Friday 15 December 2017

Boxing: Haye seeks respect with Klitschko clash

Steve Bunce

DAVID HAYE will fight Wladimir Klitschko next April or May for a purse in excess of £20m in a fight that is possibly the only salvation for the sport's heavyweight division after this latest disaster.

On Saturday night just under 20,000 people watched the very public humiliation of fallen idol Audley Harrison at the MEN Arena in Manchester, as Haye's fists finally ended the tragic spectacle after 1min 53secs of the third round -- the last of Harrison's career.

It was not an unexpected outcome to the World Boxing Association championship as the sorry fight unfolded like a slow and inevitable execution, with Harrison once again unable to overcome his fears and deliver on any of his words.

Harrison left the ring immediately after the debacle was over to chants of: "You're s**t and you know you are."

It was, admittedly, a disgraceful effort by a challenger in a title fight but, at the same time, it was impossible not to feel a huge degree of sadness for the 2000 Olympic champion as he walked away surrounded by his devoted family. As final, ignominious exits go it will take some beating.

Haye never wasted a single punch, and ignored the sell-out crowd's boos for two rounds before ending the fight with his first attack.


It needs to be pointed out that bigger mismatches involving greats like Joe Louis, Muhammad Ali, Lennox Lewis and Joe Frazier have hurt the sport in the past, but this fight was under an unusually heavy degree of scrutiny at a time when the heavyweight division so desperately needs a hero.

However, when Ali, Lewis, Frazier and Louis met bums, it was established that at some point very soon after their callous adventures they would have a real fight, and that is what separates modern boxing from its glorious history.

"I knew it would be the third round," said Haye. "I promised to get rid of Audley to help the public out and that is what I have done. Now it is Klitschko time and we are getting closer to doing a deal; it will be done."

A deal was done last year for Haye to fight Wladimir Klitschko, the younger of the two towering Ukrainians who hold versions of the world heavyweight title (the other being Vitali), but it collapsed and instead Haye won the WBA belt.

Haye was due to make about £1m last June and had agreed to surrender three options to get the chance -- conveniently neglected by people when they accuse Haye of running scared.

It's a dishonoured boxing tradition for fighters to avoid each other until they are forced to the table -- it is not an invention of Haye and other modern champions.

Now Haye and his trainer and business partner, Adam Booth, can sit down with the Klitschkos and their manager Bernd Boente and reach an agreement for a fight that will generate a small fortune -- and should reward both boxers with millions more than last year's failed outing. (© Independent News Service)

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