Very little about David Haye is conventional. Articulate, opinionated and a superb athlete, he made a career out of making his own choices and dictating his own terms in and out of the ring. And it appears he’s back… and as unconventional as ever.
Weighing in significantly heavier than ever before and looking in great shape, Haye made light work out of knocking out over matched Australian Mark De Mori on Freeview channel Dave and in an apparently sold out 02 arena inside one round last month.
My first reaction was, why this had even happened. Haye, at 35, had already claimed he would be gone from the sport at 31. He still came back to beat Derek Chisora in an entertaining fight, but his chronic shoulder problems had apparently forced him into retirement, regardless if he wanted to fight on or not.
As De Mori was left unconscious in the ring, for the first time in a long time watching the sport, I felt uncomfortable at seeing someone in that condition. I’m sure De Mori was well paid, believed he could win and I applaud anyone at any level who has the guts to get into a ring. After three and a half years out, an easier fight for Haye was always sensible. But De Mori was so obviously over matched from even the most cursory glance at his record that what was to gain from a sporting perspective, was lost on me. It’s worth noting as well that Ray Leonard, had a three year ‘retirement’ before fighting all-time great Marvin Haggler, and he had only fought once in the previous five years. Floyd Mayweather also had a two year absence before beating the similarly talented Juan Manuel Marquez. So whilst I can’t begrudge Haye an easier fight on his return, it isn’t always the ‘done thing’ in the sport.
Haye has always carried power and that’s something, which rarely leaves a boxer, regardless of age and condition. But what made Haye so brilliant to watch was that power aligned with speed and explosiveness. Did that fight allow him to exhibit that? Not really, as De Mori shelled up and immediately allowed himself to be trapped against the ropes and in the corner.
Despite my reservations, his new trainer Shane McGuigan is an elite level operator and must truly believe that Haye still have the ability to challenge at the top end of the division. Domestic showdowns with Anthony Joshua and Tyson Fury would be blockbuster events both financially and perhaps in the ring. And fights against more fringe name such as David Price and Dillian Whyte probably wouldn’t fail in generate a fair amount of interest either.
A fit and motivated Haye is a privilege to have in the division and I hope we see him back out again soon. My hope is however, that we see him in the ring against someone who can show the fans what he really has left in the tank.
As McGuigan ponders on his man’s chances against the man of the moment Anthony Joshua, he concludes; “I think it’s 100 per cent from our point of view that the Anthony Joshua fight will happen. When Joshua gets to that position though, will he be ready? Will he be able to deal with the lateral movement? Can he hit a moving target? He’s never hit a moving target, he’s never fought somebody who’s slipping and sliding. When David does that he comes back with big shots and he’s quick. It’s an interesting fight and I’m definitely backing my man to knock him out.”