by Jeff Meyers: Two months ago, David “The Hayemaker” Haye, Great Britain’s last heavyweight champion since hall of famer Lennox Lewis retired in 2004, proclaimed:
If the [Wladimir Klitschko] fight doesn’t happen now, it never will. I’m done with the Klitschkos. I know I can retire later this year with my head held high, knowing I did everything in my power to make these fights happen. I’ve had defining fights and beaten the best in the world as a cruiserweight, but, without me, Wladimir can never say he’s done the same as a heavyweight.
Following World War II, the infamous “Red Scare” produced an anti-communism hysteria throughout America. As a result, the U.S. government officially investigated many innocent American artists and intellectuals, with the unjustified accusations of Communist sympathy tainting or destroying many lives. The government figure most associated with this dark time of American history is United States Senator Joseph McCarthy, whose witch hunt tactics and demagoguery were so reprehensible that, nearly sixty years later, similar behavior is still branded as “McCarthyism.”
Back in 1954, Senator McCarthy was pursuing an inconsequential vengeance against the U.S. Army that dragged through months of Congressional hearings. At one point, McCarthy placed into the record the unnecessary information that the law firm representing the Army employed a young lawyer who had briefly belonged to a chapter of a leftist organization (the Lawyer’s Guild) even though this lawyer was not on the Washington legal team representing the Army and had nothing to do with the case. But since the young attorney’s career could be finished if he was publicly smeared as a communist—a malicious blow McCarthy could strike against the senior attorney representing the Army, Joseph Welch—McCarthy attempted to place the young lawyer’s brief association with the leftist group on the record.
Welch, along with a steadily increasing number of U.S. politicians and American citizens, had seen enough of McCarthy’s shameful antics. Welch put on the gloves and derailed McCarthy’s smear attempt by turning the attack back on McCarthy, criticizing him personally and pleading with McCarthy not to continue with the following famous words:
Have you no sense of decency, sir? At long last, have you left no sense of decency?
These two concise statements served to expose the bankruptcy of McCarthy’s ill-conceived crusade, and upon seeing such repulsive and self-aggrandizing behavior, Americans quickly turned against McCarthy and he died shortly thereafter.
Even the most ardent Anglophobe would have trouble convincing anyone that Haye’s comments and megalomania merit the same scorn as McCarthy’s witch hunt tactics in 1950s America. That said, Haye’s actions and words over the past two years—e.g., sordid magazine photos showing Haye holding the severed head of Vitali Klitschko and his recent Orwellian hubris regarding his legacy among the heavyweight elites—bear similarity to the disgraceful behavior of Senator McCarthy as respects the pugilistic arena.
Haye’s brutal destruction in early 2008 of former WBC, WBO and WBA cruiserweight champion Enzo Maccarinelli via a swift series of powerful combinations that left the Welshman woozy and staggering around the ring created an instant rush of excitement for heavyweight boxing fans.
Haye’s brilliant performance and charismatic promise to revitalize the heavyweight division infused some well-needed excitement into boxing’s moribund marquee division. Unfortunately, Haye’s subsequent tasteless behavior and chutzpah eventually eroded the respect and support initially held by “The Hayemaker.”
One delusional belief Haye espouses is that his future as savior of the heavyweights is secured—based on his successful cruiserweight career. Really?
The problem with this claim is that Haye hasn’t achieved nearly as much as Evander Holyfield or James Toney—the last legitimate cruiserweights-turned-heavyweight champs—at either the cruiserweight or heavyweight divisions.
Another beef fans have with Haye is that the Brit’s antics fly in the face of “old school” thought regarding the proper way for an aspiring challenger to act when attempting to snatch a champion’s belt. Haye was expelled from this school the moment he starting his series of unsavory attempts to goad the Klitschko brothers into an immediate title fight. Never mind that Haye wasn’t on any of the sanctioning organizations’ lists of top ten contenders. Never mind that Haye had yet to fight a single heavyweight. Haye’s arrogance is still shocking for someone whose heavyweight résumé consists of a mere four fighters: one journeyman (Monte Barrett); one lumbering seven foot Russian giant who won’t go down in anyone’s history book as a top flight heavyweight; a way-past-his-prime thirty eight year-old John Ruiz and Audley Harrison. Enough said.
Why Haye thinks he is entitled to so much respect from the Klitschkos is mind-boggling. Especially for fans old enough to remember the 1970s era of boxing, when Muhammad Ali, Joe Frazier, George Foreman, Ken Norton and a host of other worthy contenders (e.g., Ron Lyle and Jerry Quarry) all fought each other without resorting to the kind of rubbish Haye spews to the press. Can you imagine the reaction from any of the 1970s champions if Haye were to pull the same acts in negotiating a bout? Better yet: can you envision guys like Quarry, Lyle, George Chuvalo or Earnie Shavers acting in any manner but humble and grateful for the chance to actually fight for the championship belt?
