David Haye Delivers … Ruiz Brave … Klitschko Next?

David HayeBy Stuart Cornwell - David Haye beat John Ruiz in a predictably one-sided affair, diverging only from my pre-fight expectations in that it lasted beyond the sixth round, a testament to Ruiz’ courage more than anything else. Totally outgunned by Haye, (who possessed all the speed and power), and looking every bit his thirty-eight years (and then some), Ruiz marched forward for the best part of nine rounds, absorbing wicked punishment all the way, doggedly trying to make a fight of it. Ruiz picked himself up off the canvas four times in the fight, including twice in the first round, and shipped numerous full-blooded punches without showing an inkling of quitting, before his corner finally put their compassion in front of his pride and threw in the towel at two minutes into the ninth round. From a man who attracted much criticism during his career for his ugly style of fighting and his sometimes excessive holding, Ruiz’ brave effort should go some way in gaining respect from quarters who hitherto have held him up as an object of derision, and erase any doubts that may have existed about his fighting heart. Say what you will about his ability as a fighter, he came to this fight for more than just the payday and he didn’t dog it. I learned a great deal about the character of John Ruiz in this fight. And by the current standards of professional boxing, where quit-jobs have become the norm, Ruiz’ honest attempt in what was little more than a mismatch should be acknowledged - and not begrudgingly..

I learned far less about Haye this fight than I did about Ruiz, who has been fighting professionally ten years longer. In fact, I learned nothing new about Haye. He punches hard and fast, but what else does he do ? As soon as this fight was signed it was obvious that Haye’s speed and power would be too much for Ruiz, a fighter past his prime who I seriously doubt was ever good enough to cope with an athletically-equipped young fighter such as Haye. I have been aware of Haye since he was an amateur and have followed his professional career, where he impressed me early on with his willingness to take on a couple of better-than-average stepping stone opponents in his 10th and 11th fights (Arthur Williams and Carl Thompson), while most British prospects were being fed a steady string of laughably inept opponents. I was impressed with his attitude in defeat when Thompson broke his unbeaten run. Since then he has moved on and defeated some decent fighters. Still, I don’t know how well he can fight, or if he can fight at all. When I wrote the same thing before the fight some readers saw that as an indictment of my knowledge and my faculty of judgment. Possibly so, but it’s my contention that in the world of professional boxing you can get quite far these days without the skills and seasoning of a quality fighter. Beyond all the hype about his promise and ability, Haye’s getting by on pure gift of punch and displaying just a modicum of boxing ability against over-the-hill heavyweights who have little or none of either. If he was doing it against genuinely live fighters then that would be a different matter - but as yet he is not. He holds his left hand low, and the punch he possesses is both quick and powerful, and he delivers it with accuracy, but don’t mistake him for a Roy Jones or a Muhammad Ali. At the moment he’s not even Naseem Hamed.

David Haye certainly delivered the explosive performance he had promised and it is no fault of his that John Ruiz was incapable of providing any sort of test. It looked as if he was going to finish the fight in the first round when he found Ruiz with a terrific “two” of the old one-two, just twenty-five seconds into the match, leaving Ruiz dumped on his back. From there on in it was written, and it would be over-critical and unfair to rubbish Haye’s finishing ability considering the part Ruiz’ heart played in extending the contest, although Haye himself noted in the post-fight interview that he should have been sharper in that area. Against Ruiz, who represented no real threat, it was immaterial. What counted as the only real flaw in Haye’s performance was his sloppy defence, something him and his trainer put down to his sparring schedule being cut short (due to a cut eye) four weeks ago. Ruiz, whose punches approached Haye in slow-mo with no significant power and zero snap, was able to score with his fair share of jabs, double jabs and the occasional right hand as he pressed forward, during those brief periods of the fight where Haye wasn’t bouncing heavy bombs off his skull. We have known for some time that Haye doesn’t possess a naturally “iron” jaw but we dont know for sure what level of punch he CAN take and come back from if he needs to. (It would be wise for him not to test his limit so readily at heavyweight). The way he failed to slip some of those Ruiz punches would have certainly constituted a serious error had he been in with one or two of the better heavyweights in the world today ; foremost on that list the Klitschko brothers.

Haye needs to fight Wladimir Klitschko next or the “excitement” he brings will become very boring very rapidly. He hits hard enough and fast enough to knock Wladimir out if he can find his chin, and there is not another match out there as attractive for either of them. Haye’s done well to promote himself and build the prospect of this showdown up with a combination of outside-the-ring publicity stunts and his inside-the-ring displays of power. Both fighters say they want it. Now it needs to happen. Judging from his recent display against Eddie Chambers, Klitschko still seems to be close to his peak and is without much dispute the number one heavyweight in the world. He’s the best candidate for providing the answer to whether David Haye can really fight. And seeing as Haye’s been exercising his mouth rather profusely for the last two years with proclamations of what he can do to Wladimir Klitschko (an exercise that Klitschko will eventually be grateful for when he finally gets to count the money Haye’s antics will bring in IF the fight takes place), and seeing as Haye’s already pulled out of one fight with him at a late stage, it would be utterly ridiculous for Haye to go any other route now. Ominous talk of Nicolay Valuev’s people enforcing a rematch contract they hold over Haye will surely amount to nothing if there’s any good sense left in the world of professional boxing. I mean, money talks and I simply cannot see any way how Haye-Valuev II can be sold to the paying public with anything like the success of the original, never mind in place of a potential Klitschko-Haye encounter. Furthermore, having seen what David Haye did to John Ruiz last night, I doubt Valuev’s champing at the bit to get another shot at him.

Article posted on 04.04.2010

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