WATCH THE FIGHT ABOVE
London’s David Haye continued his comeback and mission to become heavyweight world champion again, scoring a 2nd round KO, over previously unbeaten Kosovo-Albanian Arnold Gjergjaj at London’s 02 Arena on Saturday night.
Former heavyweight and undisputed cruiserweight world champion Haye, was having his second fight in five months, having previously had three and half years out since knocking out Dereck Chisora in July 2012. A shoulder injury had stopped him taking a fight with Tyson Fury and after surgery and reabilitaion he returned to knockout Australian Mark De Mori in January.
Mark De Mori froze on the night and Haye battered him in one, last night Gjergiaj did the same, both were limited and the step up to world level was a painful one for them both. – If you had watched Gjergjaj’s highlight video and read his impressive fight record of 29 fights undefeated with 21 wins by KO, you may have thought he would come to give it a go? But his padded record was built up at a lower level on the Switzerland fight circuit and he was way from his depth against Haye.
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Haye’s movement, punch speed and power bamboozled Gjergjaj and he went into his shell and on his arse three times, before the referee Terry O’Connor stopped it at one minute and 35 seconds into the second, for his 26th career stoppage.
What did we learn about Haye? He looked in good shape, fluid in his movement and fast, and the power is still there in abundance. But Gjergjaj was poor and nobody is trying to kid anyone, Haye didn’t have to really break a sweat and didn’t take a shot of any note. We know Haye is a world class heavyweight and on his day has a chance against any fighter in the world. It seems the shoulder injury has cleared up fully and next he will face veteran American Mr ‘Let’s go Champ’ himself, Shannon Briggs in September.
There was and has been a lot of criticism aimed at Haye after the fight. The opponent, the production of the show, that was aired on Comedy channel Dave, and the seemingly pre-meditated meeting with Briggs. Yes the opponent was limited and yes the Haye-Briggs thing does seem a little bit staged and WWE, but the fact that Haye has took charge of his own career, promotes himself, sells-out the O2 Arena, and secured a deal to have the shows broadcast live on popular Sky channel Dave, shows he is a self motivated, shrewd man and deserves credit for being pro active and doing things his way.
Ok, the production of the show left a lot to be desired and the hardcore fan generally, was damning of the way it was presented. The film and audio were a second out of sync and the commentators and hosts did their best to keep things running smooth, but it looked difficult for them at times. It all seemed a bit acted as if we were being forced into believing something was better than it was. I think when boxing fans are watching boxing being analysed, they want proper boxing people doing it.
But respect Dave for giving boxing a chance, and for Haye breaking the status-quo and trying something different, and they can only improve! – But what cannot be tolerated by the boxing fan is blatant mismatches, Haye needs to build a good undercard for his future shows and make it more about the boxing.
The fight Haye is chasing ultimately is against fellow Londoner Anthony Joshua who holds the IBF world heavyweight championship belt. It would be a hugh fight, and one Haye would relish and be confident of winning. If Haye defeats the 44-year-old Briggs, who stopped Argentina’s Emilio Ezequiel Zarate in a round on the undercard, he will likely get his chance against Joshua sometime next year. If that fight stalls, Haye may try and tempt WBA and WBO champion Tyson Fury to fight him, although after two failed attempts to make a fight before, Fury said he would never fight Haye, but if the offer is good enough, you never know!
Haye spoke afterwards about his latest win and about taking on Briggs next, who he says is the biggest fight out there for him at the moment. “Outside of the reigning world champions, I can’t think of a bigger fight than for me to meet Shannon Briggs,” said Haye.
“When I walk down the street people are saying that I should fight Briggs because he is in the papers a lot and he he has come here and is going to fights shouting and screaming. It will be a big fight and I will be meeting with his people about it on Monday.
“He has come over to England and talked a big game. We’re on a collision course. I told Briggs that if he came over here and beat somebody, I would fight him in September.”
Speaking about a potential clash with Joshua, Haye added: “Anthony Joshua is a fight I would relish. But next up is Briggs. Let’s go chump.”
“The ideal situation is then a big, all-British heavyweight clash with Anthony Joshua next year,’ he said.
“I saw Anthony at an awards ceremony and congratulated him on winning the IBF world title and said if we keep winning we will have a big fight. It’s the fight everyone wants and it’s all about next year at the moment. He’s a 16-fight novice so let him get more fights under his belt.”
Haye is one of the most naturally gifted boxers the British fight game has produced and his achievements speak for themselves. Credit to him for re-building his career and his brand. Getting himself fit after the long road to recovery from shoulder surgery and for resurrecting his boxing career. – Haye’s profile was dent a blow when he pulled out of two fights with current champion Tyson Fury a few years ago and fans haven’t forgotten that. – But if he can get past Briggs, the landscape after that will be interesting and Fury or Joshua could be a reality as could American Deontay Wilder who holds the WBC belt. – Hayes return has added an extra buzz to an heavyweight division that is in better shape than it’s been for many years.