David Haye capped off a very successful amateur boxing career by winning a silver medal at the 2001 world amateur championships held in Belfast, Northern Ireland. Haye lost in the heavyweight final which in effect is the cruiserweight division of the amateurs as they have the super-heavyweight division in the amateur boxing code. The fight itself pitting Haye against Cuban amateur great Odlanier Solis it was a very entertaining fight at one point it looked like Haye was on course to cause an upset as he caught Solis with a perfect uppercut that would have brought down a house, but after receiving a standing 8 count Solis started to really pour on the pressure eventually stopping Haye in the 3rdand final round. Haye had come up just short in his biggest amateur bout but the skills, speed and power were all their in an abundance as Haye would embark on a hugely successful paid career in the pro ranks.
Haye made his pro debut in 2002 and won his first 6 fights all by knockout in his 7th fight Haye met tough African Lolenga Mock(21-6-1) a career super-middleweight, Mock dropped Haye with a right hand and badly hurt him but Haye made it through the round and went on to stop Mock in the 4th. Three more wins followed all by KO taking Hayes’s record to 10-0-0, Haye was about to meet his acid test as a young knockout artist, in the experienced iron chinned veteran and former WBO cruiserweight champion Cart ‘The Cat’ Thompson(32-6-0). A crossroads fight pitting the young lion against the old warrior everyone Haye hit, had crumble so far in his pro career would Thompson? The answer was no Haye battered Thompson in the early rounds throwing and hitting Thompson with everything and it looked at times that he may have been on the verge of the knockout but Thompson stayed in there and as the old Rocky saying go’s ’’ it ain’t about how hard you hit. It’s about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward; how much you can take and keep moving forward. That’s how winning is done!’’
Well Thompson kept moving forwards and by the 5th round Haye was totally done he had punched himself out and was there for the taking Thompson connected more and more as the referee and the corner stopped the fight at the same time. Haye had his first career lose and had to learn the hard way that you can’t knock everybody out sometimes you have to realise that early in a fight and pace yourself don’t empty the tank all at once.
Haye rebounded from his first career defeat by putting four wins together all by KO none of those fights going past 4 rounds before taking a major step up in class in December of 2005 challenging Ukrainian’s Alexander Gurov (38-4-1) for the European cruiserweight title. Gurov had been a stalwart of the European cruiserweight scene over the last 10 years, winning the European title 4 times the first time 10 years previously in . Gurov had come up short in his two previous world title attempts losing to American Nate Miller for his WBA title in 97 and to Frances Jean Marc Mormeck in 03 also for the WBA title both by knockout in the U.S.
Haye proved he was every bit as good as those world class operators that Gurov had lost to by demolishing the 6 foot 5 Ukrainian in 45 seconds to capture his first title and send a message out to the world’s top cruiserweights .
Three defences of his European crown followed all in 2006 the first against unbeaten Dane Lasse Johansen(14-0-0) via TKO8, next came a Belgian Ismail Abdoul (27-9-1) a very durable fighter who had fought almost every European cruiserweight of note. This fight with Abdoul is significant because it was Haye’s first point’s win of his pro career coming in his 17th career win Haye won every round on all judges’ scorecards. His final defence of the European title also doubled up as a WBC title eliminator against a very good opponent in the form of unbeaten Italian Giacobbe Fragomeni (21-0-0), who had previously beaten Haye in the amateurs back in 1999 in an Olympic qualifying event. This fight was dubbed a revenge fight for Haye he would go on to win in a bloody battle via TKO9 at London’s York Hall, Fragomeni would go on to capture a world title in the future winning the WBC crown in 2008.
Haye had proved to be a class above even the very best of the European level opponents so the next step was to challenge for his first world title. What better way to challenge for your first world title than going after the undisputed best in the division the linear and WBC/WBA champion Jean ‘The Marksman’ Mormeck in his home country of France. Many fighters who win ‘world’ titles are nothing more than belt holders not many can truly call themselves champions the undisputed best in their division Mormeck was the man at cruiserweight and as the saying go’s to be the man you got to beat the man.
