By Johnny Walker
David Haye has really been running the gamut of emotions since his wide unanimous decision loss to world heavyweight champion Wladimir Klitschko last Saturday in Germany.
Haye, who had convinced many people, including boxing experts who should have known better, that he had the talent and experience to defeat Klitschko, has been alternating between begging for a rematch (sure, who wouldn’t want another unmerited payday?), and making excuses for failing to live up to the two-plus years of trash talk and hype he produced before going meekly down to the Ukrainian star.
Photo: ODD ANDERSEN/AFP/Getty Images
First there was the now infamous “toe-gate,” in which Haye whipped off his shoe immediately after the fight to show the television audience – and a bemused Larry Merchant—his sore tootsie. Haye repeated this performance later at the post-fight presser, which calls into question not only his judgment—Haye is beginning to appear delusional as well as arrogant—but the judgment of those around him. Surely someone might have told him that the toe excuse was a really bad idea. Or maybe the yes-men Haye surrounds himself with don’t want to rock the boat.
At any rate, Haye has been mocked internationally for the toe trauma, none better than by Wladimir Klitschko himself, in a hilarious, Charlie Chaplin-esque silent video (see it at http://www.boxinginsider.com/headlines/wladimir-klitschkos-haye-summary/).
As the Klitschko camp sends out signals to Haye that a rematch with Wlad, or a fight with Vitali, is highly unlikely unless Haye does what he has so far been unwilling to do – beat a top contender or two – Haye and his guru/trainer Adam Booth are shifting gears back into “excuse mode.”
Booth is quoted today in the Daily Mirror as saying he was given the banned substance ephedrine, instead of the usual lidocaine, as an anesthetic for cuts by a nefarious “German doctor” before the fight.
“If we’d used it David would have failed the drugs test,” Booth contends.
Haye also chimes in with his own issue, complaining that the crowd surrounding the path to the ring in Hamburg, which actually appeared to consist mostly of rowdy, drunken working class Brits (called “chavs” in the local parlance), was out of control and trampled on his sore toe.
“We thought we were going to go down the path with the barriers but we were directed by Klitschko’s people to walk through the crowd,” said Haye.
“They tried to tell us we couldn’t bring our own security but we insisted on it. If I hadn’t had my security I would have been squashed. I had people trampling on my toe on the way to the ring.
‘Why didn’t they send us the right way through the barricades? They did it to unsettle me,” claims the ex-WBA heavyweight champion.
Perhaps Haye should lecture his UK fan base—whatever remains of it, anyway—on the dangers of excessive drinking. Both fighters had to walk through the crowd, and Klitschko actually faced the more hostile audience reception, so Haye’s implication that Wladimir gained some kind of advantage from this is highly debatable.
Of course, what is really eating at Haye and Booth is that Haye has “boxed” himself in with his promise to retire in October. The Klitschkos are obviously not going to be manipulated by Haye’s supposed intent to quit fighting into giving him the quick rematch he so desires.
And if Haye does retire now, he retires without a championship belt, just a loudmouthed footnote in heavyweight boxing history, another guy who had big plans but saw them disintegrate when he got in the ring with a Klitschko.
The only way forward for Haye in boxing is the hard way: beat a legitimate contender, like a Cristobal Arreola or a Robert Helenius, to get back in the Klitschko’s plans.
And Haye has never yet shown a liking for doing things the hard way.
No wonder he’s feeling a bit cranky.