Will The REAL Hayemaker Please Stand Up
David Haye has now officially signed to fight Former European heavyweight Champion and Olympic Gold Medalist Audley Harrison in a contest that his trainer and manager Adam Booth said he never wanted to see happen. Despite numerous failed attempts to reach an agreement with the Klitschko brothers, Haye and Booth claim they were forced to look at alternative opponents as the Ukrainian brothers tired of the duos endless games and financial demands.
The fight illustrates just how far the heavyweight division has plunged in recent years. If you had told the average fight fan a few years ago that David Haye would be defending the heavyweight title against Audley Harrison with £10m at stake they would have laughed at you. However, this fight is no joke and it is indicative of why fans are deserting the sport, as none of the current title-holders have the capacity to strike a deal and prove who the real heavyweight champion is.
David Haye does not deserve to be mentioned in the same breath as past champions such as Mike Tyson, Riddick Bowe, Lennox Lewis or Larry Holmes. The common misconception touted about by the media is that David Haye represents a new dawn for the heavyweight division. I agree, he has talent and can punch, but he is little more than an opportunist looking to capitalise in a division devoid of quality and charismatic fighters. Up until now the paying public have been gullible enough to believe the hype, what is the alternative?
Adam Booth recently expressed a damning verdict on Audley Harrison and poured scorn on his chances of A-Force defeating the Hayemaker.
“He’s never boxed anyone in the top 40 and never produced in the ring. Audley’s only hope would be that he finds his bollocks and David’s chin at the same time.”
So besides the money, why is Haye fighting Harrison when there was still an opportunity to sign a deal with one of the Klitschko’s had Haye put his enormous ego to one side or taken on a more worthy challenger in Thomas Adamek?
When he gate-crashed the world scene by capturing the WBA and WBC cruiserweight titles, after knocking out Frenchman Jean-Marc Mormeck in the seventh round and subsequently unifying the division by beating the highly overrated WBO Champion Enzo Maccarinelli, Haye proclaimed he was moving up to clean up the heavyweight division and that he did not want to be protected, claiming on his own website.
“I didn’t want to pick up some KFC title and call myself a world champion, knowing deep down I wasn’t. It’s better to take a risk and fail – finding something out about yourself along the way – than to never have taken the risk at all. This is something I’ll be looking to get across to all the boxers I work alongside at Hayemaker.”
Who has David Haye really fought that can be regarded as a good heavyweight and is the WBA belt that he won from an ex-basketball player Nicolai Valuev really any better than the KFC belt?
The writing was on the wall for Monte Barrett as he embarrassingly hit the deck before the opening bell whilst failing to emulate Chris Eubank and hurdle the top rope entering the ring. Having been knocked out on numerous occasions and not having a reputation as a big puncher, the New Yorker Barrett managed to knock Haye down before succumbing as he has so often to a KO loss.
Nicolai Valuev chased David Haye around the ring for twelve rounds, as “The Hayemaker” turned in a performance almost as memorable as Johnny Nelson’s abysmal Cruiserweight challenge against Carlos Deleon years before, the British fans and media lost all sense of reality in celebrating such a tepid performance.
John Ruiz was labelled as one of the worst heavyweight champions of all time by David Haye and having already fought an opponent in Valuev could have claimed that title outright, The Hayemaker decided to treat his British fans to another opponent who at 37 and following many hard battles simply had nothing left to offer in the ring. In all reality John Ruiz was never going to beat David Haye that night, but “The Hayemaker” although he was victorious came out of that fight more marked up than usual.
Next up the quest to clean up the heavyweight division and live up to his own hype and take on all challengers including the Klitschko brothers and unify the titles. He did say take on all comers, so true to form when Audley Harrison came calling Haye and his manager/trainer Adam Booth must have jumped for joy as they were given yet another excuse to avoid the Klitschko’s and get the British public to pay them handsomely for a far less risky fight. Only recently David Haye confirmed that he will retire from the sport by the end of October 2011 and based on his recent track record of inactivity it means he will only fight once or possibly twice before he quits and heads back to his tax haven in Northern Cyprus with bundles of cash. Was it another ploy to try to get the Klitschko’s around the negotiating table?
