On 2nd July 2011 at the Imtech Arena in Hamburg we saw a boxer who put in possibly the worst performance of his career. What followed WAS the worst excuse in his career. Writes Ashley McNamara…
Overwhelmed, outclassed and outwitted by a defensive giant; he proclaimed that it was the breaking of his little toe in camp prior to the fight being the reason for his downfall. This was not the David Haye that I’d followed from early on in his career. Not performance wise and definitely not post-fight.
Many ridiculed him for that excuse and you can see why. Many also claimed that he had no heart. Many had only followed him since his jump to Heavyweight though, thus, only joining the ride in the latter part of his career.
Back in 2004 — in his 11th pro fight — he was stopped by his corner against Carl ‘The Cat’ Thompson, resulting in his first defeat. Haye, who was completely gassed by the fifth round, was stopped on his feet whilst throwing a punch in the process. Just under two years later and the ‘Hayemaker’ was fighting at York Hall defending his European Cruiserweight title against Giacobbe Fragomeni — the Italian would later become WBC Cruiserweight Champion. After suffering a horrific cut in the seventh round — thus not being able to see out of his left eye — he ended the fight two rounds later by TKO, both bouts were hardly reminiscent of someone with no heart or guts.
You could also point to times when he’s been knocked down by Lolenga Mock, Jean-Marc Mormeck and Monte Barrett — and came back to win — to know that he is capable of being hurt and displaying the grit needed to come out victorious. The Mormeck victory was also his best night, in my opinion, as he got off the canvas to win the WBA, WBC and The Ring Cruiserweight titles on enemy territory.
Fast forward to the O2 arena this past Saturday night Vs Tony Bellew and the Bermondsey fighter showed the masses what he was about. I was at the arena and almost immediately could tell this wasn’t the David Haye of old, far from it. Missing wildly with punches — and looking far less mobile than he’s ever been — I feared the worst. The self-proclaimed ‘Hayemaker 2.0’ looked more like ‘Hayemaker 0.5’. Sure he tired more than you’d expect by the middle rounds but this reminded me of when Ricky Hatton stepped back between the ropes after a long lay-off.
On that fateful night in 2012 — also fighting in his hometown, Manchester — fans witnessed the end of the ‘Hitman’ in a way no-one would’ve thought possible. I think London has just witnessed the end of another former two-weight World Champion. And in similar circumstances, no-one thought it would end this way.
After fighting competently for the first five rounds, Haye snapped his Achilles tendon in the sixth and — whilst putting up a fight for the remaining five rounds — his corner threw in the towel, surely signalling the end of his career. It was a brave and heroic effort for him to carry on and one which has now shown to any doubters that thought he wasn’t a warrior, he clearly is, when needing to be. Haye 1.0 wouldn’t have needed to go five rounds, though.
The 36-year-old has never shied away from promoting himself in a way that generates negative publicity. But when he’s in the ring, he’s been one of our finest products from these shores. Whether you like him or not, he’s the only Briton to unify the Cruiserweight division and is only second to Evander Holyfield in moving up and winning a world title in the Heavyweight division. The old David Haye was a major force and a threat to anyone in boxing. The new one is clearly not and needs to call it a day.
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