Alan Dawson – London
Former world champion David Haye relinquished his WBA title to Wladimir Klitschko as the towering Ukrainian defeated the timid Englishman in a one-sided contest on Saturday, July 2 at Germany’s Imtech Arena. Haye is hoping to avenge the decision loss by calling for an immediate rematch but, considering his performance, should he be forced to fight for that right?
“I’ve set my retirement for three months’ time, so I’m going to have to think hard and think fast about what I’m going to do,” Haye informed Sky Sports following his second professional loss. “It’s not ideal to go out on a loss, I’d like to get a rematch – but I’m not holding my breath. He’s not the sort of guy to go back into a dangerous fight, where he was hurt and I wasn’t 100 percent.”
Haye (25-2-0, 23ko) has fought five times in boxing’s premier division. His debut in the weight class was against Monte Barrett, a fifth round technical knockout victory in 2008. Haye’s cruiserweight pedigree and his incessent motor-mouthing paved the way to an unheard of world title shot in just his second fight at heavyweight, against Nikolai Valuev; a man who had a nine inch height advantage and 99lb weight advantage over Haye yet slumped to a decision defeat.
Haye became the WBA champion and following a mandatory fight against John Ruiz and a voluntary defence versus Audley Harrison – neither of whom were considered to be in the top tier of heavyweight contenders – team Hayemaker finally believed he was ready for the consensus number one and pound-for-pound climber Wladimir Klitschko.
“He’s a great fighter and a good guy and he did what he needed to win, so hats off to him,” added Haye, who wants to retire before he turns 31 on October 13. “A rematch would be the perfect fight. I’d like to go out as unified champ, ever since I won the heavyweight title that was my goal.”
There is no doubting Haye’s achievements at cruiserweight. In just his 21st and 22nd professional bout, he picked up three major world championships along with The Ring’s version of the world title because of his wins over Jean Marc Mormeck and Enzo Maccarinelli. He was fearless, feared and packed a power punch.
The same cannot be said of what we’ve seen from Haye in the heavyweight division. He has talked constantly… bad-mouthed his peers in the weight class yet has not backed up his trashing in the ring – where it counts. His performance against Wladimir was woeful. He boxed backwards and landed just six punches per round on average. The result was not a close one, he dropped a one-sided points decision to Wlad – is that worthy of a rematch? No.
Haye now has no bartering tools. He’s lost the WBA belt, his heavyweight record is a sham and his cruiserweight days are long behind him.
Legendary British boxing promoter Frank Warren told BBC Radio 5 Live earlier today, Sunday: “I think he [Haye] should retire. He’s got money in the bank so why does he need to fight on? He was a great cruiserweight but hasn’t got it at this [heavyweight] level.
“Valuev was one of the worst heavyweights and [Audley] Harrison was a non-fight. The contest against Klitschko was his first defining fight in this division and I don’t think he won a round. He got well beaten. He wasn’t in it and didn’t show up.”
This is an opinion shared by England’s affable former world champ Frank Bruno, who said: “I’m in no position to say that Haye should retire. He’ll be remembered as a very, very good cruiserweight. But heavyweight and cruiserweight are two different cups of tea. Harrods and Primark.”
If Haye does indeed want a rematch with Klitschko then he should by no means be allowed to get one straight away. For the first time in his heavyweight career he should be forced to work for it by taking on one or more of the legitimate contenders like Denis Boytsov, Aleksandr Povetkin, Ruslan Chagaev or Chris Arreola. But, judging from his punch output from Saturday night (more detail found here), he may not want to further risk his reputation against a game quartet who have just three losses between them.