An older, heavier, apparently wiser and less impetuous David Haye has been outlining his plans for when he defeats the Australian journeyman heavyweight Mark de Mori in his comeback at the O2 Arena on Saturday.
Beaten in only one of his 37 fights, De Mori has acknowledged his perceived role as glorified sparring partner but insisted he is in London to knock out the former cruiserweight champion of the world. By contrast, while Haye expects his ring-rustiness after three and a half years away from the bright lights to force their contest beyond the halfway point, he seems certain of victory.
“Mark de Mori is a solid operator,” he said of an opponent with whom few in the boxing game seem even remotely familiar. “He has explosive power but I believe that levels of genuine world class over the unknown will tell.”
Despite weighing in at a career-high 16st 3lb Haye has looked relaxed and reasonably fit in the buildup to a fight billed as Haye-Day. He is certainly unrecognisable from the volatile, oafish loose cannon who caught Dereck Chisora with a ferocious right hand at a press conference in Munich back in February 2012. In the subsequent brawl Haye was seen to swing a cameraman’s tripod at the Zimbabwe-born boxer and he got the better of Chisora again five months later, this time inside the ring, in what has since turned out to be his most recent fight.
“At 35 I’m a bit maturer,” said Haye, who was forced to pull out of two scheduled bouts with the recently crowned world champion Tyson Fury in the interim. “Certainly less heated than the Chisora situation, that’s for sure. That was in the past. I learned my lesson from that. This guy [De Mori] got in my face but this time I didn’t try to hit him over the head with a tripod. You learn your lessons. It wasn’t the best thing to do. It was an instinctive thing – that was messy. This time I pushed him away and thought, ‘I’ll wait till fight night’ – and it’s just experience, saving it for the ring. No flipping tables over any more for me.”
Having recovered from a serious shoulder injury that precluded him from throwing a punch or even soaping himself properly in the shower, Haye acknowledged he will need to beat De Mori in some style to set off down the path towards another big payday. Whether or not he will get another shot at Fury after two aborted missions remains to be seen.
“I don’t think he’ll want to fight me,” Haye said. “I punch too hard. He’s got a perfect reason not to fight me. He’s thinking that I’ve already pulled out twice, I don’t care about him blah, blah, blah. Well, I don’t care about him. It’s the titles he has that I’m interested in, only. He’s got to retain them in Germany again. He’s got business to take care of.”
For the record Haye suspects Fury will not have it all his own way the next time he fights Wladimir Klitschko. Outlining a theory that sounded conspiratorial but far from outlandish, Haye suggested the Englishman might have been awarded the decision against Klitschko only because the judges who made it knew there was a rematch clause. “I think he’s good enough to beat him again,” he said of Fury. “But if exactly the same performance happens, I’m not sure they’ll let him out of Germany with those titles. Fighting in Germany, Wladimir Klitschko makes so much money for everyone … it’ll be tough for him.”
Asked who, down the line, would be his dream opponent, Haye barely hesitated. “Strangely, right now, I believe the biggest fight is Anthony Joshua,” he said of the London 2012 gold medallist who has put together an increasingly impressive 15-fight professional career in the few years Haye has been out of the ring. “Bigger than Tyson Fury, bigger than Vyacheslav Glazkov, bigger than Deontay Wilder – Joshua is a stadium fight. More people know who Anthony Joshua is and more people know who I am, so that fight … that for me right now I believe is the biggest fight. Hopefully Anthony Joshua will continue doing what he’s doing and Eddie Hearn [Joshua’s promoter] has done a fantastic job: 15 fights and 15 knockouts.”
Claiming to be a huge admirer of Joshua as a fighter and a person, Haye was nothing if not optimistic in believing a summer match between the pair might be a realistic proposition but conceded the man he hopes to fight may not be ready.
“It’s down to him,” he said. “I’m not in a position to dictate anything. If Sky and Eddie Hearn believe he is good enough, anything is possible – but, as I say, it’s exciting times for the heavyweight division.”
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