By Frank Warren
Nothing invokes interest in our sport more than a feisty heavyweight showdown.
Though I have no involvement, I’m excited at this week’s announcement that unbeaten Manchester traveller Tyson Fury and ex WBA champion David Haye are to square off at the Manchester Arena on 28th September.
It’s a collision that has huge significance not just to British boxing but also the flagging world heavyweight scene. Both are highly rated by the major sanctioning organisations, both have gargantuan egos and both are executioners who possess the artillery to incapacitate the opposition with a single blow.
Regardless of which camp you’re rooting for, this is a fight that will generate huge business and more importantly inspire lively debate among all sports fans which is what boxing requires. Hats off to Hayemaker and Hennessy Sports for putting the fight together.
The vastly more experienced Haye enters as a prohibitive 4-1 on betting favourite. Though he’ll concede six inches in height and at least two stone in weight, he has already delivered on how to negate such disadvantages when he claimed a close decision against 7ft Russian giant Nikolai Valuev to acquire the WBA belt back in 2009.
It is testament to Haye’s diverse skill set that he is hard to predict. Will he replicate the evasive tactics that accounted for Valuev or will he try to capitalise on his excellent athleticism to slip beneath Fury’s jab in an effort to detonate the Hayemakers that could bring a swift termination? I suspect the latter.
But there are several imponderables. We know Haye can wobble when clipped and, having operated on the world scene for the past six years, will he be able to get up mentally for a domestic dust-up with a young pretender? Nor can it be discounted that he’s had just five rounds of boxing since his abortive July 2011 unification spat with Wladimir Klitschko. Haye is a natural athlete and always in the gym, however at 33 has the inevitable started yet?
For me, it’s Fury who brings the intrigue to this fight. Whilst struggling to condone some of his ranting on social networking sites, I can’t conceal a sneaking admiration for the 6ft 9in man who is now unbeaten in 21 with 15 stoppages; some spectacular.
It’s no secret that Fury has been shaken and toppled several times by significantly smaller, less gifted, less combustible opponents than Haye. Will his whiskers be a cause for concern?
Nevertheless, Tyson has always hauled himself up and displayed both the ticker and firepower required to bring victory. Of course, fitness and skill play a huge part in determining the level a young prospect reaches. However, heart and desire are equally crucial and young Fury brings both in abundance. Boxing is the pain game and Fury is prepared to both endure and dispense.
He has faults, sure, but he’s still only 25, still developing his craft and his willingness to step up to the plate against Haye at such a tender age has to be admired and victory will establish him as a very credible world title challenger.
It’s a genuine fight, easily the biggest domestic showdown of 2013. As for the outcome, I’m reserving judgement until nearer the fight!
Much of the fascination regarding the current domestic heavyweight scene is how the momentum continually shifts.
Just five months ago, Liverpool’s David Price was being strongly touted as heir apparent to the Brothers Klitschko. However, a second successive stoppage loss to American southpaw Tony Thompson last weekend left his world title aspirations in shreds.
Big Pricey’s physical attributes are incontestable. In addition to being 6ft 8in the Scouse giant boasts a ramming jab, fluid skills and a seriously concussive dig.
In the early rounds last weekend, he successfully deployed those tools to dominate and drop the 41 year old Yank. Sadly, however, February’s second round defeat to Thompson proved no aberration.
A dark cloud has long lingered above Price’s punch resistance since his amateur career. He rose from the deck to see off a teenage Tyson Fury in the ABAs. Similarly, he had been bounced off the canvas by Indian southpaw Varghese Johnson in the 2006 Commonwealth Games semi final prior to finding the power to turn the fight in his favour.
Prior to that, he’d been stopped by rising Canadian prospect Bermane Stiverne. Subsequently, he capitulated both mentally and physically, in the 2008 Olympic Games semi with Italy’s Roberto Cammerelle.
A susceptibility to punishment around the head was perceived as his Achilles heel. However, last weekend, he was unhinged by body shots. By all accounts, Price grafts hard at the gym but it was as if someone had stuck a pin in him and all his air had expired.
His body language strongly suggested that he no longer wanted to be in the ring. Though he remained upright this time, he turned away and crucially offered no protest when the referee rescued him.
Much had been made about the addition of Lennox Lewis as an adviser to the Price camp but I’d always been sceptical. Clearly, the former undisputed heavyweight champion has much wisdom to dispense and I’d have had an issue had he replaced Franny Smith as coach. However, fighters need consistency and more than one voice of influence simply brings confusion.
Just five months back, Price would have entered a prohibitive favourite in a mooted contest against ex amateur victim Fury. He wouldn’t now and, already 30, it’s difficult to predict where he goes from here. His promoter Frank Maloney was visibly distressed during his post fight TV interview.
Though he remains British and Commonwealth champion, any challenger blessed with reasonable power is going to more than fancy their chances against him now.
If you saw Thompson’s after fight interview you have to hope his wife’s hip is in better shape than Price’s confidence. Hips can be replaced, it is very difficult to rebuild confidence!
He hasn’t lit up the world with recent performances, but James Degale has attracted the attention of Bob Arum.
He said he’s checking out DeGale’s current promotional agreement as he doesn’t want to get into a lawsuit with promoter Mick Hennessy.
“He’s a very good fighter, but I know he’s not the most exciting guy in the world. He’d certainly be a good opponent for Andre Ward. There’s a lot you can do with him”.
A warrant for the arrest of former WBO World Heavyweight Champion Herbie Hide has been issued.
Hide failed to attend court over drugs charges as he is apparently in a clinic in Nigeria suffering from Malaria – no medical certificate has been produced yet. Hide is due to stand trial in October.
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