IN a recent video posted to his Instagram, David Haye was candid about his future in boxing. ‘Enjoy it while it lasts,’ he said. ‘I’m only going to be here for another year and a half, two years… I’m going to be gone and I’m going to take all them belts with me.’
After last week’s crushing loss to Tony Bellew, some wonder if the end is looming that much nearer for the charismatic Londoner. Importantly though, the fighter’s hubris appears to be intact. The prognosis on the injury which badly hampered him from the sixth round onward is positive, and as improbable as it seems, a return has been tentatively slated for the back-end of 2017.
Naturally enough, Haye wants to get back on the wagon and face Bellew in an immediate rematch. Presumably he feels that with no injuries to contend with, he can finish what he started in the early rounds – keep Bellew honest with quicksilver jabs, dictate from the outside and maybe land the weapons-grade right that mostly eluded him last time. The Bomber, of course, will share the same stony conviction: busted Achilles or no, Haye was surely tiring; survive the early howitzers and gradually walk him down.
Although a rematch seemed unlikely in the immediate aftermath of March 4 – Haye’s injury signalled the end while his conqueror wasted no time in name-checking Deontay Wilder and Joseph Parker – now that the dust has settled, it’s very likely to be among the most lucrative options for both men. Impulsive as Bellew is, he’ll know that super-sized heavies like Wilder, Joshua and a returning Tyson Fury are simply too big for him. And he will surely relish retiring Haye in a rematch – with no footnotes alluding to a ruptured Achilles.
Haye-Bellew II mightn’t be the same runaway success as their first encounter (the garish threats, expletive-laden rants and press conference punch doubtless accounted for a significant slice of the PPV pie) but it conjures interesting questions. Can Haye belatedly deliver the KO he promised? Can Tony get on top earlier and break his rival’s heart?
In lieu of a rematch to answer these questions, here’s four other fights the Hayemaker might target to put him back in the mix.
1. Parker/Fury Winner
Like Joshua, Parker is a coming force in the division – young, fast and heavy-handed. In the good old days he’d still be a contender climbing the ranks and planing the rough edges. Due to the multifarious nature of modern boxing, the whippersnapper’s already a world champion (WBO). Nonetheless, Parker’s got a stiff assignment with unbeaten Hughie Fury on the radar. In my view, whoever wins will want to secure a little leverage ahead of potential unifications with Wilder and Joshua/Klitschko. What better way to do so than by claiming a scalp like Haye? While the 36-year-old’s coming off a loss, he’s still a two-weight world champ with star appeal. And Haye himself would love nothing more than to rebound with a world title fight.
2 Luis Ortiz
It’s highly unlikely Haye will target the division’s bogeyman – but if he wants to prove the tank’s still got juice, the Cuban fits the bill. Ortiz isn’t the monster he’s been made out to be, but he’s strong, imposing and well-skilled. A win over Ortiz would silence many of the naysayers, and if Haye can stop the granitic southpaw, his vaunted power – which many have downgraded after last week – will be restored. Don’t bet on this happening, but it’ll be an intriguing clash of styles if it does.
3 Shannon Briggs
‘Let’s go, champ.’ Need I say more? These seven words more or less sum up Shannon Briggs’ modus operandi. Granted, Briggs-Haye has an undeniable element of farce attached to it, but resisting the enveloping chaos of the build-up will be nigh-on impossible. Dispatching Briggs won’t put Haye to the head of the queue for a title shot, that much is clear, but it’ll give an indication as to how much he has left.
4 Dillian Whyte
Whyte just fought on even terms with Dereck Chisora, which a few weeks ago would’ve ruled him out of the Haye sweepstakes. That’s no longer the case. If Bellew’s rebuffs a rematch, and the Parker-Fury winner knocks back the challenge, Whyte is among the most attractive candidates for a comeback. Like Briggs, the Bodysnatcher knows how to sell a fight and doesn’t lack for self-belief. Haye may well beat him but Whyte would make him work for it.
You may have noticed that the top dogs are missing from this list. Call me a skeptic, but I can’t see Haye rebounding from a horrific injury to face Deontay Wilder or Anthony Joshua. As for Tyson Fury, he has repeatedly stated that he won’t share a ring with David Haye. For now, we should take him at his word.
Haye’s route to the division’s summit is a perilous one, populated by dynamite punchers, young thoroughbreds and, threatening to administer the coup de gráce, Father Time itself. Will he scale the heights once more? It’s gonna be fun finding out.