Analysing Haye vs. Harrison

The time for talking is over
The time for talking is over
By Clive Bernath: Even before the fight was officially announced the PR hype machines of camp David Haye and Audley Harrison were under starters orders and chomping at the bit to begin publicising the most eagerly awaited all British showdown since Nigel Benn and Chris Eubank clashed in the early 90’s.

Haye, who defends his WBA heavyweight crown for the second time at the MEN Arena in Manchester on Saturday, is a nailed on favourite with the bookies to defeat Harrison and rightly so. But the way in which the two one time best friends from London have traded insults over the last six weeks has captured the imagination of not only British boxing fans but also cross over sports fans in general. That’s the reason why this fight sold 22,000 tickets within hours of going on sale and come Saturday evening the British isles will shutdown for a couple of hours to watch the domestic battle of the year.

In analysing this match up what better way to start than focusing on the hype

As I mentioned earlier no other fight since the Benn vs Eubank days has captured the nation’s imagination quite like Haye vs Harrison. If I were to mention every single insult and accusation between the two I’d still be here when the fight has long since become a memory. Lets just say if the fight is half as entering as the build up then were in for a thriller.

Enough said. Lets talk about the fight and analyse the strengths and weaknesses of both fighters

Mindset and Willpower
David’s mental strength has rarely been in question. So far his sheer willpower to win has not let him down. Apart from caving in early in his career when losing to Carl Thompson, David has kept his nerve. He proved as much by destroying both Jean Marc Mormeck and Monte Barrett. In both fights he was floored heavily but managed to regain his composure, dig deep and win by stoppage. Haye is sometimes as vulnerable as he is exciting but he always finds a way to win.

In some ways Audley is equally strong minded and he does have this great self belief in ‘His Destiny’ Lets be honest six months ago if he said he’d be fighting David Haye for a version of the heavyweight title you would not have complained if the men in white coats came along and took him away. But the fact is he’s here and boxing for the title. And to knock Michael Sprott out in the final minute of a career ending fight he was losing does deserve some respect.

David’s obvious strength is his speed and punch power. The combination of the two makes for a powerful tool. The aforementioned coupled with his excellent counter punching make him very dangerous, especially against ponderous heavyweights like John Ruiz, who came forward in straight lines. Haye’s best assets worked perfectly against Ruiz.

Audley’s immense physical assets are his main strengths. At 6ft 6, a lean 250lb and possibly the longest reach in boxing make him a very difficult man to reach. Lets not forget he’s also light on his and moves well for such a big man. The left hand is also a very potent weapon of choice when he chooses to use it.
Haye’s main weakness, which is shared by many of his critics, is his chin. I’m not so sure David has a weak chin I just think like most big punchers he sometimes looks for the big punch and leaves his own chin exposed. I also think that part of the chin problem stems from his lack of stamina as a fight progresses. In many of David’s fights he fades in the middle rounds, his work rate drops and his attacks become few and far between. So far he has got away with it because his opponents have not been able to capitalise on this. If Harrison can get past the first five rounds, stay strong and stay unaffected by Haye’s bombs, David’s got a problem but more of that later.

Audley’s strengths are also his weakness. Very rarely does he use all his physical tools to the best of his ability. The Coleman Barrett, Martin Rogan and Dominick Guinn fights are just some examples.

We know both men can punch, especially Haye but both are primarily counter punchers which means if they both wait to get their punches off for too long in anticipation of the other making a mistake we could be in for a boring first few rounds.

Haye has of course fought on the bigger stage against better opponents but Audley’s amateur experience arguably even things up. I know that’s not an opinion shared by many but apart from the Mormeck and Nikolay Valuev fights, I don’t see a huge gap in experience.

Form guide
The form guide speaks for itself, With Haye having beaten Monte Barrett, Nikolay Valuev and John Ruiz, means Audley’s Prizefighter victories and the European title win over Michael Sprott pale into insignificance. Having said that, aside from the Ruiz win, neither fighter looked particularly impressive but on form there is only one winner .

Game Plan
Audley will have one game plan and if he wants to win it’s the only one. He needs to back Haye up with his jab, stand tall, use all his physical assets, lean on in close, rough up Haye and not allow him too much space and time to get his punches off. Haye is expected to come in lighter than when he fought John Ruiz in bid to get in close, unload his Haymakers and get out again.

The Fight
As I mentioned earlier if Harrison is to win he must capitalise on Haye’s weakness by taking him out of his comfort zone and not allowing him to control the pace of the fight early on and getting his punches off. But I see a long drawn out battle of wits early on. Both will sit back and wait for the other to make a mistake. The fans won’t like it one bit and Haye will be under pressure to take the fight to Audley. In doing so that’s when Audley could capitalise on any mistake and land his left hand honey punch. But the more likely scenario is Haye will be too fast and accurate for the defensive minded challenger. It may take a few more rounds than some people think but Haye will eventually break Harrison down from the middle rounds onwards and finish him off around the ninth or 10th round.

November 12, 2010
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