David Haye: All Bravado, No Bottle

By Jeff Meyers: Wow. Pathetic. Disgraceful. Shameful. These are the words that come to mind upon viewing David “The Excusemaker” Haye’s uninspired, horrid performance Saturday evening in Hamburg, Germany against Wladimir Klitschko in a match that unified three of the heavyweight belts (WBA, WBO and IBF). After all the chest-pounding, insults and smack talk that brought David Haye to the pinnacle of his career, Mr. Haye…just…wouldn’t…fight.

It’s as simple as that.

As a result, Haye will pocket millions of dollars and hopefully—for fans of boxing who actually like to see fighters back up their words with actions—make good on his threat to retire from boxing.

For those who didn’t see the fight, it was another in a long series of dominating but somewhat unsatisfying victories obtained by Wladimir Klitschko, with Dr. Steelhammer using his foot movement, stiff jab and height to keep opponents at bay while slowly battering them back into their shells. Klitschko can be legitimately criticizing for not heeding the words of now-exasperated trainer Emmanuel Steward, who unsuccessfully implored his charge to go after the tired, confused and scared Haye and end the thing in the later rounds. Klitschko settled for a unanimous decision win.

But as Wladimir pointed out in an interview following the bout, it’s kind of hard to fight against someone who is so terrified of getting hit that he won’t engage. The way Haye waxed on about how Klitschko was robotic, uninspiring and lacking stones prior to the fight was clearly projection. Haye was content to showboat, preen and throw potshots from across the ring all night as opposed to actually throwing punches. There were no jabs from Haye; the Brit was happy bobbing and weaving all night. Even when Haye actually landed one of his Hayemakers, he wouldn’t follow up and try to inflict more damage.

In light of his pre-fight antics, Haye’s performance is exponentially annoying because he duped millions into believing he had the bottle—English slang for courage—to match his bravado. Not so much.

Whenever a fighter starts looking to the referee for help, I know he’s either in trouble or has no interest in actually fighting. That was Haye: The Excusemaker kept flopping on the canvas every time Klitschko got close to him and clinched. It got so bad that referee Genaro Rodriguez actually had to take the matter into his own hands by interpreting Haye’s eleventh-round blatant pratfall as a knockdown instead of a throw down by Klitschko. It was one of the highlights of the bout and underscored just how impatient the fans and all those who plunked down money to watch the fight must have felt by watching a man fight for three title belts who thought he could actually win without throwing punches.

But the excuses and gripes didn’t end inside the ring. Haye’s whining spilled over into his post-bout interview with Larry Merchant, where we saw Haye actually took the time to remove his right shoe to show he broke his toe a few weeks prior, which adversely affected Haye’s performance since he couldn’t sit down on his punches.

What? Really?

I can only imagine what was going through the heads of Lennox Lewis and George Foreman, who were at the arena in Hamburg, if they saw Haye’s interview. I think it’s fair to say you’d never in a million years see champions like Lewis, Foreman, Muhammad Ali, Mike Tyson or Joe Louis refuse to go out on their sword in a heavyweight fight of such magnitude. To say Haye didn’t leave it all out there in the ring Saturday is an understatement. He barely lifted his sword.

Article posted on 03.07.2011

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