By Martin ‘The Brain’ Potter @theboxingbrain
The tripod throwin’, trash talkin’, toe breakin’, thunderous punchin’ typhoon – otherwise known as David ‘Hayemaker’ Haye – is, seemingly, set to return to boxing this summer. And I, for one, am delighted.
Although not the best heavyweight (that honour belongs to his conqueror Wladimir Klitschko) or the biggest, David Haye is the most intriguing, charismatic big man out there; he is also the one British fighter, in any weight class, still capable of bringing casual fans to the table. Whilst world (and former world) champions Froch, Khan and Burns have struggled at times to fill indoor arenas, connect with fans or secure quality TV and mainstream press coverage (although, thankfully and rightly, Froch now seems to have broken through), Haye can sell out football stadiums in non-title bouts and provide copious amounts of copy for hungry hacks.
David’s detractors (Haye-ters?!) will point to his crass antics and arrogant attitude. Severed heads on t-shirts and broken bottles were not particularly endearing to the general public. But the truth is that they served their purpose, made Haye (and others) a lot of money and put boxing back in the spotlight. Boxing – more than any other sport – has always had, and needs, pantomime villains, good guys and bad guys. For straight-laced Klitschko, the flip side is ‘wild’ Haye, for respectful Pacquiao we have arrogant showman Mayweather; opposing characters, as well as opposing fighting styles are what draws fans to the fight game.
The other thing – the most important thing – that excites me about Haye’s comeback is the fact that the boy can fight. Has he actually proved it at heavyweight? Well, he has KO’d every heavyweight opponent he has faced bar two. One of these men was over seven feet tall (to former cruiserweight Hayes six feet, three inches) and an undefeated world champion – Haye won on points and shook him to his boots in the process. The other was the best heavyweight on the planet, whom Haye lost on points to. Yes Haye was disappointing in that bout and yes his excuses were a little lame (as was he, big broken toe an’ all), but he still pushed Klitschko harder than many others have in recent years – despite a huge size disadvantage.
Haye held three belts at cruiserweight, was a world amateur silver medallist and held the WBA heavyweight title. He has proven pedigree at the very top-level. Also he is not old for a heavyweight and is certainly not shop-worn, having had fewer than thirty fights. In my opinion Haye has the tools to beat any heavyweight out there; speed, power, athleticism and ability – a rare combination in the current climate.
The biggest issue will be Haye himself and how much he really wants it. One fight a year and a few TV appearances do not a truly great heavyweight make. Haye will do himself and his abilities a disservice if he doesn’t make a serious run, and some serious cash, through the current crop of heavyweights – just imagine the hype surrounding a Tyson Fury stadium fight.
The Hayemaker is ‘bad’ in some people’s eyes, he is good for British boxing in others. Ultimately though, whether you like him or hate him, you will watch David Haye. And if we all watch David Haye, well, that can only be good for boxing.