The Big Question: Deontay Wilder and David Haye - Fact or Faked?
Two of heavyweight boxing’s most hyped fighters are back in action this weekend, but will untested WBC champion Deontay Wilder and comebacking David Haye prove the real deal in 2016 or are they merely charismatic chancers? Can Haye become a legitimate threat again after years of inactivity? Is Wilder nothing more than a pretender to Tyson Fury’s heavyweight throne? Boxing Monthly's online team give their verdict in this week's 'Big Question’.
The jury is certainly out on Haye following recent withdrawals, which is a shame as at one point I believe he had what it took to dethrone Wladimir Klitschko.
Haye, though, seemed to become over-reliant on his right, his style suffered as a result and it is ironic that his next fight is on Dave - the home of witty banter -because he seemed to lose his natural charisma during the build-up to the Klitschko and Dereck Chisora fights.
By the time he signed on to fight Fury, Haye seemed a grumpy, distant character and the fight never quite felt real - you could never picture it coming off and it never did due to his injury woes.
A lot of old bands reform these days, some seem to be passionate about their music, others have the bored countenance of people who are cashing in or trying to build themselves up for one last big money-spinning gig.
Does Haye still want to make sweet music for the British boxing fans, who seem bored by the whole thing, or is this an attempt to cash out on PPV versus Anthony Joshua (Fury has said that he wouldn’t sign on to fight him again)?
I’m still not sure, and I lost so much interest in Haye’s career I have barely followed the build-up to this fight. I will watch it on the night, but I want to see something more than the expected KO win. I want to see some passion, a bouncy ringwalk and a beaming smile. The type of left-hand work that made him look briefly back on it versus “Del Boy” wouldn’t go amiss, either.
Wilder bores me to tears. Sure, he knocks people out yet he is so uncoordinated and herky-jerky watching him fight gives me motion sickness. I love American heavyweights. I’ve long maintained that we need one at the top and was optimistic when he won the belt only to lose faith in his desire to unify the division. Like Haye, I wonder if he is looking for a huge cash out fight.
Maybe they could split the distance, like it or not Fury is now operating at a level that neither man has reached so why not fight each other in a “Bombs away” contest? If he is even at half of his best, Haye should knock Wilder’s block off. I imagine his handlers know that so expect more of the same from a man who is not the messiah, he’s just a very gawky boy. - Terry Dooley.
Most of the boxing universe wrote off David Haye as a fraud after the "toe" incident. He fights so infrequently that he makes Andre Ward seem active. With the rise of heavyweight champion Tyson Fury and blue chip prospect Anthony Joshua, even UK fight fans have become apathetic to anything Haye does.
Deontay Wilder has to look great against Szpilka and then immediately sign to fight Povetkin if he wants to stay relevant. The undefeated American has seemingly limitless upside but his title run has been horribly weak, to put it nicely. Should ‘The Bronze Bomber’ fight and defeat his Russian mandatory, he legitimizes himself as a premiere heavyweight force. - Michael Montero.
The David Haye boxing fans grew to love was a loveable rogue who could transform into a vicious, nasty piece of work who loved fighting. The version of Haye that boxing fans have grown to doubt is one seemingly more interested in the fame and glamour of the fight game. Saturday night’s comeback against Mark de Mori will do little to win back any lost fans but it does, at least, get Haye back up and running in the division.
In fairness – and this gives me hope that Haye is keen to jump back into big fights rather than any more self-promoting escapades like this - he himself has looked and sounded disinterested during the build-up. The advertising campaign of a string lowly ranked celebrities [Evander Holyfield accepted] holding up sheets of A4 paper with hand written notes counting down the days until #HayeDay sums up the amount of enthusiasm that surrounds the event, for me. Mark de Mori isn’t in Haye’s league in terms of talent or experience and shouldn’t last six minutes on Saturday night.
Haye isn’t the type to play the rankings game and work his way to a title shot. The thought of a slow, steady climb through a series of increasingly tough challenges probably never even crossed his mind as he planned his return. We didn’t see the real ‘Hayemaker’ until he felt threatened or slighted, at which point he turned into an extremely dangerous man. If he is fit and still able to find enough motivation to push himself through a rigorous training camp, I will be extremely pleased to have Haye back in the heavyweight mix and he is more than capable of wreaking havoc in the current fragmented division. We won’t know if he truly back until he agrees to face a true challenge, though.
If Deontay Wilder’s handlers genuinely want to improve and develop him, then they need to put him in with fighters who pose some kind of threat. If they are going to promote Wilder as a frightening knockout artist – and that’s fine - at least have him knocking out sub-standard opposition every six weeks to build an aura about him. Entering the ring twice a year to defend a world title belt against mediocre but tough opponents like Eric Molina and Johann Duhaupas does neither Wilder or the sport any good whatsoever.
Wilder has been making the right noises this week and hopefully we see him pitched in with a fighter like Povetkin, Pulev or Ortiz soon. Should he come through that, a heavyweight unification bout with Tyson Fury would be a natural. - John Evans.
I would be reluctant to label anyone who has the guts to climb into the professional ring as a fake or a chancer. Although 'toe gate' did not paint David Haye in a good light, post-fight excuses are a staple of boxing, and many others have made similar excuses without the level of vilification Haye has been subjected to. Collectively, we seem to have forgotten all the nights of excitement that Haye has supplied us with, at plenty of risk at his health but none to ours.
