What a difference there is when a fighter is totally confident and not afraid to let his hands go. That's what separates the greats from the near greats. The genuine greats show up with that mindset every time out regardless of who the fighter is in the other corner. The near greats, not every time.
Hooray for heavyweight David Haye 26-2 (24), who fought the most complete and purposeful fight of his career this past weekend. Haye, who the last time we saw him was running like a thief in the night against heavyweight title holder Wladimir Klitschko last July, out boxed and out fought Dereck Chisora before stopping him in the fifth round. Haye dominated the fight from the onset and erased the stench from the Klitschko fight and has injected himself into the heavyweight title picture once again.
For Haye, this performance came at the perfect time. After his showing the last time out, he knew to become relevant again he couldn't just get past Chisora, he had to take him apart and deliver a memorable performance so the fans would be talking about him and clamoring to see him again. Consider it mission accomplished.
Going into the fight everyone knew that Haye was the predominately better skilled fighter/boxer and puncher. However, due to the fact that he talked for two years about how he was going to take Klitschko apart, then became a ghost for 36 minutes during the fight, he needed his actions to speak for him this time. And Haye showed that when he's not afraid of his opponent and lets his hands go, he's a terrific offensive fighter.
His jabbing and turning kept Chisora following him around the ring, therefore not allowing him to get his feet set to punch. In addition to that, Haye was trying to hurt the incoming Chisora instead of pot shotting him. I think he figured out pretty early that Chisora didn't have much real power, that his physical strength wasn't connected to anything he could use in the ring. It was obvious that as long as Haye kept Chisora at the end of his punches, he'd be alright. But he added a new twist...after cutting loose with straight lefts and rights, he either took a half step towards Dereck and smothered his punching room...and when he didn't do that, he pulled the incoming Chisora into him and again prevented him from getting off.
Granted, if Chisora would've moved in punching ala Joe Frazier, Haye, like Muhammad Ali, would've paid a big price for opening up his arms and pulling Chisora in. But as we all know Chisora ain't no "Smokin" Joe Frazier. The bottom line was Chisora had no chance of breaking Haye walking in like a hornless bull and winging big shots like you'd expect from an NFL linebacker.
No, this night belonged to David Haye, whose punch variation was never better. It's easy to say that Chisora's predictability had a lot to do with why Haye looked so sharp, but I don't think that's accurate. Haye's speed, sharpness, confidence and punch assortment had everything to do with why Chisora looked even more raw and crude than he has in the past.
Now the question becomes, is this the real David Haye or will he show up and fight like a church mouse once Vitali or Wladimir Klitschko are in front of him again? It was easy to take liberties with Chisora because he's very limited offensively. Haye's right hand leads and counters were the perfect foil to stun Chisora before he could get himself out of the mud coming forward. But those right hands will have a much different trajectory punching up at either Klitschko. As we saw against Wladimir, the few times Haye got in cleanly with his right hand he was almost off his feet and in the air, thus even if he landed, he came down out of position and never once during the fight did he land a combination or successive punches.
And then there's the question of David's confidence and mindset. Sure, he'll sell the fight and sound better than Floyd Mayweather with the trash he'll talk before it. Only the problem this time is, both Wladimir and Vitali are supremely confident that they own Haye and also believe Haye's bluster is nothing more than hot air. The brothers also know that what worked against Chisora will have to be totally rebooted and adjusted against them. Remember, the Klitschkos don't have to knock David out to handle him. All they'll need to do is impose themselves enough to the point to where his punch output is reduced and his only hope is to land a lottery shot.
Let's assume that we see Haye fight Vitali Klitschko. It's doubtful that Haye can break Vitali's defense and get in with his right hand while Vitali is pressing the fight. Vitali's unorthodox punch variation and punch anticipation may be just enough to where Haye doesn't cut loose like he did against the plodding Chisora, who never gave Haye a different look once during the five rounds the fight lasted.
That said, if Haye does fight Vitali next, there's no doubt he's catching him at the right time and an upset is not out of the question. Although there'll be plenty of time to analyze and break that fight down, the important thing right now is based on his fifth round stoppage of Dereck Chisora, David Haye has injected himself and a little excitement into the heavyweight division........Thank You, David.
It's amazing how one really good performance at heavyweight puts you right back in the picture.
Frank Lotierzo can be contacted at GlovedFist@Gmail.com