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Haye can win but needs staying power

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Ben Dirs | 20:26 UK time, Friday, 6 November 2009

Don King in a duffle coat in a provincial German shopping mall. You could almost see it in his hair: "Where in the name of Muhammad Ali did it all go wrong?"

In common with television chef Gary Rhodes, King appears to be lowering the voltage in tiny increments, labouring under the misapprehension that the general public won't notice. One day the shaven-headed promoter will kick back in King Towers, spark up a monster stogie and say to himself, "you know what Don, I think you got away with it".

Nuremberg may be a long way from Kinshasa, Zaire, where King made his name masterminding "The Rumble in the Jungle", or indeed Las Vegas, but never let it be said that the Germans don't love their boxing.

Saturday's world heavyweight showdown between WBA champion Nikolay Valuev of Russia and London's David Haye will be shown on ARD, Germany's equivalent of the BBC. Not a German fighter in sight, ARD is still expecting a 40% audience share.

The crowds flocked to the Mercado shopping mall to gawk in disbelief at the chiselled, marbled David next to this woolly-backed Goliath. They sniggered, they marvelled, but most of all they wondered: "How's this little British fella going to beat this big Russian giant?"

Valuev v HayeDon King (centre) takes centre stage with Valuev and Haye at the weigh-in

That's the question Haye reckons everyone will be asking back home too. And judging by the texts and tweets I've been receiving over the past few days, he's bang on the money.

Others have already made up their minds, piling their cash on Haye to the extent he's a 4-7 favourite. But then British fight fans have a habit of letting their hearts rule their heads.

Still, many wise boxing men believe the little British fella can beat the Russian giant, although their opinions are littered with 'ifs'. And as a wise old boxer once told me, "if 'ifs' were a drug, all us fighters would be high as kites".

"If he's aggressive," says Evander Holyfield, who dropped a controversial decision against Valuev last year, "if Haye keeps moving, keeps moving, keeps moving..."

"If Haye moves around and throws a lot of punches," says John Ruiz, who has dropped two controversial decisions against Valuev in the past, "if he can do that he's got a chance."

"If Haye can make Valuev move," says British heavyweight legend Sir Henry Cooper, "you're moving 22st around, and heavy guys don't like moving, then David's got a chance."

"If he can keep moving, keep moving, Valuev can't catch what he can't find," says Britain's last heavyweight world champion Lennox Lewis.

Keep moving, keep moving, keep moving. So many fine boxers can't be wrong. Unfortunately for Haye, it's only part of the equation.

If you think of Valuev as a barge, being slowly manoeuvred this way then that, then you also have to factor in his barge-pole of a jab. "How can you not be strong and be that big," says Holyfield, "and when you get hit by that big, long stick..." Holyfield declined to finish the sentence.

"He's got very long arms," says Haye, "and a very large, awkward educated jab which is hard to get round. He throws punches from so far away, when you do slip it you're still out of range. So you've got to work twice as hard to get in and land your own shots."

If Haye can get inside "that big, long stick", the next part of the equation is to let go with some bombs and get back out again before much damage is done. For having a 23st man crashing down on top of you like a colossal wave is going to shatter your stamina.

Haye's staying power, and whiskers, have long been the source of suspicion, ever since a 40-year-old Carl Thompson dragged him out to sea and drowned him in the fifth round of their contest five years ago.

In 23 professional fights, the 29-year-old Haye has only been 12 rounds once, while 19 of his encounters, most of them at cruiserweight, have lasted less than six.

Obscure Dane Lolenga Mock floored Haye in 2003, and he's a career super-middleweight. Jean Marc Mormeck had Haye down again in 2007 before Haye peeled himself off the canvas to claim the undisputed cruiserweight crown. And Monte Barrett also had him down in Haye's last fight, almost a year ago.

Fans of Haye will have to hope he has learned his lessons and that all the pre-fight bluster about going in with his spurs jingle-jangling and trying to knock Valuev out has been just that - bluster. For despite his size, no-one's ever questioned Valuev's stamina, just as no-one's ever questioned his chin.

Everyone seems to be in agreement: the little man has the technical tools to do a job on the giant. But you know what they say about a tired man working with tools: it can be very, very dangerous.

As well as my blogs, you can follow me when I'm out and about in Nuremberg at


  • Comment number 1.

    As all the experts seem to be saying Haye needs a game plan to get in land some shots then get out again.

    However this just doesn't seem to be Haye's style and I am worried that he is going to try and blow Valuev out of the water.

