REMEMBER the video of David Haye sparring Deontay Wilder in a boxing ring beneath a railway arch in Vauxhall? It was released five years ago, just before Haye’s ill-fated bout with Tyson Fury, and was designed to work on a couple of levels.
It was used, first and foremost, to spook Fury, show him ‘The Hayemaker’ was serious and that, in going toe-to-toe with a contender of Wilder’s calibre, he would be too quick and too good for Fury (then an unproven domestic heavyweight) when the pair met at the Manchester Arena. It was also released to create some interest and hype ahead of what was going to be a Sky Sports Box Office pay-per-view fight.
Wilder, yet to become WBC champion, was the necessary fall guy. He was the barometer used to measure Haye’s progress and his head, encased in a head-guard, was the one people watched Haye punch with left hooks and right crosses.
Upon seeing the footage, people naturally jumped to all sorts of conclusions. They assumed Haye had Wilder’s number. They assume he still does. But, just as a fight can’t be judged on a prior sparring session between two boxers, neither can sparring sessions truly be judged on minute-long compilation videos. Everyone knows that.
To his credit, Wilder never once complained. He didn’t question the validity or editing of the footage, nor seek revenge with a video of his own. He understood the game. He got it.
Now, seemingly a lifetime later, Haye is again releasing sparring footage close to a fight, only this time the sparring partner is Malik Scott, blitzed in a round by Wilder in 2014, and the opponent he intends to spook is Tony Bellew.
What goes on behind closed doors will finally be revealed tomorrow night live on @SkySports Box Office. Shout out to my chief sparring partner @MalikKingScott for giving me some great rounds. The Hayemaker is finally back 👊🏾💥#HayeBellew2 #Revenge pic.twitter.com/1RVgmd5yyu
— David Haye (@mrdavidhaye) May 4, 2018
The aforementioned video won’t do much to dispel the concern that Haye is a faded force at world level, but, if nothing else, it shows him throwing both hands in the direction of his sparring partner, gritting his teeth at one stage, moving his head well, and seemingly working at a good pace. That’s encouraging.
Better than the sparring video, though, was this accompanying blurb sent via Haye’s PR team.
“The video shows David sparring with Malik Scott, who has notable wins over Tony Thompson and Alex Leapai. David shows off his speed and focus as he seeks revenge on Tony, who beat him in their first bout on 4th March 2017. David’s tenacity, focus and willing (sic) to win at all costs has driven him to be in the shape of his life.”
If that doesn’t convince you, nothing will.
David Price likes to take risks. He took one in March, when deciding to fight two-time drug cheat Alexander Povetkin in Cardiff, and he’s going to take another one, albeit a much smaller one, in July.
He’s back. The date is July 27 and the venue will be Bolton’s Macron Stadium. The opponent, not yet named, won’t be any kind of risk, but the very fact Price is returning so soon after being knocked out in the fifth round by Povetkin is a risk in itself.
Many would encourage Price to take a longer rest; make sure he has fully recovered and healed up. But Price, buoyed by his performance against Povetkin, and the goodwill he has received since, is in no mood to hang around. He wants to get back in the ring, build on this momentum, and work his way towards “another big fight”.
“I’m made up to be back,” said the former British and Commonwealth heavyweight champion. “I’m grateful to MTK Global. They’ve delivered this fight for me and I’ve got my mojo back. I’m back in love with boxing.
“I really enjoyed the (Povetkin) fight and the occasion last time out. It was great to be part of such a big event. My next fight won’t be on that scale but it’s a step back towards the big time.
“I said before I’d target the European title but I’m not solely focused on that. I just want another big fight and it could just as easily be for a world ranking title.
“A lot of inspiration has come from the fans. It’s really giving me such a boost. When you receive the support I have – especially after a defeat – it’s heart-warming.
“I’ve come in for some stick from the public over the last few years – some warranted, some not – but to see people throwing their support behind me now, I’m drawing on that.”
He’s saying all the right things. He sounds more confident than ever, in fact. But still there is a risk in returning so soon following a knockout so emphatic it didn’t require a count.
Price, more than anyone, knows that.
“I’m a little bit different to others,” Price, 22-5 (18), told Boxing News. “I make sure I have more than one brain scan a year. I’ll go and get a brain scan before every fight. Once a year, for me, is not enough. I’d rather be sure that everything is okay. That’s not me being scared or anything. I’m just being sensible.”
Some bonus MTK Global news: Super-lightweight Ohara Davies, a recent acquisition, will fight Josh Leather on the undercard of Billy Joe Saunders’ WBO middleweight title defence against Martin Murray on June 23.
First, Davies must deal with Christopher Sebire on May 19 in Leeds. But should he come through that test – and he should – a date with Leather in London awaits.
“I rate Leather highly,” said Davies, 16-1 (13). “He’s 13-0 and he’s not someone I can overlook. He’ll be coming into this fight as a champion (well, an IBF European super-lightweight champion). I may be more widely known than him but I have a challenger’s mindset.
“I watched Leather against Glenn Foot and it was very close. It could’ve gone either way. Leather went down and got back up and that shows heart and grit. I can’t take him lightly.
“I’ve already watched a few of his fights and adjusted myself to fight someone of his skill level. I’m really looking forward to fighting him.
“This is a significant fight for me. It doesn’t matter which route I use to get to a world title – as long as I get there. Whichever route MTK Global and Frank (Warren, promoter) want to take me down, I’m up for it.
“I’ll fight whoever is in front of me. As long as I get that world title shot at the end, I’ll be happy and I’ll do what’s asked of me”
The last time Davies fought a bloke called Josh (Taylor) he found himself leathered in seven rounds. He will hope for better luck on June 23.
(Also announced for the June 23 card at the O2 Arena is an English heavyweight title fight between rising star Daniel Dubois, 7-0 (7), and Tom Little, 10-5 (3).)
And finally… the only thing crazier than the idea of Oscar De La Hoya starting an MMA promotion and getting in bed with boxing’s wilder cousin is the idea that to do so he might bring back Chuck Liddell and Tito Ortiz and have them fight – for a third time – in 2018 or 2019.
Ortiz is 43, and recently retired, while Liddell is 48, three years older than De La Hoya, and has been retired since 2010, the result of losing five of his final six fights (four by knockout).
“We’re talking some business,” De La Hoya told TMZ. “It’s no secret that I love what MMA fighters do. I want to get into the MMA business. I want to start Golden Boy MMA. Imagine Tito and Chuck once again, it would be huge.”
The combined age (91) would be huge. The fight, rest assured, wouldn’t be.