Whiskey Tango Foxtrot? David Haye Comes Up Lame Again

The first time David Haye agreed to fight one of the Klitschko brothers, he came up lame the way a horse would — he pulled out of the June date with Wladimir citing an injury. The second time Haye agreed to fight one of the Klitschko brothers and pulled out, he came up lame like a freecreditreport.com commercial — annoying, slightly offensive and a bit misleading.*

Haye and his team pulled a bait and switch this week, dropping an all-but-signed September fight with Vitali and instead signing a November bout with another heavyweight, Nicolay Valuev. Valuev won’t bust Haye’s head like a grape the way Vitali probably would have, and I’d heavily favor Haye to beat Valuev, so in one regard the fight makes more sense. But considering all of Haye’s boasts about what he was going to do to the Klitschko brothers — among other things he’s said and done — it’s a punk move.

I’d once found Haye’s mouth entertaining. But it’s tied him up in knots of late. And if you’re going to talk big, you need to at least try to back it up.

I’ll be generous to him and assume that the back injury he claimed as the reason for wanting to postpone the Wladimir fight was legit. There are suspicions it had to do with the troubles of Setanta and how that would affect his television money, but if his injury was real, well, that can’t be helped. Given that Haye is not a man who honors his word, you could be less generous and I wouldn’t blame you.
But this Vitali thing is indefensible. Haye and his team had made it sound like there were just a couple minor things to resolve in the contract. Haye’s American promoter, Golden Boy, said there was a deal. Instead, Haye now is complaining about the agreement Vitali wanted him to sign, the one that would have given the Klitschkos options for Haye’s next fights, and he cited it as the reason he wouldn’t put his name on the dotted line. “The reality was that I would not have been in control of my own destiny for quite a long while if I had signed the contract the Klitschko management group were putting in front of me. Basically they would have been able to tell me when and who I fight for quite a while to come,” he said.
Except for… well, that’s the same agreement he signed for the Wladimir fight just a few months ago. I thought it was a bad idea, but he signed it.
What changed? Haye: “As for signing the contract, now that I realize just how much support and interest I have from the people in Germany, it would have been like selling my soul to the devil.” What support is he talking about? Didn’t Haye just a few weeks ago leave German fans — who bought tickets to see adopted son Wladimir knock him out, not out of any kind of support for Haye — hanging? Why would they like him more now than before?
But it gets worse. A lot worse. “The level of disrespect they have shown me throughout has left me feeling insulted,” he said. Wow. Wow. Haye is the guy who wore t-shirts on the press tour for the Wladimir fight featuring him standing over the decapitated bodies of the brothers. This is the guy who called Wladimir “Bitchko.” He’s called the brothers “wusses” and “robots” and said Wladimir “sucks” and is “crap” and “embarrassing.” For starters. For the Vitali fight, Haye’s manager wouldn’t even accept calls from Vitali’s team, and Vitali had to find out about the fight being off through the media. And Haye is saying Vitali behaved disrespectfully during the fight negotiations.
Meanwhile, in the same news release where Haye claims he feels “insulted,” he calls Valuev “ugly.”
And still it gets worse. Haye: “I will not be a slave fighter.” The race card? Really? And I don’t think I’ve ever heard of the kind of slaves who would have made millions of dollars performing their duties. And does this mean that since he signed the same contract with Wladimir he now is comparing to slavery for the Vitali fight, he had agreed to be a slave then (as if “agreeing to be a slave” isn’t contradictory enough)?
And after all this, Haye still says he wants to fight the Klitschkos. I can’t imagine why they’d give him the time of day. He certainly doesn’t deserve it. I saw in some British paper where the writer said Haye against a Klitschko would still happen because there’s too much money for it not to happen. But Haye has wasted months and months of the Klitschkos’ lives with lengthy negotiations and broken deals. I doubt they’d waste any more of it knowing how Haye doesn’t come through when he says he will.
And it’s very sad. Haye got my hopes up, frankly, that he could be the man to revitalize the heavyweight division. With his bold, exciting, go-for-broke fighting style and punching power, I gave him a better chance than most of beating Wladimir (although not much of one against Vitali), and with his looks and charisma, I thought he had the kind of total package that would make him a popular champion if he managed to obtain the crown. And I thought if he stumbled along the way, it would at least be interesting to watch him fail, because he’s not a boring fighter and I suspected he’d dramatically risk it all to win.
Now, he’s just like every other great heavyweight hope of recent years. All promise. No delivery.
(*Freecreditreport.com commercials feature bad songs that are annoying. The commercials imply that if you’re in love with someone and marry them only to later find out they have bad credit, then that love and that marriage aren’t worth a damn. The commercials imply that if you work in the service industry in any way, your life has no meaning. Both implications are slightly offensive. And while the site will give you a free credit report, they’ll also charge you for their services later if you’re not careful, which is a bit misleading. Also, the guy featured in the commercials doesn’t sing the songs. Someone else does.)

About Tim Starks

Tim is the founder of The Queensberry Rules and co-founder of The Transnational Boxing Rankings Board (http://www.tbrb.org). He lives in Washington, D.C. He has written for the Guardian, Economist, New Republic, Chicago Tribune and more.