    I hope he doesn't because if he fights a clever fight he can out box Valuev and win this and with his superior speed and his punching power he can and should win rounds much like Holyfield did (or didn't!) - the last thing Haye should be doing is going toe to toe.

    Haye comes across as an intelligent man so I think he would be wise to follow the advice of those in the know such as Holyfield, Lewis and Ruiz.

  • Comment number 2.

    I want haye to win this but the more I look at it the more it looks like a valuev victory to me. If valuev lands a shot in the 36 mins they are at it then haye could well be seeing stars.... And if it goes to points... Well let's just say haye could possibly win every round and still lose given valuevs past decisions on Germany!

  • Comment number 3.

    I want David Haye to win, but I can't help think that he is just too small and inexperienced to be able to deal with a monster like Valuev.
    Also Germany isn't a great place to go and earn a judge's decision, and I doubt Haye will be able to knock Valuev out. Still fingers crossed, and lets hope that Haye can win and finally bring back some of the fun to a very dull heavyweight division...

  • Comment number 4.

    I think Ben is spot on suggesting that stamina is the all important key for David Haye to get a victory, but here's an alternative take as to why.

    If you take a look at Nikolay's fight with Holyfield, He visibly slowed after the first couple of rounds and His jab became all but non-existent. After 4 rounds or so it became hard to spot any really crisp clean shots getting landed.

    With this in mind, David may only really need to play stick and move to the extremities for the first half of the fight. After that, then his chances to land His bigger punches will come thick and fast. Another issue though is that He can't go looking for one big shot to the chin because He'll always be punching upwards and He'll need to ensure that He has enough left in His shoulders to last the 12, and unlike Ruslan Chagaev, His orthodox style won't leave him with the luxury of the overhand left, as well as other issues that Valuev had with fighting a southpaw.

    So, in summary, think "Rumble In The Jungle", if Haye wants to win by knockout, or at least to have any real possibility of flooring Valuev, He has to expend as little energy as possible in the first 5 or 6, and do all He can to get Valuev tiring Himself out needlessly, although maybe standing on the ropes and inviting him to take pot shots might not work out to be a good career move.

  • Comment number 5.

    Valuev is a big boy with a passable jab that is worth noting due to its reach, and he can last 12 rounds.
    He looks like a monster, but doesn`t fight like one and really if you look at his KO% vs Hayes KO's I`d say it is Haye who is the monster.
    If you assess Chagaev who already beat Valuev - he is a decent heavyweight - world level certainly but not special. That isn`t meant as an insult to Chagaev, I rate him but he has no X-factor and could`t find that something special when needed against Wlad. The Holyfield fight I have somewhat discounted due to Valuev's disinterest.

    I would be a lot more worried if I was Valuev's trainer right now because what I see is basically a big man with a jab vs 15st of powerful, skillfull puncher. The weigh in only reinforces that - Haye looks like a weapon.
    Despite his extensive number of fights I don`t think Valuev has fought a truly world class explosive boxer like Haye. He`s beaten a lot of average/fringe world level fighters like Etienne, Beck, Barret etc but not real class.
    While his head looks like a VW, he IS still flesh and bone, his nose can break, he can cut and he can swell up.
    I actually quite like Valuev's character and wish him well in life - he is a nice guy, but I think tomorrow morning people will realise why evolution hasn`t set us up with lots of 7ft humans when we see a very dejected Valuev being beaten into giving it up in much the manner of the Pacman vs Oscar De La Hoya fight.
    I`ll go for him retiring on his stool in about the 10th after a 9th round in which he has taken some frightful punches.

  • Comment number 6.

    Brivaldo I love the fact you have decided that Haye is to be written about as if he was God. However I think "He" needs movement, movement,movement......and a stepladder to win the fight. It's going to be absolutely brilliant when he brings the heavyweight title back to Britain.

  • Comment number 7.

    Whilst my heart says I want Haye to win I just think he will be that pumped up that he won't be able to resist charging in. Valuev will hold and lean on him which will have him tired by the 4th or 5th. Haye is in fine physical condition but because of that I feel he will have the same problems bruno had of massive muscles burning everything up by the sixth.
    I hope I'mm wrong and he pulls it off. Justneed to find a pub thats showing it now.

  • Comment number 8.

    Am I going crazy here? Why is everyone saying that Haye should essentially fight Valuev's fight instead of his own?! Valuev's been the distance 16 times, and got the decision 15 times. Haye's been the distance once. If this fight goes 12 rounds, Haye is toast.

    Haye has 21 KOs in 23 fights. This would rather suggest to me that, if he wins, it will be by KO, regardless of his opponent's record. That thing at the bottom of Valuev's face looks like a chin to me. Hit it hard enough, and you'll see a collision between 22st of human flesh and a wide expanse of canvas. Simples.

