Heavyweights - 12 Rounds
David Haye v. Audley Harrison
Ahh, this fight. In this division. Every time I approach one of these heavyweight mismatches, I wind up arguing with myself about how to treat the fight. Should I rage against it, as is earned by this shoddy matchup and others like it? Should I attempt to be gentle with the poor heavyweights? Eh, whatever. Let's see what comes.
Realistically, we have three top heavyweights in boxing. Two of them are brothers and one of them won't fight the brothers. Yet they are so clearly ahead of the pack, that we can't stop wanting them to just fight already, even realizing that it's probably just not going to happen, because they can all make money avoiding each other and making YouTube callout videos in between iffy fights. Most of us know and respect the fact that the Klitschkos are not going to fight each other. Frankly, the idea is stupid and the fight would likely be dreadfully awful anyway, so it wouldn't be much different than the usual fare in the big boy division these days.
I've often said that the one thing the Klitschkos and Haye have in common, and maybe the thread that separates them from everyone else in the division, is the fact that you always, always, always know they're going to show up in shape. You're never going to find a pot belly or a love handle on the Klitschkos or Haye. The only other notable active heavyweight I can think of who stays in such immaculate condition is Evander Holyfield, and Holyfield is mostly notable at this stage of his career because people think he's a nut. I look down my list of top ten heavyweights today after the top three, and you have the following: Tomasz Adamek, who is pushing himself and is a little soft at heavy; Alexander Povetkin, who still looks like he has baby fat; Eddie Chambers, who even in peak shape is like Adamek; Tony Thompson, who isn't fat or anything, but won't be confused with the Klitschkos or Haye; Ruslan Chagaev, usually fairly soft; and then bona fide tubbers Cristobal Arreola and Odlanier Solis. And before I sound like some smug jerk, I'm fat, too. I'm also not a professional athlete. I'm some idiot on a web site. Some fat idiot.
But anyway, as much as you might want to slam Haye for some of the stupid, immature things he says, or for ducking the Klitschkos, the fact is that outside of the brothers, he's as good as it gets. Whether that gives you any newfound respect for him or makes you weep on your dusty, warped VHS copy of an Ali-Frazier fight is up to you.
David Haye's heavyweight run has been lacking. I'm not going to sugarcoat that, because there's no reason to do so. We have many wonderful posters from the UK on this site, and I respect them all, and I'm sure they'll know I don't mean "them," but Haye has used his relatively small pond to make himself a very big fish. There's nothing wrong with that on the surface, but calling him "champion" greatly overstates his global status even more than the dilution of boxing's so-called "championships" generally does to any of the many titleholders. Haye's wins over Monte Barrett, Nikolai Valuev and John Ruiz are nothing to jump for joy over. Barrett was an OK test of the waters, but shot by the time he got to Haye. Ruiz was old, and gave it his best shot, but was too slow and worn-out for Haye (and always would have been too slow). And Valuev... look, I've made my feelings on Valuev well-known before, so I'll shorten this. I barely consider him a boxer. I know he works hard, but his only asset is his size. That's it.
So where's the beef? It's not coming against Audley Harrison. Harrison is 39 years old and a perennial disappointment. The former Olympic gold medalist started his career promisingly with 19 straight wins, then lost to Danny Williams and Dominick Guinn in back-to-back fights in 2005-06. Since starting 19-0, Harrison has gone a mediocre 8-4. His best wins have come over Williams and Michael Sprott, both of which were avenged defeats. He's never made it to the world stage -- in fact, he's only ever fought five times outside of the UK. I'm not saying you have to fight in the United States to be a star or a big deal, but that was obviously Harrison's intent. He didn't want to be a domestic contender, and sadly that's where he's topped out over his career.
Now he's old, worn out, and long past the point where anyone was taking him seriously as a potential world title challenger or top name in the division. That Haye chooses to fight Harrison and attempts to validate it with claims that everyone's excited for him to "finally" shut up the so-called "A-Farce" is more fuel for the fire to the Haye detractors. To most outside of the UK, this is rightfully being seen as an easy win that will make money at home. Haye is not taking a remote risk in fighting Harrison. So for those few across the pond who may wonder why American media and fans are so skeptical or outright dismissive of this fight, the answer is simple: Audley Harrison is not a top 20 heavyweight, and we're not talking about the glory days of the division.
Grading the Fighters
Let's start with punching power. For pure, one-punch power, Harrison is better than Haye, I would say. That's because Harrison has a dynamite, thudding left hand. He has massive power in that left hand -- that is, if he lands it when it's loaded up, if he lands it totally flush. So, essentially, if Harrison lands a perfect left hand bomb, yes, he can put out anyone in the heavyweight division. I have no doubt about that.
