De Mori seeks to derail Haye

Shaun Brown
12/01/2016 11:59am

Fighters can be a coy bunch of individuals when discussing a pre-fight gameplan. “I don’t want to give too much away…”A traditional quote from a boxer who, rightly, will reveal his hand(s) on fight night and not to a writer who is looking for an easy headline. Then there are men like Mark De Mori. The Croatian-based Australian heavyweight, who recently signed with Warrior’s Boxing in America, who knows exactly what he has to do to beat David Haye this Saturday night (16 January) and didn’t even hesitate when it came to sharing. “I’ve got to take a risk approach which is to engage,” De Mori told Boxing Monthly. “I know he wants me to run in so he can counter punch, but I’m not tall enough to sit back and use my jab so there’s no secrets about my fight plan. I’m just going to go in there and let my bombs fly.”

There is everything to gain for De Mori, this weekend at London’s O2 Arena, and everything to lose for Haye. Despite his three-and-a-half years away from the ring, Haye is still an overwhelming favourite at 1/25 with one particular bookmaker. On paper, the night belongs to him. The majority of viewers watching on television and those in attendance are looking to see what the Brit has left and hoping he can reintroduce himself in an explosive manner to the heavyweight division.

Underdogs, historically have a habit of tearing down such hopes. “There’s a script here that says Haye makes a comeback and moves on to bigger and better things,” said the articulate Aussie.

“That’s what they’re expecting and it’s just truly up to me to change that. I’m built like a pitbull and that’s the way I’m going to fight.

“No matter if it was my first amateur fight or my first pro fight, once the bell goes I respond to whatever people believe with hard power. I’m not here to lay down. I’m not here to pick up a pay packet. I’m not here to do a Kevin Johnson and block shots for 12 rounds and go home. I’m here to put it all on the line because it’s the biggest fight of my life. I’ve got very explosive powerful punches and that can change any script.”

The biggest fight of his life was born, as is so often is the case nowadays, on Twitter. A social media rant about David Haye that brought a phone call to his management and the possibility of sending a former two-weight world champion into permanent retirement.

Opportunities have come and gone for De Mori (30-1-2, 26 KOs) in the recent past. His name was brought up during speculation of a potential Haye comeback in 2015, but nothing came of it. He was sat ringside with Don King for the WBC heavyweight title fight between Bermane Stiverne and eventual winner Deontay Wilder this time last year. De Mori was supposed to fight the victor but the new champion’s team changed their mind at the last minute in favour of a fight against Eric Molina in June.

“This is everything for me,” said De Mori who has a top 10 ranking with the WBA. “If I lose this fight people will say, ‘Oh well you had a go’ but if Haye loses this fight it’s his team, it’s his crowd, it’s his everything. The pressure’s on him.”

The pressure is on Haye (26-2, 24 KOs) to perform and thanks to a history of withdrawing from fights due to injury there has been worry that ‘The Hayemaker’ might not make it to fight night on 16 January. As we enter fight week those fears appear to be at ease. De Mori, however, wasn’t taking any chances when it came to the fight contract.

“We have it stated in the contract there are certain penalties if the fight doesn’t go ahead,” De Mori revealed to BM. “If I didn’t take the fight because I thought he’d pull out, and he fought, I’d miss the greatest opportunity of my boxing career. He does have a history of pulling out and getting injured but there’s really no way I could refuse an offer like this because there’s a chance he could get injured. I’ve just got to take this opportunity and give everything. It’s the biggest of my life and one that may never come again.”