Whether Haye can mount a successful comeback is another question altogether, and largely rests on if his body can hold up to the pressures that it has laboured under in recent years. If he stays fit, he has the ability and punching power to still make a mark in an exciting heavyweight division.
As for Deontay Wilder, I am a fan. Yes, he is raw and largely untested but he brings excitement and charisma to the ring and is improving all the time. I'd love to see a shoot-out between him and Haye and I think he would give Fury trouble, albeit be beaten right now. In a year or two, though, who knows? A Povetkin fight could also be a cracker.
Let's welcome and savour talents and personalities such as Wilder and Haye while we can - they add life to a heavyweight division which is brewing nicely right now. - Luke Williams.
It's almost impossible to say. If either of them beat somebody like Tony Thompson or Dereck Chisora, would they receive praise? Probably not. If they moved a step up the ladder to beat someone like Alexander Povetkin, would that be the 'real deal' seal? If that win came anytime between now and the summer of 2016, I'd be impressed.
The problem is, with agendas and the money at stake, both Wilder and Haye will look to use any marketability to bypass anything potentially risky en route to a showdown with whoever is the man holding the majority of the belts.
Is Wlad finally on the slide? Has Fury answered any suggestions of being chinny? Wilder and Haye can both punch, so if either are in great shape, and truly believe they can beat the other top big men, then why can't they be the undisputed heavyweight champion of the world? The mountain isn't the same climb that it was two years ago.
So many questions, so let's hope these guys are matched soon. Heavyweights in the spotlight is great for boxing and likely the fastest way to expand coverage and interest. - TKO Radio.
Both are popular, explosive heavyweights who attract plenty of column inches. I think the jury’s out on their actual fighting credentials at this point, however.
Haye has pumped himself up into a pretty fearsome-looking physical specimen. His problem lies in the fact he’s barely been in a ring since 2008 (de Mori will be only his eighth opponent in eight years). We’re left with an explosive athlete who’ll likely struggle in a long, gruelling fight - his ring fitness has to be suspect. The question is: will that prohibit him from being a player in the heavyweight division in 2016?
Thankfully, the division has moved on since the last “Haye Day”. I think the Bermondsey bomber has the punch to capture a belt of some denomination, yet he’d struggle with heavyweight king Tyson Fury, Wladimir Klitschko and the guys on the next tier down such as Luis Ortiz and Alexander Povetkin. Haye, though, almost certainly won’t be looking to work his way through that lot. He’ll be aiming to bullyrag poor de Mori before jumping into a well-paid gig – most probably against Anthony Joshua in London.
Since moving to heavyweight, Haye has promised far more than he’s ultimately delivered. He’s been brilliant at marketing himself yet he sums up what’s wrong with boxing in 2016. An athlete rather than a fighter - one who barely fights - Haye has seemed more concerned with cash and celebrity than in-ring glory. You get the impression he’d box a kangaroo over Tyson Fury, if it would land him a PPV date.
Wilder meanwhile has looked vulnerable since picking up his alphabet belt. I was amazed his team managed to hand pick two opponents that no-one had heard of in a division so short on talent but even then, Wilder looked like an accident waiting to happen. He’s charismatic and colourful but you get the impression that when a sturdier fighter catches him flush, he could be undone.
On a positive note, it’s good to have knockouts and excitement at heavyweight. The division is opening up nicely since Tyson Fury lifted what felt like decades of tedium. If everyone could fight a bit more often, we might be back in business. - Andrew Harrison.
The thought of two athletic, charismatic and hard-hitting heavyweights should have the masses salivating as we start 2016 but the feeling seems to be that of indifference.
After three years of retirement, David Haye is finally making the comeback he has been threatening to anyone that will listen and, while I don't begrudge him a soft touch in his first fight back, Mark de Mori is a bit too soft and obscure to generate much more than a collective shrug of shoulders. I think David Haye fell in love with the celebrity life and out of love with the hard grind of boxing. This latest comeback from Haye feels nothing more than a cash grab, with a fight with Anthony Joshua the ultimate goal.
Wilder's case is different where he's a work in progress, being moved along slowly while at the same time carrying the WBC heavyweight title. Wilder seems to fight at the level of his opponents, he was excellent when dethroning previous titlist Bermane Stiverne but has looked fragile and pedestrian against lesser opponents Eric Molina and Johann Duhaupas. I get the feeling that Wilder will carry on in this vein against Artur Szpilka and onwards until he meets an opponent whose level he can't match. Following Wilder and Haye will be fun while it lasts but both will end 2016 having suffered a spectacular loss. - Callum Rudge.
Wilder: I think he's real enough, and because he is fighting so frequently I don't mind him doing what he's doing (of course, I have exercised my right to not bother tuning in!). I'm pleased that after this he must face a true top-tenner and the Povetkin fight is going to show whether he should remain the division No.2 or count himself lucky he found a weak title-holder to beat in the first place.
Haye: I just fear that Haye is now irrevocably linked with the dismal Klitschko fight and the whole toe saga (the fact that Fury bewildered Klitschko and made him look inept also puts the episode in a whole new light). I still have time for Haye – he’s very likable, very articulate, very knowledgable, very good at self-promotion. Hopefully, he still has the ability to turn into a vicious sniper once the bell rings. Time has moved on and the public are now all about Fury and Joshua: is there room for Haye? Or is he now a Ha(ye)s-been? I think he's legit, and hope he's more active than two fights a year and goes for a true top-ten fighter after blitzing de Mori in three or four rounds this weekend. - Colin Harris.
Photo copyright: Stephanie Trapp/SHOWTIME®