Behind the new heavyweight champion
WBA champ David Haye plans on making some noise
Report by Francisco Salazar
Photos by Chris Cozzone
David Haye’s mouth and punching power may have been too much for the cruiserweight division.
When he announced that he was moving up to the heavyweight, few took him serious about being a major playmaker in the division.
Now that he has a portion of the heavyweight world title - the WBA belt - Haye can not help but call out top fighters in the division.
Are there any takers? Anyone?
Haye hopes that the Klitschko brothers will answer his call.
Haye met with the media prior to the Manny Pacquiao-Miguel Cotto showdown on Saturday to reflect on the heavyweight division, which he feels he is at, or near, the top.
Big words from a fighter with big hands in a division that does not have a big standout fighter.
Haye did his best to sell himself as the next big heavyweight champion; a fighter who is willing to make big fights and is not shy about the current status of the division.
“Boxing has a new heavyweight champion of the world,” said Haye, who defeated Nicolay Valuev in Nuremburg, Germany. “I’m a champion that not only England, but the rest of the world can embrace.”
He has been embraced all right. Golden Boy Promotions promotes Haye & were there at the luncheon to present Haye with the WBA title, which was presented by president of Golden Boy Promotions' Oscar De La Hoya.
“This is the real heavyweight champion of the world,” beamed De La Hoya, as he placed the title belt around the waist of Haye.
November 7th was a historic and magical evening for Haye as he dethroned Valuev, using his speed and aggressiveness to outbox Valuev. What was surprising was that he had hurt his right hand early in the fight and the awkward style of the seven-foot Valuev.
“I hit him on top of the head and that’s when I realized I had hurt it,” said the three-time Cruiserweight champion of the world. “I tried to use it as sparingly as possible or not to hit him on top of his head. I must admit that it was difficult to box a fighter that big, but I was destined to be Heavyweight champion of the world.”
Although Haye felt he had done enough to win the fight, he was nervous when one judge scored the bout even as the scorecard was being announced.
“I really could not see how a judge had him winning the fight. I was landing the cleaner and more effective punches. I showed that I can make adjustments and I could change my gameplan.”
Now De La Hoya and Haye hope that the title belt stays around the waist of Haye after his next bout. Haye is scheduled to make a mandatory title defense against John Ruiz in England.
Although some question whether Ruiz deservedly should receive another opportunity at a title, Haye is up to the challenge. He expects Ruiz’ best when both square off.
“Ruiz will be my toughest opponent to date. He is a threat. He is not a brilliant fighter, but his style is effective and is good at a lot of things. He has good stamina and a good chin.”
Although he knows his next fight is with Ruiz, Haye could not help himself from talking about the Klitschko brothers. Haye made headlines by backing out of a fight with Wladimir Klitschko because of an injury. A scheduled bout with Vitaly Klitschko was finalized, but Haye abruptly backed out.
Both Haye and Klitschko gave different versions of what happened. What followed were Haye’s verbal attacks on the Klitschko brothers that promoted Klitschko’s people to state that they would not do business with Haye.
Haye is undeterred and is sure that one of the brothers will sign on to fight him.
“I am confident that money will always bring them to the table. I was not scared to fight Valuev in Germany. I am more than willing to fight either Wladimir or Vitaly in Germany.”
Many factors could motivate fighters to do their best. For Haye, it was his defeat at the hands of Carl Thompson over five years ago in 2004. It is Haye’s only defeat as a professional and hopefully his last.
Since that night in London, Haye has won 13 bouts in a row, stopping 11 of those opponents.
“Without that loss, I would not be here today. That defeat drives me to get better. I know that after my first 10 bouts, I had lost my hunger as a fighter. It’s fresh on my mind.”
Haye may be a controversial figure outside of the ring, but inside he has earned the respect of most fellow fighters and fans.
He does not lack confidence or bravado in the ring. Against Valuev, he proved that he belongs among the elite of the heavyweight division.
Whether a fight with either Klitschko brother materializes or not, Haye has reached his goal of being a world champion. Now, he wants to leave his legacy on the sport and hopes to stick around a long time.
“I want people to say about me that he is an athlete and a great fighter who was willing to fight the division’s best.”