Wake Me Up When The Fight Starts

by Deqlan Blaque

Right now the easiest thing in boxing is to write off David Haye as a loudly spoken wannabe, talentless and ultimately, and perhaps even he might nurse similar thoughts over his recent loss, a fraud as well.

Only Haye will know, but very easy to do really. For all the hype generated by the build up to his recent fight in Hamburg Germany the Londoner delivered nothing on the night that suggested he was ‘within cooee’ of achieving his much vaunted orations. This wasn’t a man who could end the Ukrainian dynasty, he wasn’t in the same arena, or even car park; hell this guy was almost in another paradigm. If boxing and all those associated with it either as fans or support and administration was blue then Haye was green, and we all know the rule related those colors.

We’ll return soon enough to this thought, but for now “Wake me when the fight starts”. In the very first round I noted that ‘there was no shortage of movement. Both guys are boxing, but Haye is actually doing nothing. We all knew Klitschko’s game plan and the onus was on Haye to take it away. Everyone from Stonehenge in the UK to the Palisades in New York understood that Haye had to get on the inside, despite the nonsense notion of a haymaker, and from underneath Klitschko’s guard chop down the taller man.

Hbo’s Larry merchant has seen it all and along the way while clearly bored and looking for some ‘color’ to liven up the broadcast reminisced over a good little man against a big one. Citing Dempsey vs. Willard and more recently Michael Spinks and Larry Holmes he opined that as a smaller guy you had to do ‘something’. Haye inexplicably chose not to.

Merchants color was increasingly and correctly derogatory when trying to assess the WBA champs performance. At one time Roy Jone’s jnr called “he’s not wasting his punches” triggering a lovely retort from the senior Hbo commentator, “yeah, but he’s wasting my time”. It got a nice laugh in the commentary box and also here at darktrunk as we watched the fight on replay from an undisclosed source. Later he chimed in with ‘he bobs and weaves and makes faces but doesn’t punch, you gotta punch, he talked big, dreamed big but he ain’t fighting big’.

As each round passed by one sensed the fight, somewhat like Haye’s propensity to just fall down onto the canvas, becoming more of a flop. Things had gotten so bad that at the end of the 10th with two to go ‘Old Larry mouthed that he had to do something in the last round. Reminded by Jones that there were two rounds to go you could feel the frustration and boredom from the media hosts ringside position.

The Hbo team weren’t the only ones bored with proceedings. But with the fight over and decision announced then it’s time to make some comments on what happened afterwards and where to go from this point on. My first reaction to the ‘toe-gate’ affair was that Haye showed no effects of any toe injury. Throughout the bout he moved quite freely around the ring, not only freely but with speed and agility. Hayes’s defeat didn’t come via a defence or a damaged toe not standing up to the task. It came from having no attacking enterprise and this is where I would like to leap off into what possible pathways he could track down to atone for such a bad showing.

Presently Haye has already stated he’d retire later in 2011 at around the time of his 31st birthday. Young people shoot off their mouths as readily as might suicide bombers detonate themselves. This is a given and Haye’s comments were always made with his self belief that he would have unified the Heavyweight division with one champ. So he could stick to that and move into another stage of his life and then that’s the last we’d hear of him as a competitor in boxing. There would be no shame in that. If he felt he could live with that then it would be a perfectly normal and perhaps wise career choice.

The cocky heavyweight novice, having been exposed though has already claimed after the fight that he doesn’t feel retiring and going out a loser will sit comfortably within him. An equally ‘perfectly normal’ scenario, especially from a fighter still young and who also commands developed boxing skills. If the pricking of his ego and pride is consistent enough then perhaps we’d easily see him reschedule his earlier promise. This would be unsurprising and I’m sure that it wouldn’t trouble too many people, but that what would trouble too many people would be doing so but without capitalizing on the lessons he should clearly have learned.

At this point I feel there are several factors working in Haye’s advantage principally being his fitness and his boxing skill. Haye showed that there is a clear way to get past the Klitschkos as did for a few short moments until injured against Vitali Klitschko Orlandier Solis. Both Doctors are susceptible to the modern style of boxing known as the ‘in and out’ style. Solis got in on the elder Klitschko, while Haye just stayed out, but if as has been exposed by Manny Pacquiao in recent years, a smaller man wants to combine both elements then the lumbering Ukrainians, as good as they are would be much more prone to defeat.

The point here is that first up Haye’s experience at the heavyweight level has been too brief and he hasn’t had the fights under his belt in developing from a cruiserweight into a heavyweight. I’m going to make a lot of enemies here but I’d bet good money on the notion that Haye would vastly improve with both a new manager and trainer and of course more commitment to fighting at the heavyweight level. Personally if I were Haye I’d be very annoyed by the comment that his trainer made about him really being a cruiserweight. If that were the case then “what the hell was he doing there in the first place”? I believe his weight was around 215 pounds. That’s a heavyweight and he didn’t look blown up in being at that size.

Haye wants destiny, his ego clamors it and why shouldn’t it? Trouble is and unlike Ricky Hatton he will benefit only by getting committed training and obviously although I’m reluctant to say it that that may only come from either Freddie Roach or a Freddie Roach style coach who can actually teach his boxer a strategy that simultaneously involves defence and attack.

First up Hatton’s decision to leave his long time trainer Billy Graham was probably symptomatic of his personal life’s derailment following the much hyped and then lost battle with Floyd Mayweather. Let’s leave that for another forum. Haye on the other hand showed nothing and allowed himself to be caught up in scenes post the fight with a guy who I’m wondering is working for David Haye’s development or just ‘along for the ride to stroke his own ego’. I write, I don’t know the people, and I’m a ways away, but I believe we saw a badly schooled fighter in Hamburg who was exposed as deficient in a game plan that maximized his boxing skills.

I mentioned Orlandier Solis before. Fast hands, very skillful, and like Haye poorly managed and controlled. His conditioning is appalling for a top heavyweight. He fought at 250 but should be much closer to Haye at 218. What I’m getting at here is that Haye has to ‘suck it up’ and rethink a two year map, one completely different than the last two years. Destiny is not getting 15 million to lose a challenge which everyone will have forgotten in 6 months, rather destiny is unifying the heavyweight division. Haye needs Solis as indeed Solis needs Haye, and then there’s also Arreola, or indeed Thomas Adamek, depending on what he does after his fight with the elder Klitschko.
To be heavyweight champion of the world you have to fight heavyweights, and you have to fight ranked heavyweights, alongside showing heart and courage after a setback and then coming on ‘with the vig’. For Haye right now, it’s retire, or re-school quick and get back on the saddle, or just stay with the same losing program he has now and probably even further sully his ‘legacy’.

Despite the soothsayers piercing the heart of heavyweight boxing with blood stained machetes there is in fact much to offer in the division; simply it needs those elite fighters to come up with more self belief than just hype or over eating or partying. And it needs them to do this with the right training that can maximize a strategy that can work at the heavier divisions as it does in the lighter divisions. The titles are there for the taking to a person with resolve. At the top are two credible but not great champions, one at 40 and the other closer to that than being younger by a decade. Both champions are wooden, but then wooden may be good enough with the physical attributes each has unless the challengers get on with the business of mapping out programs of development rather than delusional dreams. Is Haye going to let this thought be his legacy, or is he going to suck it up and come back stronger?

Deqlan Blaque