Haye returns to new heavyweight scene

Shaun Brown
08/01/2016 11:57am

David Haye (26-2, 24 KOs) may be in fighting shape for his comeback on 16 January but his career and his relationship with certain corners of the boxing public isn’t in the condition that it used to be.

A career threatening shoulder injury has been overcome, a new trainer (Shane McGuigan) is in place and ‘The Home of Witty Banter’ (Dave TV) has picked up the rights to his first fight in three-and-a-half years. Yes, ‘The Hayemaker’ is back. Three years older, the personality just as engaging and the confidence flowing as well as ever. 

In that time, however, we have witnessed the emergence of a heavyweight division reborn. There may not be an Ali, a Holmes or a Tyson but there is a pack of hungry wolves who have been let off the leash after a Ukrainian king was dethroned by a gypsy one. All while a man called Wilder fiercely protects a prize decorated in green.

Haye fights Mark De Mori (30-1, 26 KOs) at the O2 Arena, London, in the hope that he is still the wrecking ball he once was. Despite not wishing to look beyond the Croatian-based Aussie there is no doubt that something of a 12-month plan is in place at Haye HQ. 

“All I can do is focus on this one guy and not look too far into the future. It’s bad luck to do so, to plan out too far ahead,” Haye told Boxing Monthly.

“If I stick to the schedule I’ve got in my head, I’ll have three fights, three spectacular wins and I’ll be knocking on the door for titles and eliminators. Maybe there might be a champion who might want a big payday and put something on the table. The complexion could be completely different at that time.”

Eliminators, final eliminators and a shot at who is heavyweight champion is what the former WBA heavyweight belt holder wants.

It could be an abundance of highs for Haye should he recapture a large percentage of the performance that used to light up the eyes of many a boxing fan from his days as a cruiserweight. From ‘The Cat’ Carl Thompson to ‘Del Boy’ Dereck Chisora there has always been something of a must-see about Haye. A hard-hitting crossover star who always possessed that box-office vulnerability of being put on his backside.

There are those, as mentioned earlier, who have no interest in seeing him fight again. Those who paid money to see him fight against the likes of Tyson Fury only to be disappointed due to a sparring injury and a shoulder complaint destroying any chance of the fight happening and, more worryingly, damaging the valuable fight-fan relationship.

Haye insists that the positive response he has received since announcing his comeback from loyal fans, particularly on social media, leave him feeling confident that many of those who were there in the past will still be there for him on 16 January.

“There are still people that I think I had an operation that I didn’t need just to get out of a fight. It’s quite funny,” he remarked. “They think I detached my bicep just so I couldn’t fight Tyson Fury! They think I cut my own eye in sparring! This is like a handful of little 13-year-olds that are in their mum’s basement. That’s all it is. The same guys go on these forums and have eight different accounts on the same forum. I’ve never really worried about them.

“The true fans are the ones who understand the situation, who understand that life doesn’t always go as planned. I’m sure there’s many people out there who’ve gone for a job they thought they were going to get but for some reason someone else got it. Sometimes things are out of your hands. The boxing gods decide it’s not your day whether you lose the fight or don’t make the fight. You have to stay as positive as you can. I’m doing everything humanly possible to prevent any injuries. I’m doing so much massage work, so much ice baths …. I’m doing everything humanly possible to get in the ring in prime condition. I’m doing much more than I used to do. Having these three-and-a-half years out has given me the time to reflect on how I used to train.

“I did research into the types of training,” he continued. “What I used to do was great stuff but it’s great stuff for a 25-year-old. For a 35-year-old I’m a lot heavier now. I’m older, ligaments have so much wear and tear you can’t do that.

“Bernard Hopkins is an artist in his own field. He watches what he puts in his mouth, how he looks after himself and I’ve got to do that. Put more emphasis on injury prevention as I do on hard training sessions. There’s no point putting in a hard training session if I can’t train for three or four days because my back’s smashed or my knees are smashed. There’s no need for that.

“Shane McGuigan is super up on injury prevention. He really is good. He’s up to date with anatomy and physiology and what is the best exercise to get the results that are required without putting in the risks required. Sparring, there’s only so much protection you can get but I’ve got a new headguard, new gloves …. every single potential pitfall is covered to make sure I am in the fight in one piece, but in the best condition I can possibly be.”

David Haye takes on Mark de Mori at The O2 on 16 January, for tickets visit axs.com. Follow @mrdavidhaye for more information. #HayemakerIsBack