  • Comment number 9.

    There has been a lot of talk about Haye using Holyfields template to beat Holyfield. I have been thinking about this and I am not so sure David can execute this plan as well as Evander did. Here are my reasons:

    Comparing Holyfield to Haye I would say the following.

    1) Holyfield's a more skillful fighter and an all time great.

    2) Holyfield has an Iron jaw.

    3) Holyfield has proven stamina and even at 46 easily fought 12 rounds against Valuev.

    4) The younger Haye is quicker than the older version of Holyfield but Holyfield was still quicker than Valuev. Is Haye's extra speed going to make a huge difference against an already very slow Valuev.

    5) Holyfield is very experienced and has come through many tough battles against the best fighters. Haye has boxed very few rounds as a heavyweight.

    6) Holyfield showed great patience and craft when he fought Valuev. Haye has been known to be impatient and has gassed in the past fighting all out.

    In his careeer Valuev has never been too troubled by a punch so why should a blown up cruiser now be the one to stop the big man.

    Call me old fashioned but I think David has to make a lot of changes to the way he fights if he wants to emulate Evanders template for beating the big man.

  • Comment number 10.

    boomshakalak - Which is why, my friend, I've stuck 20 quid on the draw at 35-1

    brivaldo78 - If Haye goes rope-a-dope, he'll having two holes the size of melons in either side of his body. What people forget about Foreman is that in the 70s, he was a monster, but the fact is he wasn't much bigger than Haye is now. Oh yeh, and do you think Haye is God?

    PorterRockwell - Simples? I'm sure that's what every one of the 52 men who have fought Valuev thought

    Strongback - I agree with you, and I think everyone does. Haye can beat Valuev, but only if... and that's the big question, is he able to adapt to a new, more patient gameplan?

  • Comment number 11.

    Anyone remember Chagaev's face in his fight with Valuev? To beat him over 12 rounds doing the 'keep the big man moving without getting caught' thing he had to concentrate every second. That is not Haye. He will not be able to do that over twelve rounds and if he tries it he will get KO. Chagaev showed that it is possible to hurt Valuev and if Haye can do that with his 'all guns blazing' style then he stands a chance. He still has to prove that his punches will hurt Valuev though.

  • Comment number 12.

    By the way, forgot to ask, but how are people getting on trying to persuade their locals to order in the fight? Would be a shame if we had all this build-up and no-one ended up watching the ruddy thing.

  • Comment number 13.

    Mr Valuev isn´t that good a boxer and it´s important toget over one´s initial instinctive fear, when facing him. For Mr Haye the motto should be "speed kills", get in quick do some damage and get out again. I think he has a fair chance.

  • Comment number 14.

    Hi Ben!,

    I have put the fight on in my Venue for tonight! and i have to say ive never in my years seen so much interest in a fight!!!! thats includes all Hatton, Floyd and Pacman fights it's crazy! I also think Sky are a bunch of money grabbers! costing us an absolute fortune!!!! and it should be made more affordable for Pubs, clubs etc........

    As for the fight!! Haye has too much....Everyone agrees on what he needs to do and not do......aslong as he's clever he should have no problems in bringing the title home and becoming a British and world Icon.....the boy has done a great job! this boy has made this fight into what it is with his mouth and he deserves a pat on the back for it!!....So now its time for him to walk the walk which i think he will!!

    Haye to win round 8!!!

  • Comment number 15.

    I just can't see Haye winning here, if you ignore the hype and look at just the bare facts Haye has to do something pretty special to win and I don't think he is capable of doing something that special

  • Comment number 16.

    Haye has to move for the simple reason if Valuev lands a decent punch, especially early on, poor David won't know what year it is. I cannot pick a winner, but would never take odds on money on this fight.

  • Comment number 17.

    Valuev at around evens looks value indeed!

  • Comment number 18.

    Valuev is not a boxer by any standard, if it goes to points and it probably will if he has his way, he'll get the decision. Haye looks the part but has to be cleaver. Valuev will tire toward the middle of the fight, Haye needs to keep his distance and will need the KO as he should keep his distance in the 1st 5-6 rounds and will not gain points during these - either that or go for it and KO in round 2 !!!!!!! Maybe that's why I've never been in the ring !!

  • Comment number 19.

