David Haye Compete with the New Heavyweight Elite?
With less than a month to
go until his much-anticipated rematch with Tony Bellew, David Haye had
to pull out of the planned fight due to a “freak training injury”.
The bizarre injury in question reportedly
tear his bicep during a stair
conditioning session, but it’s the latest in a long line of injuries for
Haye, and something that has defined the latter part of his career.
Haye, 37, insists he wants to fight
Anthony Joshua, although admits he has to beat Tony Bellew before he
could be considered for such a fight.
It shouldn’t be forgotten what a good
fighter Haye was – if not is. He was WBO heavyweight champion of the
world until 2011, an impressive feat considering he had not long moved
up from the Cruiserweight division – which he had dominated – picking up
the WBA, WBC, WBO, The Ring and lineal titles.
His knockout record is also highly
impressive, with only two of his 28 career wins going the distance.
The trouble is, he is incredibly
injury-prone and has pulled out of multiple fights, and when he does
fight – as was the case with the first Bellew fight – he often sustains
an assortment of injuries, other than being punched in the head and
torso, of course.
Indeed, since losing his heavyweight
title to Wladimir Klitschko via decision in July 2011, Haye has fought
just four times.
Time Up for Haye?
It’s not just his injury record and
inactivity that creates doubts about Haye’s ability to continue
competing at the top level. Three months after the Bellew defeat, he
split with his trainer of three years, Shane McGuigan, with reports
claiming that McGuigan had urged Haye to retire – hence causing the
This isn’t to say Haye should necessarily
retire, as he is clearly still a talented fighter – although
injury-prone. The trouble is, even at the height of his pomp, he would
surely have struggled with a fighter boasting the size, speed and power
of 6’7 Anthony Joshua. Haye after all, isn’t a big heavyweight, standing
at 6’3, and typically weighs in about 30 pounds lighter than Joshua.
Sure, the appeal of a final big payday
against Joshua would be massive, but it’s simply a fight Haye couldn’t
Haye’s rematch with Bellew has been
rescheduled for May 5 in London, with Haye still the 4/9 favourite
sportsbet.io. For Haye’s career, the fight is simply a
must-win. But even is he does so, he will be very low down the pecking
order to face Joshua.
Fury the Answer?
If he truly does have his heart set on a
bout with Joshua, though, he needs to take on and beat one of Joshua’s
other contenders, the most interesting of which would probably be a
fight with compatriot, Tyson Fury.
Haye was actually slated to fight Fury
way back in September 2013, but – you guessed it – pulled out through
injury a week before the fight. The fight was then rescheduled for the
following February, before Haye again pulled out due to having shoulder
Unsurprisingly, Fury – who has recently
returned to the sport after a two-year layoff due to a mixture of mental
health issues and a drugs ban –
wasn’t happy with Haye’s excuses,
saying, "I'm absolutely furious, but in all honesty, this is exactly
what I expected. Everyone knows I was very suspicious when he pulled out
the first time and this confirms to me that he's always been afraid of
me and never wanted this fight."
Fury is also on the lookout for opponents
in 2017 ahead of a potential bout with Joshua, but Haye would clearly be
a risky option – in terms of him not making the fight. Nevertheless, it
would be an interesting fight – especially for the British public – if
it would be possible to get them both in the same ring. And with a prize
bout with Anthony Joshua likely awaiting the winner, it would also be
one that should interest both fighters desperate to get back to the top
of the heavyweight division.
The harsh truth is, though, and it may
not be what he wants to hear, that Haye is on his last of last chances
if he wants a title shot. It means he needs to not just beat Bellew, but
batter him. It means he needs to follow that up with a win against one
of the big guns of the division. It means he can’t pull out of any more
fights because of injury.