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15 NOVEMBER 2018


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David Haye: This Generation’s Evander Holyfield?

Haye to emulate Holyfield?: Tom Casino/Showtime
Haye to emulate Holyfield?: Tom Casino/Showtime

By Matthew Hurley: He’s brash, he’s exciting to watch and now that he’s entered the heavyweight ranks he’s potentially vulnerable. That vulnerability coupled with his hard-hitting, take-no-prisoners style has made David ‘The Hayemaker’ Haye a welcome addition to a division desperate for someone to shake things up.

The former undisputed cruiserweight champion, two fights into his heavyweight foray, is also one of the better trash talkers in the game. It’s a conceit that has either enthused or alienated boxing fans, and that’s just the way David Haye wants it. He’s not a quiet man carrying a big stick. He’s a man so convinced of his abilities that he feels it warrants a big mouth and he knows that one of the countless things missing from this stale heavyweight era are sound bites that intrigue or enrage the boxing public. Haye understands that he is his best publicist and as long as he fights in a style embraced by the fan who leans more toward blood lust than technical precision he has the potential to not only straighten up the current heavyweight mess but also become a very big star.

Or, one powerful right hand from belt holder Wladimir Klitschko could shut his mouth for good and end his dream of being the next Evander Holyfield. And, believe it or not, David Haye is fine with that.

“(The fans) enjoy toe-to-toe slugfests,” he said recently in a Ring Magazine interview with Brian Doogan. “And I like to entertain and give the people what they want.”

As for what he sees for himself in the coming months Haye envisions a firefight with either Wladimir or his brother Vitali Klitschko – eventually he’d like to do away with both of them. (It now looks as though it will be Wladimir first, possibly in June.) When the dust settles the loquacious fighter from London sees himself as the logical heir to the last great heavyweight, Lennox Lewis.

“Heavyweight boxing has been in the doldrums and it’s about time it got sprinkled with some stardust again,” he says. “Both America and Britain have been starved for a good domestic heavyweight since the Lennox Lewis-Evander Holyfield-Riddick Bowe era and my aim is to restore some of that luster that has been lost.”

It is Holyfield who Haye most readily identifies with. Both men conquered the cruiserweights before entering the heavyweight division and both were criticized by many as being undersized and viewed as eventual victims of the bigger men they would have to engage. Even when Holyfield beat the long odds stacked against him with successive victories over steadily improving competition until he annexed the title from Buster Douglas in 1990 he was still seen as a man holding onto the titles until Mike Tyson returned from a prison sentence to reclaim what was rightfully his.

Then Evander fought a fight for the ages against Riddick Bowe, losing his titles but finally gaining the respect of the boxing world with a Herculean effort against a man over twenty pounds heavier than he. Holyfield’s career trajectory would go up and down, reaching dizzying heights with his knockout of Tyson in 1996 along with several other significant victories until the wear and tear of being the smaller man and fighting with his heart on his sleeve finally caught up to him. Despite fighting on as a shell of his former self his legacy is secure. It’s a legacy David Haye would like to approach.

It remains to be seen what path Haye will travel but if his bout with journeyman heavyweight Monte Barrett is any indication it should be compelling no matter how it ends up. Haye knocked Barrett out in the fifth round of an entertaining scrap, but he also hit the canvas. He was quick to admit that Barrett’s jab felt like a right hand thrown by a cruiserweight.

“He buzzed me a couple of times in the fight but I need these types of fights to become more disciplined.”

Discipline will most likely pose a problem down the road because, simply put, David loves to throw down. It comes naturally to him when things get heated up. That potential liability, along with his questionable chin, which he also acknowledges, was on display for all to see against Barrett but he got the job done in exciting fashion. Still, those shaky whiskers could prove to be his undoing against the heavy hitters of the division, namely Wladimir and Vitali Klitschko.

But David Haye expresses no reservations about what lies ahead. In a blog entry on his MySpace page he says, “In June 2009 I will become heavyweight champion of the world. By the end of 2009, both Klitschkos will be dethroned by ‘The Hayemaker’.

And that’s what intrigues fans about this current undersized heavyweight who insists he can knock out anyone in the division. No matter the outcome, it will be exciting and that’s just what the heavyweight division needs.

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