The fight itself was close early with Mormeck coming forward behind a tight guard and Haye boxing effectively off the back foot as he always does. Mormeck had a big 4th round dropping Haye so was probably ahead at the halfway stage. Haye showed in the 7th that when he has an opponent hurt he’s a great finisher, after hurting Mormeck with a cracking uppercut the fight was stopped soon after, TKO7 and new unified WBA/WBC/RING cruiserweight champion of the world David ‘The Haymaker’ Haye. Haye had achieved his goal of becoming the best cruiserweight in the world by knocking out the champion in his hometown and getting off the canvas to do it.
Haye would have one more career fight as a cruiserweight before launching and assault on the mega rich glamor division of the heavyweights. Haye’s final act as a cruiserweight was to fight British rival and WBO kingpin Enzo Maccarinelli (28-1-0) of Wales in a major unification bout pitting Haye the WBC/WBA (RING, linear) champion against Maccarinelli the WBO Champion. The fight would take place at London’s O2 arena; the fight was dubbed bombs away in reference to both men’s concussive power the question was, who could land their bombs first? Both men had shown suspect chins in the past so the felling was whoever lander first would hold the key to the fight. The fight itself was seen as the biggest all British showdown since Benn-Eubank II way back in 94 who fought in an all British super-middleweight unification showdown.
The first round was like most first rounds very cagy both fighters trying to size each other up. The second round would see the bombs fly and it was Hayes missiles that connected. Haye hurt Maccarinelli and Maccarinelli stumbled into a corner the fight was allowed to continue but not for long as Haye trapped Maccarinelli and unleashed rapped fire hooks before the fight was stopped TKO2. Haye had unified three titles and annihilated his nearest British rival and one of the top cruiserweights he had nothing more to prove at the 200lbs limit.
Haye made his official heavyweight debut against solid American Monte Barrett (34-6-0) again back at the O2 Arena. Haye had fought at heavyweight before but this time it was official that he planned to stay there. The fight with Barrett was not to different to most of his career at cruiserweight the power was still very much their even up at heavyweight. Haye did seem to be knocked down by Barrett but the referee did not call it a knockdown Haye on the other hand knocked Barrett down multiple times before finally stopping him in 5.
After Haye had made his official heavyweight debut making a statement by dispatching solid New Yorker Monte Barrett he next took aim at the divisions best, the two-headed monster of the Klitschko brothers who have been dominating the division for years. Vitali Klitschko was at ringside for the Barrett fight and Haye’s team went into discussions to fight him for his WBC title but those discussions fell through then it looked like Haye would meet Vitali’s younger brother and WBO/IBF champion Wladimir the fight was agreed upon and press conferences were held with Haye showing up to one of the press conferences wearing a t-shirt of himself holding the severed heads of both Klitschko’s this t-shirt enraged both the very respectful Ukrainian brothers. The fight eventually fell through Haye claiming an injury but many believe the real reason was the deal he was being offered and the rematch clauses which were involved.
Haye would go on to challenge for a heavyweight title to end the decade. A 2009 fight against the WBA champion held by the 7 foot and over 300lbs Russian giant Nicolai Valuev (50-1-0). Valuev was nothing more than a top 10 contender who many felt had lost his previous fight to the ancient 46 year old Evander Holyfield. The fight would take place in Germany so Haye had to travel again this time to neutral ground to fight for his second world title. The pay per view was dubbed ‘David vs. Goliath’.
The fight itself was a pretty dull affair with Haye boxing cautiously on the back foot, and Valuev coming forward all night with very little success the only real drama came in the 12th and final round when Haye caught the giant with a left hook that sent him stumbling across the ring. It looked for a moment that Haye could topple the giant who had never been hurt in his previous 52 pro bouts. Valuev survived that 12th round scare to hear the final bell the fight seemed close with some very hard to score rounds with very little action sky sports commentator Jim Watt had scored the bout for the Russian on aggression so when Michael Buffer announced and the winner by majority decision and with the fight being in Germany where Valuev had fought most of his career the winner was still very much up in the air, then Buffer announced from London, England, the Haye camp erupted in cheering and lifted him in the air. Britain had its first world heavyweight champion since Lennox Lewis 6 years previously.
Decade record 23-1-0 years active 2002-2009 divisions Cruiserweight/Heavyweight
Article by: Ross Finlayson Twitter @rf19902010