November 13 is the target date for an all-England WBA heavyweight title fight between David Haye and Audley Harrison, according to the Telegraph's Gareth A. Davies.
It will almost certainly be against friend-turned-foe Audley Harrison, in Manchester, on Nov 13.
The Haye-Harrison fight — one of the biggest since Lennox Lewis defeated Frank Bruno almost 17 years ago — is likely to be finalised and announced within two weeks.
The Telegraph understands that discussions are for a pay-per-view event on Sky Sports...
Haye (24-1, 22 KO) won the WBA belt last year from Nikolai Valuev in a mind-numbingly boring bout, but one that many in and around boxing celebrated simply because it lifted the strap from around the giant Russian's ... well, not his wait, probably, but his shoulder at least. He has defended once, against aged American John Ruiz in April, pounding out a dominant win in entertaining fashion against a game but overwhelmed opponent.
But his time in the heavyweight division -- which he officially joined in November 2008 when he beat veteran Monte Barrett -- has been marked less by ring success and more by a penchant for constantly calling out the division's elite duo, brothers Wladimir and Vitali Klitschko. Haye has gone so far as to wear t-shirts depicting himself holding Wladimir's severed head, and even signed to fight Wladimir in 2009 before backing out with his home TV network (Setanta Sports) going under, which would have left him fighting for little compensation. He claimed a training injury at the time, but realistically, most who understand things couldn't really argue with him dropping out of that date.
It even became a bit more forgivable when he was said to have a fight signed with Vitali Klitschko for September of last year. But at the last minute, basically, Haye dodged that one and took a far less appetizing bout with Valuev instead, claiming that the Klitschkos were being unreasonable with their contracts to fight. So he beat Valuev, got rid of mandatory Ruiz, and was then expected by fans to fight one of the brothers.
No dice. Negotiations have mostly amounted to idle chatter, with the brothers fighting on and Haye sitting on the sidelines. Now, he'll be fighting Harrison (27-4, 20 KO), who at 38 has made a career of disappointment marked by brief flashes of the top-shelf talented he did once possess. Even today, Harrison has big power and can end a fight with one good punch. He's a bit taller than Haye and has a much longer reach, and with Haye liking to fight from the outside, this could be a more competitive fight than some expect.
Haye will, of course, be the heavy favorite. A victory over Haye would be a bit of a jaw-dropper for Harrison and the fans who have watched his pro career unfold without many highlights for the last nine years. At his age, it's hardly unreasonable to expect that any great promise Harrison once had has been lost to Father Time, and that even though he can still turn out some lights, getting to the switch is another matter entirely.
I will say that it is hardly the worst fight imaginable, and it will likely do well domestically. But it's yet another indicator of how hard the heavyweight division is to like. With all due respect to fighters like Harrison, Michael Grant, Albert Sosnowski, Shannon Briggs, and Kevin Johnson, among other recent challengers in "big" fights in the division, we're just not seeing the best fight the best. Compared to his brother and Haye, Wladimir Klitschko's stretch of wins over Sultan Ibragimov, Tony Thompson, Ruslan Chagaev and Eddie Chambers looks like a murderer's row of challengers. At least they were top-ranked contenders. There was a fight in there with a washed-up Hasim Rahman, but that came with Rahman as a late replacement for Alexander Povetkin, who has never shown any legitimate interest in fighting the best of the division despite being 30 years old and having an extensive and impressive amateur pedigree.
If you ever do wonder why heavyweight fights aren't on American TV anymore, it's really just as simple as this: The fights wind up being crap 9.5 times out of 10, aren't worth the money to the networks that they could spend on something better, and don't really spark any serious interest for American audiences anymore. The Klitschkos are massive in Europe, particularly in Germany where they both frequently perform to enormous audiences. Haye is a star in the U.K., too. Adamek could sell a fight in Poland (or in Newark, for that matter) if he decided to fight an actual hobo, and Adamek does seem to have legitimate intentions to fight one of the brothers at some point.
But in the States, the heavyweight division is dead. D-e-a-d, dead. I don't mean to say it will never rebound, because years ago it was harder to imagine there not being a viable heavyweight division than it is to now imagine one ever kicking up any dust on American shores. Nothing lasts forever, but there doesn't appear to be a truly major heavyweight fight coming any time soon, and there is no end in sight to the long-term lack of interest in the big fellas.