Be Careful What You Wish For David

Valuev vs. Hayes
Valuev vs. Hayes
By Clive Bernath: Two Clichés come immediately to mind when reading David Haye’s latest interview about his November 7 heavyweight title clash with giant WBA titleholder Nikolay Valuev-‘Be careful what you wish for’ and ‘Patience is a virtue’.

Over the last few weeks the 29 year-old heavyweight title challenger has publicly insulted the 7ft 2, 350lbs man mountain from Russia by calling him Ugly, a circus freak and many other choice names best forgotten.

Now, Haye believes all the taunting has paid off and Valuev will become so self obsessed with damaging the trash talking Englishman, he will play straight into Haye’s hands.

"I definitely feel I’ve got under his skin," said the former undisputed cruiserweight world champ. “The word coming out of his training camp in Germany is that he’s really motivated.

"He’s knocking all his sparring partners around and really wants to do a number on me. That’s great because I really want him to come out at me, swinging. The more aggressive he is, the better and I will be able to go to work with my counter-punches. So, so far, so good,” added Haye.

All the aforementioned may of course be bravado on the part of Haye as he attempts to convince himself he will go into the biggest fight of his life with a valuable physiological advantage. Having said that the 36 year-old champion is no fool, he is a very experienced operator, having won 50 of his 51 fights since turning professional in 1993 when Haye was just a 13 year-old schoolboy. Admittedly both Larry Donald and an aging Evander Holyfield arguably outscored him but did not get the decision but Valuev is a far better boxer and a more intelligent boxer than he is given credit for. So I can’t for one minute see Valuev falling for the oldest trick in the book. There is of course the huge height and weight difference as well.
Haye tried to rattle Wladimir Klitschko the same way before their proposed IBF title clash. The rumour coming out of the Klitschko camp was that Wladimir was so fired up and focused that he planned to punish Haye over a period of rounds rather than take him out quickly. And when he heard the fight was cancelled, Klitschko was visibly incensed that he was denied the opportunity to carry out his wish. If Valuev adopts the same strategy, Haye may well regret the day he adopted such tactics.

Many British boxing fans have bought into the hype which is a credit to Haye’s relentless marketing strategy and incredible self belief but the fact remains that Haye is a very inexperienced heavyweight and the extra pressure he has heaped upon himself by trash talking his way to a title fight may well leave him wishing he had treated the champion with a little more respect.

The other worry I have for Haye is that ever since he destroyed Enzo Maccarinelli inside two rounds in March 2008, he has been on a self imposed fast track to the heavyweight championship. Most cruiserweights moving up to heavyweight have at least half a dozen fights at the weight in order to settle into the division. If you look at Evander Holyfield’s record you will see that he fought six very experienced heavys including Michael Dokes, Pinklon Thomas and James Tillis before walking through Buster Douglas to claim the heavyweight title in 1990.

Haye was quoted this week as saying he fully understands that there are question marks over his heavyweight credentials and concerns about his lack of heavyweight rounds but the most alarming quote from him was."I know I’m going into this fight with a lot of question marks hanging over me at this level, but I just want to win the title as quickly as possible."

Haye may well prove a lot of people wrong on November 7 but one thing cruiserweights must do if they are to seriously challenge for the richest prize in sport is grow naturally into a heavyweight and that takes time. After all, Patience-as they say-is a virtue and Haye may do well to remember that.

October 27, 2009
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