the next big thing at heavyweight anyway?

Should he do as expected and emerge victorious in his next bout, and then do as perhaps is unexpected - at least by some - and defeat Mormeck after that, will David then go on to bring order to the heavyweights? A genuinely talented fighter, Haye is athletic, quick, can punch extremely hard and has proven he can come through a fight if the going becomes tough. Both his stamina and chin have been questioned in the past, yet worries about the former were somewhat laid to rest in his last fight. Coming through a hard and fast paced fight with the Italian, Giacobbe Fragomeni, in nine exciting rounds, David proved that he can suck it up and prevail when tired. His chin, however, remains debatable.

He has only been stopped once, though, in his sole loss to Carl Thompson. And this was at the division he is soon to leave due to the struggle required to make the weight. Haye regularly boils down from a poundage far above the cruiserweight limit, and maintains he is a natural heavyweight. It may be that he is right, and that the loss to "The Cat," even though it was suffered over two-and-a-half years ago, was at least partially due to being weakened at the weight. David's inexperience too was certainly a factor. But now, with many of his qualities having been shown since this lone setback, Haye looks a different fighter.

Different enough to capture at least a version of the crown at heavyweight? Who knows. But let's take a look at what his likely options will be when he does join the division full time. It will be well into next year before Haye is ready to challenge for any of the differing versions of the heavyweight title. And by that time the Lord alone knows who will be holding them, such is the current trend of short reigning big men. Wladimir Klitschko, generally considered to be the best of the current champs, figures to more than likely remain where he is until this time next year. A scheduled rematch with the man who last beat him, in a severely inactive Lamon Brewster, shouldn't give "Dr. Steel Hammer" too many problems. Although to completely write off a man with the courage and toughness "Relentless" possesses would be a foolish thing to do. Expect a thoroughly prepared and focused Klitschko to get the job done this time around, though. That fight is set for July, and at his usual work rate that could well be it for Wladimir for the remainder of the year. Maybe he will get one more fight in around November or December, but don't hold your breath. In other words, the possibility of another upset loss to Brewster aside, put your money on WK still being IBF king when David is ready to challenge for a belt. Would he have a chance with Wladimir? It would be good to find out, that's for certain.

As for the other champions, it's hard to predict whether or not they will remain as such by next year. Chagaev, though unbeaten, remains something of a mystery. Was Valuev prime for a defeat anyway? Those who saw him as nothing more than a freak show, and one who would be seen off as soon as he fought somebody with genuine determination and ability at that, will certainly say so. Until he fights again then, we can't be sure how good the now 23-0-1 Chagaev is. He may well lose his title on his first defence. Pointless then, is it to predict the outcome of a fight between he and Haye. The same can be said of Oleg Maskaev. You will be hard pressed to find anyone who thinks he will still be a world champion in 2008. Sam Peter will more than likely do an absolute number on him. "The Nigerian Nightmare" will then have to accommodate the returned Vitali Klitschko, so a fight between he and Haye won't be happening any time soon either. And Vitali's comeback seems destined to end after one solitary championship fight only, win or lose. That only leaves WBO champ Shannon Briggs. What did I say about belt holders who only make one defence, or none at all? Shannon could well fall into that category.

Basically then, until the upcoming fights of the current ruling champs are out of the way, it is a tough call predicting how "Britain's most exciting fighter" will get on at championship level as a heavyweight. He may have to face the younger of the Klitschko brothers to fulfil his dream, or he might wind up squaring off with Sultan Ibragimov or Sam Peter. Whatever course he has to take, though, "The Hayemaker" should be applauded as and when he does so. It takes courage for any fighter to move up to face bigger and harder punching opposition. It will also be entertaining for us fans seeing how Haye's heavyweight championship odyssey pans out.

If he gets past Thomasz Bonin, of course. For if the Pole springs another of heavyweight boxing's upsets, all bets are off regarding Mr. Haye's chances of campaigning there.

Article posted on 17.04.2007

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