David Haye Approaches Defining Night In Reading

10.05.04 - By Elliot Worsell: Stellar cruiserweight talent David D. Haye 9-0 (9 KO’s) takes one small step for cruiserweight domination and one giant leap for young prospects throughout the land on Wednesday night in Reading, as he takes a significant jump up in class to lock horns with tried and tested US veteran ‘King’ Arthur Williams 38-10-1 (27 KO’s) over eight rounds.

23 year old Haye, a nine fight novice, but possessing an extensive and highly lavished amateur career, has decided to cast aside the ‘L’ plates, and is now approaching the most defining night of his professional career thus far. Haye, always explosive, forever exciting, but liable to go through the motions when no threat is felt, cannot feel any better in the lead up to Wednesday’s contest and is fully aware that in the form of Arthur Williams, he’ll more than have his work cut out.

‘I feel great, and am happy that I’ve got a good opponent.’ Haye remarked. ‘Knowing in the back of my mind that I’m up against a decent opponent makes me feel good and more up for the fight. I’m looking to put on a better performance than I have done in any of my other fights and mentally I feel stronger knowing that I’m up against a tough opponent. If I’m against a poor opponent I just have no emotions in the lead up to the fight and on the night of the fight. There are a lot of people out there who think I may come unstuck against Williams, and that makes me feel better, and gives me something to work with. I didn’t start boxing to fight the likes of Tony Booth and Hastings Rasani – with all respect – I started boxing to be involved in these tough, hard fights, where fans are not sure who will win. I love proving people wrong.’

In ‘King’ Arthur Williams, Haye finally receives the one thing he’s preached for from the beginning of his glittering pro career. A stiff test. Every prospect goes through it; every prospect will tell you they relish it. Usually though, most wait until they have at least docked up double figures on the fights won column. Not Haye though. With merely nine fights under his belt, Haye, forever brimming with confidence and charisma, has urged newly appointed promoters ‘Fight Academy’ to provide him with a challenge, and when the first bell tolls on Wednesday evening, he’ll have been granted his wish.

Williams, at 39 years of age, obviously has seen better days, but still has enough ring smarts and wily shakes about him to provide any of the leading cruiserweight’s with a stern night’s work. Indeed, having mixed ring duties with the likes of Orlin Norris, Chris Byrd and Adolpho Washington in the mid nineties – the latter two enjoying accomplished stints at heavyweight – Williams knows all about soaking up the power punching exploits of bigger men. Throw into the mixer, quality wins against the likes of Imamu Mayfield (TKO 9), Dwight Qawi (pts 10) and brave defeats to the cruiserweight new wave – Vassily Jirov (TKO 7), O’Neil Bell (TKO 11 while ahead on the cards) and newly crowned IBF kingpin Kelvin Davis (SD 12), and you have one well tested, hugely rounded cruiserweight practitioner, and a former world title holder to boot. Something the go-getting Haye hopes to parallel in his flourishing career.

‘King’ Arthur’s last ring showing was a ten round points reversal to unbeaten eastern European prospect Vadim Tokarev, in Tokarev’s first real, genuine test as a professional. Tokarev was 16-0-1 going in. Though the Tokarev defeat may signify some kind of demise in Williams’ ring attributes, the fact that he’s busy, active and on the look out for fights on a regular basis, also tells us something about the guy’s ambition. This natural, hard hitting cruiserweight, despite tasting world title glory in the past, still has enough drive and ambition, to push any leading light all the way. David Haye, like young US prospect Rydell Booker, is fully aware of this fact.

‘I’ve seen him up against Rydell Booker not so long ago, and the commentators on that one had Booker winning by only one round.’ Haye commented. ‘That was a ten rounder and Williams pushed Booker every inch of the way. Williams showed his strength and durability in that fight, and was confusing Booker a lot with his gangly, long armed style. He started off quite slow, but then picked up, and put real pressure on Booker late on, and hopefully I’ll get the same sort of treatment on Wednesday. I’m expecting this fight to go the distance. Going eight quality rounds will mean a whole lot more than just chinning some guy in a round, and this guy Williams has extended some pretty mean punchers in his career. People in boxing know who Williams is, and some of them are even tipping him to do a number on me, which is great from my point of view. I don’t want to be in any fights where people are going in expecting me to chin my opponent in one or two rounds, if that can be prevented, it will.’

