Sir Henry Cooper Talks David Haye - Says His Behaviour Towards Klitschko Was Bad, His Talent In The Ring Is Good

by James Slater - Though the now infamous "T-Shirt stunt" heavyweight title challenger David Haye used to get under the skin of reigning IBF and WBO heavyweight ruler Wladimir Klitschko almost certainly helped shift a number of the thousands of tickets that have gone for the June 20th fight, the jury is still out as to whether or not he overstepped the bounds of what is acceptable in hype or not. Haye got people talking about the upcoming fight and he got them paying money to see it live, and it was his press conference behaviour that had a lot to do with the interest he has created..

Sure, most fans in attendance in Germany next month will be hoping he gets his mouth shut, but - in a somewhat similar manner to the great Muhammad Ali before him - Haye understands the value of psychological warfare and of making sure a fight becomes as big as it can be. Professing not to care what his haters may say or feel, Haye now has to back up his boasts and win the actual fight. If he can do so, "The Hayemaker" will perhaps be on his way to becoming the legend he thinks he will be.

One man who is without doubt a boxing legend in his home country, is Sir Henry Cooper. And though Cooper, who turned 75 this past Sunday, hopes his countryman Haye can win the fight, he did not like the way the former cruiserweight champ acted before and during the recent press conferences to help sell it.

As noble a gentleman of the sport in his prime years as he is today, Cooper would never have worn a T-shirt depicting images of his opponent with his head cut off - as he made clear when speaking recently to

"I don't want to see David walking around with a T-shirt of other fighters' heads and all the cobblers we've seen in the build-up," Sir Henry said. "The sport has already got enough opposition in the anti-boxing lobby as it is without giving them anything else. Prove how good you are in the ring by stopping Klitschko in one or two rounds.

"I think he overstepped the mark with that T-shirt. I certainly wouldn't have done that. I couldn't have done that - people would have thought I was potty. This is bad for boxing."

Do you agree with Cooper or disagree with him? Some people, very likely the minority, thought Haye's behaviour was quite amusing. Others felt it was bad taste at its worst. Cooper, who is from a different era, clearly belongs in the latter group.

In his day, Cooper twice fought the very man who is credited with inventing trash-talking - Muhammad Ali. I wonder what The Greatest thinks when some people (Emanuel Steward, for one) compare Haye's ticket selling abilities with his own from the 1960s.

Moving on, Cooper DOES like what Haye does inside the ring; even going as far as calling him the best heavyweight contender out there, potential-wise.

"Of all the heavyweight contenders he's got the most potential," Cooper said. "He moves well and he looks good. He has a good punch and at around 15 to 16 stone (210 pounds to 225) he is the right weight for a heavyweight - more mobile than most.

"Those who are 18 to 20 stone are at a disadvantage. He's not a fighter who takes punches to land his own."

Sir Henry did not go as far as to predict a Haye win on June 20th, but - though he dislikes the challenger's out of the ring style - the former British, European and Commonwealth king is sure to be rooting for him.

Article posted on 07.05.2009

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