A shoulder injury prevented Haye fighting Tyson Fury and put his future career in jeopardy. But David insisted he was “ticking over nicely at the moment, feeling good. It’s fine, technically is stronger than it was before, I can lift more weights with it if you judge it on that, punching hard. The shoulder’s healed. They said it was 50-50 but I did everything I could do rehabilitation wise to give me the best chance and fortunately it’s all come back together nicely”.
It is fitting then that Haye is speaking to Boxing News in a gym, not his own high-end training facility, but the Double Jab club in New Cross where he provided some surprise assistance to the young amateur boxers in their training session, lending his support to Join In’s ‘Backing Up Boxing’ campaign that encourages volunteers to get involved in the sport.
When it comes to his own training David believes he has learned from his past mistakes. He has adapted how he trains and reckons he can now overcome his susceptibility to injury. “My style is explosive. I punch hard all the time, in the gym, sparring, everything’s just 100 miles an hour. To punch as hard as that I’ve got to be reckless and explosive in training. It’s all good and well being reckless and explosive and knocking people out but you throw your body and you abuse it that much, something’s going to pop and snap from time to time and that’s what’s happened with me. I’ve had to re-evaulate my training regime. I’ve had to make sure I’ve given myself the best chance of not injuring myself. At the same time making sure I don’t lose my explosiveness and my power. I believe I’ve found a way that I can get the results I’ve been getting without risking the injuries that I’ve unfortunately been getting,” he said.
“I haven’t started sparring yet, it’s more the conditioning side of things, working on my foundation, core and making sure I’m not just aimlessly grinding away at my joints, grinding away at my bones and putting myself in a position where I’m repeatedly doing the same exercise again. Although it’s a good exercise and you get fit, if you grind away at your knees or grind away at your hips or your neck, something’s going to go and in the final part of my career I can’t afford to be getting injuries, particularly in training. If it happens in a fight there’s nothing really you can do. I can’t afford to be getting injured so the fight doesn’t happen. Is it bad luck or is it doing the wrong thing? Might be a combination of both. I guarantee if I was doing then what I’m doing now the situation would have been different. But everyone can be a genius in hindsight. At the time I did what I thought was right. It wasn’t, it didn’t work out so it’s all about learning. People who make wrong decisions and don’t learn from them are pretty dumb so I’ve had to re-evaluate everything. I’m in a good place, looking forward to a healthy, uninjured future.”
He did not reveal which trainer he was working with but said he would return to competitive action in 2015. “I’m enjoying what I’m doing. I think people will be surprised when they see me, a lot of people may think I’ll be less of a fighter than I was before, understandably if they haven’t seen me for two and a half years. The last thing you’d expect would be for me to comeback better than I was when say I fought [Dereck] Chisora or whoever. But believe me I’m better than I’ve ever been, I’ll be more effective, bigger, stronger, hopefully faster,” he said.
But he would not put a deadline on his return. “No timeframe. This year. I’ve done that in the past I’ve put timeframes and dates, deadlines on it. But why do I need a deadline? If I fight in three years or three years and two months, does it make a difference? I don’t believe it does. As long as when I do get in the ring I’m healthy and fit, ready to go. When I get in the ring that’s it, it all starts again. Everyone forgets how long you were out of the ring. It’s like George Foreman when he got in the ring after 10 years, once he was in he was back on his campaign, no one was thinking he hasn’t boxed for 10 years. People were just enjoying his comeback and hoping that he’d achieve things and he did, he won the heavyweight title,” David said. “He was the linear champion so I’d like to do something similar. I’m still training every day.”
He is confident too that a place remains for him at the top of the sport. “I proved to a lot of people in the fight against Wladimir [Klitschko] that my chin wasn’t as bad [as people thought]. I proved to myself as well that my chin wasn’t as bad as people thought. I’ve always been known as a ‘chinny’ fighter throughout my career, ever since I got stopped by Carl Thompson, the corner threw the towel in,” he said. “Arguably one of the best punchers in the division, Wladimir, [80%] knockout rate, he hit me on the chin with little 10 ounce gloves on… They bounced off my chin. I was actually surprised I could take them to be honest. I remember thinking, if he hits me with a big right hand, I’m a least going to be on the floor, my legs are going to be gone.
“But at no stage in those 12 rounds was I wobbled. So going into this next phase it’s nice to know that as I get older my punch resistance seems to have got better, which is quite heart-warming because a lot of people always assumed as soon as I got tagged by anyone who could punch, that would be it, it would be over. It’s always nice to have that in your armoury and know that you can take the best [punches] out there.
“I’ve done many rounds [sparring] with [Deontay] Wilder. Wilder never knocked me down, he never had me teetering out on my feet. I’ve been in there with the biggest punchers. You’d say those two are the biggest punchers in the division and I’ve tasted both of their punches and if those guys can’t deck me, and they’ve had plenty of opportunity to do that… It’s a situation going into my heavyweight campaign people even in my team were [saying], ‘You can’t get hit, you can’t get hit. Because if you get hit you’re going to go down.’ Maybe that’s not the case now.”
He’s sparred Wilder, fought Klitschko and knows firsthand their strengths. To compare their power, he said, “Quite similar. When I sparred with Wilder we sparred with big gloves, Wladimir had 10 ounce gloves on. I only sparred Wilder with big sparring gloves. You can still knock someone out with sparring gloves. I think he had 16 ounce gloves or whatever it was, I could still feel the power. Even if you block a shot you can feel the sting behind it. He’s got an amazing right hand. That right hand hits you with 10 ounce gloves on, you know about it for sure. I’d say maybe Wilder digs a little bit harder with individual punches. Wladimir’s jab’s more effective. Wilder I think has a more effective right hand, if I had to judge the two.”
Now he wants to fight Wilder for real. “I’d love to. He’s got the WBC title, he’s a guy that I believe fights next on NBC,” David said. “So he’ll be getting some good recognition in the states. [His fight against Bermane] Stiverne got good viewing figures on Showtime so I think him fighting on NBC Sports will be a really good thing for him, really get his name and brand out there.”
But Haye is prepared to build towards the Wilder fight. “I couldn’t go straight into that. Off the bat I’m not in any rankings so I have to work my way up the rankings, even if they did say have a direct shot it would be a stupid move to make after potentially by that time being out for over three years. It would be a dumb move to make. I want to make sure when I get in the ring I’m getting in the ring in shape and fighting fit. To do that I probably need three, four fights beforehand to feel my way through it and get my juices flowing again,” he explained.
“I’ve always wanted the big [Evander] Holyfield or Mike Tyson [type of fight]. I always wanted that big American nemesis, to go over there to America and fight and beat him. It seems like we’ve finally got it now. I’ve always had this Russian or German or Ukrainian. It’s nice to have big scary looking American knocking people out. That sounds like something that could get me excited. Wilder’s a good fighter, I like him, he’s only been boxing a short time and he’s achieved some good stuff, you’ve got to respect him. I’d love the opportunity to relieve him of his WBC title.”
David Haye is supporting ‘Backing Up Boxing’, a campaign from Join In to put more volunteers into community boxing. For more information visit joininuk.org