Like former U.S. Senator Joseph McCarthy, David Haye’s shameless shtick eventually grew old. And like the eventually disgraced McCarthy, Haye is now reaping what he has sown: an exponentially increasing disrespect by his own countrymen. Haye has continually baited the brothers Klitschko into thinking a boxing match might actually take place only to back out at the eleventh hour.
For those not following the soap opera, Wladimir previously agreed to fight in England only for Haye to back out of the deal after failing to secure the promised soccer stadium. But isn’t the most logical conclusion that any refusal by Haye to fight stemmed from the fact that the only venues Haye was able to secure offered lesser financial return than staging the bout in Germany? Haye’s prior claim that he would draw three-quarters of the money to the bout was absurd: who else could Haye fight to draw big numbers on British pay-per-view? Who has more international exposure, the Klitschkos or Haye? Finally, Haye’s later claim that granting Klitschko a fifty-fifty split of the bank was a concession to the Klitschkos flies in the face of Haye’s repeated claims that he had agreed to such a deal the summer before.
Even Haye’s main broadcast supporter, Sky Sports, appeared to grow weary of the Hayemaker’s shenanigans. A frank article on Sky’s website (by writer and former cruiserweight champion Glenn McCory) said this: “I know there are two sides to every story and it takes two to tango, but I haven’t seen either [Klitschko] brother duck anybody yet…I have known [the Klitschkos’] manager Bernd Boente for over 20 years and he strikes me as a decent and fair guy. I am not saying [Haye manager and trainer] Adam Booth isn’t by any means, but I still can’t get over the fact that David Haye needs this fight, the Klitschkos don’t.”
Fortunately for Haye and his tattered reputation, the time has finally come for Haye to pay the piper.
According to a March 23, 2011 article in Fightnews.com, a contract has been signed for the unification clash between IBF/WBO/IBO heavyweight champion Wladimir Klitschko and WBA heavyweight champion David Haye (25-1, 23 KOs) in a bout that will take place in late June or early July at a yet-to-named European venue. Should the fight actually take place—Haye has backed out before, remember—it will be a good day for the boxers, fans and the sport.
But not good in the way Have envisions. Haye will get beat like a gong. But the fight will be good for Wladimir Klitschko because it will advance his legacy as an all-time great who never ducked an opponent. The fight is also good for the public, who will finally see Haye for what he is: a paper tiger who talks a big game but fails to deliver the goods. Finally, the fight will be good for Haye. Hopefully the loss will instill Haye with some sorely needed humility and expose the folly he keeps trying to foist upon boxing fans, namely, that Haye is worthy of worship as heavyweight division savior despite the utter failure to prove his mettle.
The fight will be even better if Haye actually pulls off the upset. Why not? Watching the Klitschkos methodically crush every challenger that comes down the pike is starting to get boring. A shakeup in the division might revitalize the sport.
Easier said than done.
Every Wladimir or Vitali Klitschko challenger deludes himself to believe he stands a shot of dethroning either brother. And every challenger gets his ass handed to him.
Haye will fare no different. Styles make fights. When Wladimir fought Samuel Peter in their first matchup, then-HBO commentator said “Show me a tall fighter with a good jab and I’ll show you a guy who’s tough to beat.” Wlad fights tall and has the best jab in the division. Haye, while wielding good fundamentals, often fights “short,” ducking lower than he should and not using his height (6’ 3”) to his advantage. That style will work in favor of the Ukrainian champion.
In the months to come, scribes and fans alike will opine that Haye’s superior hand speed will allow him to get up in Wlad’s grill and rough him up before Klitschko know what hits him. Again, easier said than done. Every fighter that has tried this tactic either gets beat down by a ramrod job or gets tied up by a clinch. Clinches from a 250-lb. strong-as-an-ox fighter eventually wear a fighter down and drain energy. It’s usually that time in the fight when Wlad goes for the knockout.
There will also be plenty of predictions that Haye’s hand speed and power will eventually break Wlad’s supposed glass jaw. Once again, easier said than done. Chris Byrd, Calvin Brock, Lamon Brewster, Sultan Ibragimov, Tony Thompson, Hasim Rahman, Ruslan Chagaev, Eddie Chambers and Samuel Peter all put forth variations on this argument in support of their predicted knockouts. All but Ibragimov were TKOed or knocked out cold. And it’s Haye with the papier-mâché chin, not Klitschko. It’s no secret that Haye’s chin is suspect: his lone loss at cruiserweight was by TKO, and Haye was wobbled by Monte Barrett in their bout. Yes, Monte Barrett. Haye is unlikely to remain upright after tasting either Klitschko’s powerful left hook or his straight right hand, both of with are equally lethal.
Mr. Haye: time to pay the piper for your hubris, bad taste and disrespect to the traditions of boxing.