Haye, Let It Go Champs!


John Wharton

Where to start? So much to say and only an infinite number of words in which to sum it up. Last night at The O2 Arena, David Haye and Hayemaker Promotions served up a turgid, dull and ultimately embarrassing affair.

If anyone is in any doubt as to how serious Haye is about his comeback, all you need to do is to look at his choice of broadcaster for his comeback ‘bouts’. Dave is ‘top bantz’. Dave is recycled comedy from fifteen years ago. Have you missed series three, episode five of Red Dwarf? Watch for long enough and no doubt Dave will screen it. ‘Unlucky’ enough to have missed Russell Howard’s latest comedy bore-fest? Then without a doubt, Dave will televise it within the next few days.

Ironically, the most original comedy ever served up on Dave has been their broadcast of Haye’s shows. The preposterous decision to show Markham v Mullender on delay led to the farcical situation of Frank Buglioni having to ‘predict’ the outcome of a bout that had already been fought. Naturally, Frank was uncannily accurate with his prediction.

The first live bout of the night was former white collar boxer and nightclub entrepreneur Joe Fournier, squared off against the usual hapless Hungarian import in Bela Juhasz. The man from Hounslow, who is now based in Miami Beach looked resplendent in his turquoise and black outfit, while his ill-fated opponent wore what appeared to be borrowed shorts and looked a rabbit in the headlights before the bout.

It was to no-one’s surprise that Juhasz was stopped. Fournier won his fight but I doubt we’ll see him fight at a higher standard because the first time he steps up to any decent level, he loses. The nightclub owner may well be a nice person, and fulfilling his lifelong dream, but for his fight to be screened on free to air TV was a smack in the face for British boxing fans.

Next up was another Circus sideshow. The long career of Shannon Briggs wheezed asthmatically to another win, as he stopped the worst Argentinian since Madonna appeared as Evita, in Emilio Ezequiel Zarate. The Buenos Aires native was floored with the first punch from the New Yorker and for the next two minutes, he was in survival mode. Unfortunately, his survival ability mirrored his boxing ability, and he was eventually counted out from a body shot.

Briggs is a man who has come back from a terrible time in his life and admitted himself that boxing is his life raft. Fighting the likes of Zarate, Michael Marron and Zoltan Petranyi has seen him extend his career while padding out his record.

The former champion resurrected his career performing a series of bizarre stunts where he appeared to be stalking former champion Wladimir Klitschko and just stopping short of assaulting him. Indeed, we saw the two so often together that I wouldn’t have been surprised if Briggs had been the man who handed the Ukrainian fighter his towel after his morning shower.

Boxing is supposed to protect those who are no longer capable of defending themselves, and while the American is more than capable of defeating the likes of Zarate, he could be hurt when he steps into the ring against anybody of a decent standard. Briggs has coined the catchy slogan ‘Let’s go champ’, more fitting would be ‘Let it go champ.’

Where to begin with David Haye. Undoubtedly the best Cruiserweight Britain has ever produced and a former world heavyweight champion. The man who, if we’re being honest, is responsible for the utter claptrap we’ve been served. Haye is a bright man who no doubt is laughing all the way to the bank with the deal on the channel that bears his name.

The fight with De Mori was forgiveable after a four-and-a-half-year hiatus but, again, the card that night was, if we are being generous, less than acceptable. Somehow, Haye managed to make the step down in quality and by fighting Arnold Gjergjaj we learned nothing about what Haye has to offer. The Swiss fighter was decked early in the first and twice more in round two before referee Terry O’Connor saved us all from further punishment.

In his post-fight interview, the Londoner announced that he will indeed be fighting Shannon Briggs in September, the crowd yawned, I switched over to watch something a lot less funny, and the David Haye freakshow rolls on.

Non boxing fans who watched the show were left bemused and us boxing fans were left trying to defend the sport. Sometimes the fight game doesn’t help itself. We can only hope that Briggs or Haye suffer some form of non-serious injury that will lead to the postponement and eventual abandonment of the fight. If Haye is serious about facing Joshua and Fury, and being honest I have my doubts, then he needs to up the quality and get himself involved with some serious competition.

All in all, the two Dave’s didn’t come out of this well at all. For Dave the broadcaster, the amateurish set-up and the breakdown in synching between audio and video reflected poorly, and the commentary team of McIntosh and Barker was one to rival Watt and Halling but not in a good way. As for Dave the fighter, he allows his reputation to slip further and his relevance to the sport now matches that of Live TV.

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