Former cruiserweight champion and heavyweight belt holder David Haye announced today at his south London gym that he was retiring from boxing at 31 to launch a career as an actor. Truth be told, the acting career began long before the boxing one ended.
Haye was a moderately talented cruiserweight, a division whose existence is barely known by most fight fans and which has never had 10 fighters in it at the same time worthy of being rated in any legitimate top 10 compilation. Having said that, Haye was the best of the rest, a fighter who unified the WBC, WBA and WBO cruiserweight titles by stopping Enzo Maccarinelli three years ago.
That sudden victory launched his march to the WBA portion of the heavyweight title despite the fact Maccarinelli never had a signature win of any significance, which is why he was WBO champion. In fairness, Haye did earlier defeat Jean Marc Mormeck, a mountain of a man who moved like one…a mountain that is.
Haye stopped Mormeck but then again so did O’Neil Bell and no one is ever going to see his name on the voting list for the International Boxing Hall of Fame. Mormeck also was taken the distance by Dale Brown so there you go with his resume.
The man known as The Hayemaker then went on to outpoint plodding Nikolay Valuev to take away his portion of the scattered heavyweight title and then beat an aging John Ruiz in his last fight and a never was in Audley Harrison for absurd money in England before running like a thief to survive 12 horribly lackluster rounds against Wladimir Klitschko in what he now says was his final act as a boxer.
One could argue it was also his first role as an actor because his performance both that night and in the two years that led up to it was method acting of the finest kind but boxing at its worst. He threatened to commit all kinds of mayhem at the expense of the brothers Klitschko and then when he finally fought one of them he acted as if his sole goal was to get out of the place without exposing himself to any damage.
He succeeded in that and considering the millions he was paid he should certainly be on the list of best paid actors in the world except for one small problem – he didn’t act like a fighter. He fought like an actor.
That was true right to the end when he shamelessly revealed what he claimed was a broken toe, insisting it had drained all his power when the real health problem was clearly a heart condition.
You have to hand it to Haye though. He was one of the great frauds of his time but he knew how to sell. He understood few in the media would call him out on his shameless and endless b.s. as long as he was amusing and if any of them did they would be drowned out by the many (myself sadly included) who just wanted to see someone stand up and try to give the Klitschkos a fight.
But just as he blew his cover in that final, shameful non-performance against Wladimir Klitschko, he blew his lines on his final day on boxing’s stage when he said he was retiring as promised on his 31st birthday, claiming that had been his plan since he first slipped on boxing boots at the age of 10.
If he’d left it at that Haye might have gotten away with his latest fraud upon the public but he then went on to say, “We have heard the wrong kind of noises from Team Klitschko, which have left me thinking there is little chance of the fight (with big brother Vitali) ever coming to fruition.
“The Klitschkos see me as just another challenger out there but I know what I’m about. I’m one of the best British boxers ever.’’
The latter depends on how long a list you want to make but certainly he’s nowhere near Britain’s all-time top 10. Guys like Freddie Mills, Randy Turpin, Lloyd Honeyghan, Nigel Benn, Chris Eubank, Jim Watt, Howard Winston and John Conteh, not to mention Lennox Lewis, Ken Buchanan and undefeated Joe Calzaghe (46-0 before retiring), would do nothing but laugh uproariously at the thought that Haye would belong in the same room with them unless he was delivering drinks on a tray while wearing a tuxedo jacket and carrying a napkin.
Worse, out of one side of his mouth he said he was retiring to fulfill a promise he’d made to himself since the age of 10 to stop boxing at 31. Out of the other side he said the Klitschkos are afraid to fight him hence there was no reason to press on.
After what he did against Wladimir what would they have to be afraid of? Busting a gut laughing?
In the end, David Haye was what the sport has had so many of over the centuries. He was a con man. He came along at a time when the talent pool in the heavyweight division could fit inside a kiddie pool and milked it for all it was worth when all along all he was what he claimed he now wants to be – an actor more than a fighter.