Contrary to his own opinion that a fight against him equals the biggest and best purse that either brother could earn, there is a far bigger fight out there that exceeds anything David Haye could offer either fighter. If the two brothers fought each other and unified the World titles it would leave David Haye in the lurch with no defining fight to cement his legacy.
Other UK fighters such as Carl Froch and Ricky Hatton have talked the talk, but they have fulfilled their promise to the fans and delivered by taking on the best fighters in their division, win or lose. What has become more than apparent is that although David Haye belittles Audley Harrison for not living up to his own hype, he is fast becoming the laughing-stock on boxing forums around the World as he makes outlandish claims about what he is going to do, how he is the saviour of boxing, but he has done little inside the ring to back up these claims. For all his faults, Audley Harrison maybe summed it up best when he claimed that “The Hayemaker” was a “False prophet”
In 2001 Audley Harrison set up A-Force Promotions, this was before Goldenboy had started and it claimed independence for the boxer as he negotiated a historic deal with the BBC. Following 10 lacklustre performances the BBC pulled the plug on Harrison and with it boxing on terrestrial television. Rightly or wrongly Harrison was treated like a pariah by the media and UK boxing fraternity and with nowhere left to go Harrison headed to the States in search of fame and recognition, yet again he was unsuccessful as he lost to Dominic Guinn. During the build up to that fight his old friend David Haye passed by with Adam Booth and the two fighters sparred together as Lennox Lewis looked on. Harrison gave his account of the now infamous sparring session stating;
“It was 2 weeks away from his fight and he was at the end of his camp. Round 1: David came out throwing combinations, 3 and 4 at a time; I was so slow, I couldn’t even keep up with him. Wave after wave of punches came my way; he wasn’t holding back. I kept my guard tight and looked for an opening but couldn’t get off. The onslaught continued for 3 rounds and I hardly landed a shot on him.
My team looked at me like what the f..k was that about? Was I embarrassed? HELL YES!”
Harrison then added
“I will say this, David has never hurt me all the many times we have boxed; I don’t think he can say the same.”
When Audley Harrison needed a friend following his loss to Irish cabbie Martin Rogan and at a time when he was struggling to cope with the death of his younger brother Vincent who died of a suspected brain haemorrhage, Harrison soon found out what “The Hayemaker” was all about. When Harrison was the media darling and hot property he had always looked out for the younger fighter. He got him ringside tickets to watch Mike Tyson fight Julius Francis, offered him a spot on his undercard which was televised on national television and also invited him to numerous celebrity parties including one for P. Diddy in which Haye claims he tried to chat up Jennifer Lopez (then girlfriend to P. Diddy)
But Audley Harrison has revealed that having been there in the good times, Haye did not bother to return the same generosity to Harrison when he asked for a spot on the undercard of a Hayemaker Promotion. Harrison’s calls went unanswered and Adam Booth was left to pass on the message that there was no room for him on the promotion.
This fight is personal and yes it will sell on pay-per-view whether it is value for money or not. As a sport fan what else is there to do on a cold night in November in England?
There have been many heavyweight title fights that are far worse than David Haye v Audley Harrison. The bottom line is David Haye has failed to back up his bragging having shouted from the rooftops that he would save the division and bring back a level of respect which has deserted the Heavyweight crown since Lennox Lewis retired as Undisputed Champion. Haye has not lived up to the hype and the tide has turned quickly against “The Hayemaker” and just maybe Audley Harrison can follow in the footsteps of other Heavyweight underdogs who had one great fight in them, Buster Douglas and a 45-year-old George Foreman shocked the World, so why not A-Force?
As I reflect on what Adam Booth once said about hall of fame trainer Emmanuel Steward who guided Thomas Hearns to numerous World titles and trained a list of who’s who in boxing such as Evander Holyfield, Oscar De La Hoya, Michael Moorer, Lennox Lewis, Naseem Hamed, Julio Cesar Chavez and Wladimir Klitschko;
“Manny Steward (trainer of Wladimir Klitschko) has dined out on Tommy Hearns for far too long”
Maybe David Haye and Adam Booth have started to believe their own hype and dined out on the British fight fans for far too long?
By Eoin Mundow