Why we should all learn to love David Haye

David Hayeby Mark Gregory: Pretty much ever since Lennox Lewis hung up his gloves a little over five years ago, the heavyweight division has been crying out for some much needed excitement and entertainment. It seems that we have been plagued by a succession of plodding, slow and downright uninteresting champions – from the sleep-inducing John Ruiz to the talented but gun-shy Wladimir Klitschko, the big men of the recent past have quite simply not done the flagship division of boxing many favours.

Quite apart from the lack of fireworks these guys have delivered in the ring, if they stood next to cardboard cut-outs of themselves you would have a tough time deciding which one had more personality.

You would think, then, that fans and pundits alike would be delighted at the arrival on the scene of London’s own David D. Haye. The man is charismatic, cocky, loves to trash talk, and, more importantly, he delivers the goods in the ring. I have followed Haye since the beginning of his career and he is always in entertaining fights. For his size he is remarkably quick; his handspeed especially is top drawer. He has genuine KO power in both hands, with only one of his 21 victories going the distance. His only foray into the heavyweight division thus far resulted in a one round, three knockdown blow-out of the usually sturdy Tomasz Bonin.

What’s more, a quick glance at Haye’s record will tell you that this is a fighter who will take on anyone. He fought former world champions Arthur Williams and Carl Thompson in only his 10th and 11th contests. Just five fights after suffering his only career loss to the Cat, he took on and demolished the dangerous Alexander Gurov for the European title. Most recently he defeated his big-punching domestic rival Enzo Maccarinelli, even though he knew he would have to kill himself to make weight. He is now stepping up to heavyweight with the aim of meeting consensus champion Wlad Klitschko within his next three fights; whatever else you say about the man, he has a serious set of stones.

So why, then, are certain boxing sites awash with articles and comments trying to discredit Haye before he has even seriously kicked off his heavyweight campaign? If you were to listen to the Haye-haters you would think he was an unproven, chinless no-mark. The fact that he became the linear and unified cruiserweight champion within 22 fights seems to have been dismissed as insignificant, even though the step up to heavy is not as big a jump as it used to be with the raising of the limit to 200lbs, with Haye usually entering the ring somewhere around 220lbs. Certainly, Haye would never have campaigned at cruiser for more than a couple of years with the old 190lb limit still in place such is the size of his frame. As he says himself, he is a natural heavyweight fighter.

His single loss is pointed to as evidence that he will not be able to take the punches of a legitimate heavyweight, in spite of the fact that anyone who has actually watched the fight will tell you that Haye’s loss to Thompson had very little to do with the quality of Haye’s chin. Granted, he has been down on two other occasions in his career, but then Miguel Cotto never looked the most robust of fighters when he was cutting himself to the bone to make 140lbs, and since then he has proved far more durable. And even if Haye’s chin really isn’t the best, surely that just makes his fights all the more intriguing?

One thing that cannot be questioned is that, whether he succeeds or fails, Haye can only be good for heavyweight boxing. Without even having an opponent named for his November 15th bout, Haye’s second heavyweight debut has already generated significantly more interest than any other heavyweight fight in recent memory. I would imagine that the number of comments this article receives will further prove the point that, love him or loathe him, you cannot ignore him. And that is why, for now, we should all be thankful for David D. Haye, because without him the heavyweight division would have nothing worth talking about.

I for one cannot wait to see him step into the ring on November 15th and remind everyone that heavyweight boxing can actually be an exciting spectacle.

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Article posted on 05.09.2008

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