David Haye, David Haye, David Haye… say his name often enough and he reappears like Beetlejuice.
Whether you liken him to a bad smell that won’t go away or a charismatic rogue you have missed, there is an argument that boxing, particularly British boxing, is worse off without him.
The Londoner fuelled further speculation when telling The Daily Mail last week: “Yes, you will see me back in the ring. I’m just surveying the land at the moment and seeing what’s happening out there. I think a great route would be to go to America and try to navigate a way to the WBC title. I’m probably a year or 18 months away from being in a mandatory position to fight him.”
Haye, who turns 35 in October, has been missing from the ring for nearly three years since his fifth round TKO victory against an overmatched Dereck Chisora in 2012. The Munich prelude of “He glassed me!” to that fight is gone but not forgotten, as are the two cancelled fights against Tyson Fury which put the latter and many a fan out of pocket due to injuries suffered by Haye.
For every admirer of ‘The Hayemaker’ there is a punter who sees him as nothing more than a salesman, a smile with a false promise, a man whose own self-worth has gotten the better of him. Which is a shame because from 2002 to 2008 he was a box-office attraction that had you on the edge of your seat and his opponents on the floor, and always possessed a firework called vulnerability. From his educational fight against Carl Thompson; to the sensational one round KO of Alexander Gurov; to chopping down the French resistance of Jean Marc-Mormeck; to the massacre of Enzo Maccarinelli, Haye was a cruiserweight colossus with looks, ability, charm and a ‘Hayemaker’ that was one of the hardest punches in world boxing at the time.
His marmite personality ventured to heavyweight, which in turn, took on characters of its own. The wild one against Monte Barrett; the brilliant one against Nikolay Valuev; the methodical one against John Ruiz; the ruthless one against Audley Harrison; the shambolic one against Wladimir Klitschko, and the unforgiving one against Dereck Chisora.
Haye had always said it was his dream to become heavyweight champion of the world but the path he took was one which virtually guaranteed it wouldn’t happen. The deplorable incident in Germany with Chisora. The shame and ridicule of ‘toe-gate’ when all we wanted was to forget that Klitschko vs Haye ever happened. Now he believes this final chapter, should he return, is one of a new beginning.
At this point, why should anyone care?
If David Haye’s career was put on trial, there are those who would want it sentenced to oblivion. But there are people, like me, who retain the belief that if Haye is truly serious about a return and fighting for the WBC world heavyweight title, then I for one am more than happy to roll the dice and take my chances.
The sport wouldn’t shed a tear should he never return but with Mayweather and Pacquiao’s careers edging closer to a greatest fights collection, we need as many ‘stars’ and ‘entertainers’ as possible. We need people who take the religious fans and the once-a-month fans and brings them together to create a major event. Gennady Golovkin, Sergey Kovalev, Carl Froch, Amir Khan…. there aren’t many more. David Haye can put himself into that mix but everything, and I do mean everything, will have to be perfect.
“The Hayemaker” has long had aspirations to be a movie star and his career reminds me of a movie franchise that refuses to go away. The original was raw, the sequel was thrilling, the third failed to deliver. The fourth doesn’t have a full production team in place just yet, but once the story is set it will damn sure put butts in seats. It will either be a failure of such magnitude that it confines Haye’s time at cruiserweight to a memory where we wonder if it ever really happened, or it will resuscitate a fading career with an astonishing Hollywood ending. — Shaun Brown