With the news coming out yesterday that David Haye bailed on a fight with Vitali Klitschko for September 12 to take a shot at 7-foot Nikolai Valuev in November, I'm starting to wonder where Haye's reputation is at. Let's recap his career since he fully went up to heavyweight last year:
- Rampaged over a half-shot Monte Barrett, which was fine. Barrett was a good first heavyweight test. He isn't the fighter he once was, but he's a fringe contender still and came out ready to let his hands go. He couldn't deal with Haye's power, simple as that.
- Talked crazy trash about both Klitschkos, particularly Wladimir.
- SIgned to fight Wladimir on June 20 of this year, then skipped out claiming an injury in camp. Some said it was legit, others had their doubts. I have no idea what the real story was, so don't ask me.
- Signed to fight Vitali on September 12. Huge arena in Germany again, a 55,000-seat venue. Great fight on paper, everyone excited.
- Bailed. Signed to fight Valuev instead, a far less intriguing fight and a decision that kind of makes Haye look like a punk.
I think Dan Rafael of ESPN summed it up nicely in his latest blog entry:
[I]t may turn out to be a smart move because Haye has a way, way, way better chance to beat Valuev than Klitschko. After all, Valuev couldn't deal with the movement of the ancient Evander Holyfield, who is much slower, much older and not nearly the puncher that Haye is.
But the way Haye dealt with Klitschko was pathetic. Had Haye simply taken one deal over the other without all the drama, that would be one thing. No problem.
Instead, he strung Klitschko along for weeks while talking crap about him -- and his brother, Wladimir Klitschko, before bailing on him, too, last month -- only to double-deal behind his back and then pull out of a fight that had been agreed upon. I talked to [Haye's manager/trainer Adam] Booth, and frankly, I didn't believe him when he said they didn't have a deal. His story sounded like the dog had eaten his homework. I've followed this process every step of the way, and I believe Klitschko's team of Bernd Boente and Shelly Finkel when they say they had a deal. Say what you want about them, but they are professionals, they've negotiated a zillion fights, and they made a compelling case that the deal was done.
Haye is as marketable as he is -- and he's no giant superstar or anything, at least outside of England -- in large part because he talks trash and has a very exciting style in the ring. The prospect of one of the Klitschkos facing a hard-punching, athletic, quick guy who's in great shape was really exciting for a lot of us. And Haye made it even more fun by even sometimes going a bit overboard with his PR stunts and trash talk.
Haye made us want to see those fights. Now he's backed out twice to fight a guy nobody wants to see.
What's your current feeling on David Haye?