So far in Haye’s fledgling career, he’s mixed with the brave, the competent, the dangerous, and the sheepish. Assign the fighter’s on his nine-fight resume, accordingly. By his own admission he’s yet to face a real test as professional, and has freely confessed to the fact that his first 12 months without vest and headgear have been all about learning and adjusting to the pro game. Now everything’s been put into motion, and with Haye doing more shouting than Freddie Mercury and throwing about more boasts than a satisfied Viagra customer, the big fights will soon be landing at his itchy feet. Williams, as Haye candidly explains is a far sterner test than the threats represented by the domestic rivals Haye has called out from every available microphone.

‘I think Williams is better than every cruiserweight in Britain at the moment.’ Haye acknowledges. ‘I think he’d beat Hobson, Thompson and a lot of the others. I’m not going to wait around for any of the British based fighters to give me an opportunity and I’ve always said I won’t just be the best cruiserweight in Britain, but I’ll be the best in the world. I’m going out of my way to prove that. After the Rasani win, I stated that I was looking at well-ranked, world-class opponents, and for some reason the commentator thought I was meaning 10 to 12 months down the line. I was meaning immediately, and am being totally honest when I say that I’d fight Carl Thompson or any other top cruiserweight, tomorrow if I had the chance.’

‘I was watching Miguel Cotto only last night, and he’s doing things the way I’m looking at doing them. He’s tackling top rated opponents, and not hanging around. I like the way De La Hoya, Holyfield, Vargas, and other guys moved along early in their careers. If you’re good enough, and people believe in you, then you don’t need to go 30 and 0 before you take a test.’

Despite focussing momentarily on imported opposition, Haye, acknowledges that there are still plenty of fish to fry on these shores, and is more than happy to provide the batter.

‘I’ve said from day one that I believe I have the beating of most cruiserweights in Britain. Carl Thompson, because of his high world rating, and the fact that he holds some form of title, is my obvious first choice, and by beating well-ranked guys like Arthur Williams I’m working my way towards that. It’s all been agreed that in the near future I will meet Carl for his IBO title, and so long as I keep on winning and work my way into the IBO top 30, that shouldn’t be a problem. I know that I have the beating of Carl, and can’t wait to get it on.’

On most road maps you’ll find the path stretching from honest Hastings Rasani to world class Arthur Williams a murky and blurred one. Haye and manager Adam Booth are fully aware that, should the talented Londoner dispose of Williams’ obvious threat on Wednesday night, there’s no going back for the 23-year-old hotshot. The demand will be massive, the pressure intense, the spotlight on full beam. In terms of opposition, one imagines, like Haye’s rapid progress, it will have to be onwards and upwards from here on. Something that doesn’t bother Haye in the slightest.

‘That is exactly what I want and is exactly what I thrive on. If I can show that I can beat guys like Arthur Williams, why would I need to drop back down a level, just to pad my record more? It’s common sense to just continue my progression, and when I beat Williams, to then look for the next step up. I don’t want to be protected, and I don’t want to be involved in fights that offer no threat to me. Once I beat Williams, the only fights I’ll be looking for will be meaningful, risky contests that will bring out the best in me. I believe that it’s far more beneficial for me to be over-matched than under-matched, because at least if I’m given hard fights I’ll be 100% up for it, and given the chance to show what I can do.’

The best of Haye will have to be shown in all it’s glory on Wednesday night to come through this taxing Arthur Williams test unscathed. Williams, teak tough, experienced and unlikely to be fazed by anything the showy prospect in front of him has to offer, will be there from the start pitching, and unless Haye produces something truly spectacular, will also be around at the end of the scheduled eight rounds. Look for Haye to focus more on his blinding hand speed and ring nouse, than his touted power punching. Note the regular use of Haye’s left jab, something that he often neglects when he realises an opponent poses no obvious threat to him. The young Bermondsey talent is fully aware of Williams' tough jaw, and will in all likelihood elect brain over brawn to outscore the highly rated Williams over the distance. Whatever happens, as Haye’s first ‘tester’ against African wild man Lolenga Mock proved, it won’t be one to take you’re eye’s off.

Article posted on 10.05.2004

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