    We all want David to win. But he won't. He'll do his best though, God bless him. Even David knows that (You can see it on his face) and so does everyone else but they all think that if you say he will win he will stand a better chance, but that's not true as we all know from past fights starting from 1908. Valuev is just too big and now has too much experience. David is just too small. What we need is an MMA expert like the world MMA heavy weight champ, and fellow Russian, Feder Emlianenko. Valuev has never been duffed up and wouldn't mind the chance of being so, just for the experience. He's getting pretty bored. For goodness sake, Don the Giant King Cobra, set up a fight between Val and Em before it's too late and the World gets bored.

  • Comment number 20.

    DH’s reputation (the rep that got him the Valuev fight) is based on the 3 fights since winning the cruiserweight title against Mormeck. 1. However, although demolishing Enzo Maccarinelli in that manner looked good, Enzo’s ability to take a punch was always suspect (e.g. the KO by Swarby), and after the DH fight he appears to be heading down-hill (a couple of losses by TKO). 2) Bonin, a smallish heavy wt usually fights in Poland, and most of his opponents he has beat had poor records (usually a string of bad results before they meet him). Bear in mind that he was also TKOed by A. Harrison (that says a lot). 3. Barrett, a journeyman fighter on the decline, and If he had been a real threat he would not have been brought to London to meet DH. So no surprises there, except that he actually managed to deck DH (which I am sure was not in the script). So it will be interesting to see how this goes. Most of DH's fights have not lasted long, so IMO for him to win it will have to be quick; question is how to get to Valuev without being tagged himself. Stamina may be a problem as the fight passes into the later stages, and a DH victory may be less likely, particularly if it’s down to a points discussion in Deutschland.However Valuev is only human, and that head may crack if its hit hard enought!

  • Comment number 21.

    They're in good shape, I'll give them that. Hope Haye wins. Good luck. I suspect he'll need it.

  • Comment number 22.

    Just heading to my mates house mow with a box of lager to eat his home made curry and watch the fight!

    I've just followed bens lead and put my money on a draw!

    Come on haye!

  • Comment number 23.

    I think Haye has the intelligence and stamina to pull this one off. Fair enough, Valuev could try and keep him at arms length but I think Haye has done his homework, he looks in top shape and has a game plan.
    Valuev is frankly a freak of a man and although he will shrug off most of Haye's punches I think that Haye will be able to inflict substantial damage to the body of Valuev which I think looks a bit flabby.
    What a fantastic contest!

  • Comment number 24.

    Been looking forward to this fight for ages.
    Firstly, nobody should be calling Valuev a 'freak' - not only is it deeply offensive just because the bloke is 7'2", but also because it's an easy get-out for Haye supporters if he gets beaten.
    And he shouldn't be beaten - the decidely dodgy decision against an all-but finished Holyfield has shown that the man is beatable, although Haye has to go about this fight in the right way and, frankly, the hooplah surrounding the match has been to his detriment (not totally his own fault, but comments such as 'I bet the guy reeks' haven't helped his cause).
    Stamina and intelligence is certainly the key to this one; seven stone is a hell of a lot of extra weight, no matter how big the opponent and, while the relative size difference should mean that Valuev has the turning circle of a bus, one well-placed blow on Haye's suspect chin could mean a very early finish and a lot of wasted fifteen quids around the UK (unless you choose to go the pay-nowt-per-view internet route!).
    Haye has to remove the hype from his mind, keep moving and hope to tire Valuev; some people have likened this to Ali/Foreman but the sheer size of Valuev, coupled with, again, the doubts surrounding Haye's ability to stay on his feet (as well as his lack of distance fights) negates the possibility of allowing Valuev to punch himself out.
    Honestly, it could go either way - hopefully it'll be the way of Haye as it would be fantastic to have a REAL British world champion.
    My shout? Either 2nd round for Valuev or 9th to Haye.

  • Comment number 25.

    I'm sorry but he is a freak with limited boxing skills.
    I've been on this planet for 43 years and never met anyone even near to 7'2" in height. Haye strikes me as an intelligent boxer and he deserves our support for even attempting to defeat this man. Maybe you fancy your chances?

  • Comment number 26.

    Not that much of a freak, was he.

    And thanks to the BBC, once again, for the shittiest feed ever.

  • Comment number 27.

    A sad day for boxing. By all accounts a turgid, unconvincing affair by both protagonists. Emelianenko, the WAMMA MMA World Heavy Weight Champ, and compatriot of Val,would have pinned Val down within in minutes with a kick to the right leg, followed by a rush to the knees in a shoot hold, followed up with five cracks to the nose with a forearm attack using the bone, swung round to the top of the head with five knee strikes to the top of the head and then spun under the right arm with an arm lock with the left leg on the throat and the right leg on the chest.



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