But I could say that about most guys in the heavyweight division, couldn't I? Shannon Briggs has a massive right hand if the other guy lets him cork it, load it, cock it, and fire it. But Briggs, when faced with top competition, hasn't really found that punch consistently. He couldn't do anything with Vitali Klitschko. Why will Harrison, at 39, suddenly score the biggest win of his shockingly disappointing professional career? If you're banking on him landing a left hand similar to what put out Michael Sprott in April, that's a fool's bet. Haye is not Michael Sprott, no matter what you think of Haye's personality or his alleged cowardice when it comes to the brothers Klitschko.
Speed is a clear and wide mark in Haye's advantage. Harrison has long since lost what speed he did have in his younger days. Haye has the ability to make almost all of the world's "top heavyweights" look like they're standing still, both with his hands and his ability to move around the ring.
The only thing Haye needs to seriously concern himself with is that left hand. Haye's supposed dodgy chin is probably madly overstated at this point in his career. No, he doesn't like getting hit, and yes, he avoids it when he can. And yes, he was stopped by Carl Thompson. But a few things about that stoppage, which honestly seem to be the biggest reason people knock his chin:
- It was six years ago. Haye was in his 11th professional fight.
- Once he started really physically maturing (which was around this time), Haye always had to work really hard to cut down to cruiserweight.
- Carl Thompson could punch. It wasn't the worst TKO loss of all time.
If relying on Harrison landing his one great punch is a risky enough bet, counting on Haye to expose his chin AND get caught flush with Harrison's one great punch is even sillier. I'm not saying it can't happen, I'm saying it's remarkably unlikely. It would be a massive upset and deserve to be treated as such.
As far as heart... that's a tough one in this fight, I think. In the ring, I think Haye still has a lot to prove about his mental fortitude, even as I try to focus mostly on his positives, since his positives are going to be what we see the most of against this cash cow opponent. Still, it's worth saying that Harrison, for all his flaws, doesn't often display a lack of courage. He hung in with Sprott and scored the miracle KO in April, proving the guts are still there. If anything, I think Audley knows this is his one shot, and that after all his letdowns, he's lucky to have it. Don't expect him to quit on himself.
Only relevant because it involves David Haye. As said before, he's the clear No. 3 heavyweight in the world. Tomasz Adamek may have his supporters, but Adamek struggled with freaking Michael Grant, and as much as I like him, he has proven no more than Haye has, and his next fight is a dog, too. Giving this 2.5/5 is about as high as you can possibly go, in my opinion. I'm trying to be positive by calling this mediocre in relevance.
Good Fight Potential:
Listen, I don't hate or even dislike Audley Harrison. Actually, as a person, I find him funny and pretty entertaining when he speaks. With all the bad press he's gotten, Harrison doesn't seem to have let that truly bother him over his career. He seems jovial. I enjoy him. But he's not fun to watch fight. He's so limited, and long ago lost his self-confidence in the ring, especially against legitimate foes. Haye is the best fighter Harrison's ever faced, and Audley is very familiar with failure. Will he get trigger shy? I'm guessing so, and no matter how many sharp one-liners these two clever guys shoot at each other, bad blood isn't going to make this a surprising brawl. And so I'm not singling out Harrison, Haye knows that left hand is there and that Harrison is the best puncher he's faced at heavyweight. He'll be cautious, moving in and out, and won't make this a fight if he can help it.
Overall Pre-Fight Score:
I've said before that overall won't necessarily be an average of the first two scores, and this is a prime example. This fight just stinks. We all know who Haye should be fighting. I know some will counter with Haye's sob story about money or TV rights or whatever else, but I just don't care about that. If you want to be the best, fight the best. If you win, the lion's share is yours from then until you lose. The Klitschkos have earned the dual throne. Haye can pat that stupid WBA belt all he wants to, but nobody thinks he's the real champion. And a fight with Harrison, no matter what the outcome, will not change that. This is a no-win fight for David Haye in terms of advancing his standing. If he knocks out Harrison with the first spectacular right hand he throws, then Harrison is even worse than the naysayers expected. If Harrison lasts too long, then Haye is worse than he says he is. Haye's going to make money for this fight, but that's the end of the good it's going to do his career.
It won't be competitive and eventually Haye will get him out of there, probably when Audley's so tired and mentally defeated that he's wide open for a final barrage that gets the referee to jump in and make the stoppage. If you expect fireworks, you're setting yourself up to be let down. If you expect Haye to fight super aggressively and "back up his talk," you're almost certainly going to be disappointed. Haye TKO-10