By John A. Bardelli
November 7, 2009
I've just finished watching several of the early rounds and the last three rounds of the Valuev - Haye fight. Well, the Brits know how to get, in long time fight trainer Mel Epstein's vernacular, ... "a champeen." The Brits, as a rule, are great, great, great fighters and have a long and storied history contributing to the saga of boxiana. So my comments should not be construed to denigrate England nor the storied history presented by a litany of fighters spread through the divisions the equal of any who tread resin from the paperweights to the heavyweights. I hope in time, on deeper reflection as time passes, that I will be proven wrong about the talents of David Haye --- and that, he too, will take his place among the elite of the sport of boxing. For the time being, I confess to seeing an imposter in the ranks.
The heavyweight championship has long been the obsession of British Boxing fans and pundits. Try, try, and try, as they might --- the haunting specter of the heavyweight championship, save for New Zealander Ruby Bob Fitzsimmons eluded the fancied imagination of the Brits for nearly a century before Lennox Lewis captured the crown with dignity. And the Americans, maintaining a stranglehold on boxing throughout the entire century, rubbed it in mercilessly as though the taunting was a vestige emanating from the hatred of the Brits engendered by the Revolution War and King George.
Sing, drink beer, wave flags and cause a commotion --- is the common lot and approach British fight fans utilize in supporting one of their own --- regardless of whether there is a fight underway or not --- as was the case on the evening of Haye - Valuev, a fight which took place, in Nuremberg, Germany. But the Brits were in full force, none-the-less.
One way to quiet such non-sense, mind you, is to wind up a package of dynamite in the form of a Filipino and turn him loose --- following that type of a two-fisted explosion, the Brits become so awed that their quieted submission takes on the overtones of a day spent within one of the beautiful towered churches within the Church of England --- another of that country's obsessions akin to making "heavyweight champeens" even if the religious pomp has to be borrowed in its own right.
When one examines the long storied history of boxing greats heralding from England and the English Commonwealth, it takes little imagination to understand that this latest pretender to the heavyweight throne --- David Haye --- is a poor imitation when contrasted with storied greats throughout the dvisions, not just the heavyweights, emanating from those Isles, --- starting off course with Jem Mace.
Flipping pages and we are presented with the likes of Bob Fitzsimmons, Joe Calzaghe, Lennox Lewis, Ted "Kid" Lewis, Jimmy Wilde, Jem Driscoll, Benny Lynch, Owen Moran, Rinty Monaghan, Peter Cane, Lloyd Honeyghan, John Conteh, Jackie Brown, Howard Winstone, Freddie Welsh, Ken Buchanan, Nigel Benn, Freddie Mills, Chris Eubank, Frank Bruno, Len Harvey, Randy Turpin, Tommy West, Jock McAvoy, Jackie "Kid" Berg, Bruce Woodcock, Seaman Tommy Watson, Henry Cooper, Lennox Lewis, Len Wickwar, Peter Jackson --- just a small sampling of fighters who came to fight.
David Haye is not a fighter --- he is a track man and a dancer. There was a time when a properly constituted boxing commission had rules to enforce --- rules which did not award fighters for running about the ring without returning some leather ---- Haye, in those times, would have been penalized for his "fight avoidance" --- up to an including disqualification for refusing to fight. Haye went into a four corner basketball stall --- for the entirety of the fight with Valuev.
[As a post script, inserted as this paragraph, to what I wrote last evening --- word now has it that David Haye hurt his hand during the fight and he maintains that his injury was the cause of his non-violent demeanor in the ring. Valuev is ready for the rematch. Let the injuries heal and let's have the rematch. My prediction is you'll see a repeat of the running --- injury or no injury --- and this time around the boxing commission should inculcate into the power of the referee the authority to disqualify the runner who is not throwing punching --- and I don't mean an occasional token jab in the guise of a punch as Haye threw last evening.]
From what I saw of the fight, Valuev retained his title if for no other reason than he was the pursuer, the aggressor, that he came to fight, was willing to mix --- but it takes two to tangle. Haye wasn't dancing --- let alone doing the two step --- he was pure and simply running. When Ali fought Foreman ... Ali still landed effective punches while on the move and hit Foreman with more shots prior to the end of the fight than Foreman had ever tasted in the ring on a collective basis save his two fights with Peralta.
Another fight which comes to mind and that is Carnera and Loughran --- in Florida. Carnera knew that when Loughran was at a distance he might land some effective blows ... so Carnera bulled Loughran repeatedly to the ropes and beat the hell out of Loughran --- really roughed him up with gloves, forearms, and elbows in equal distribution. When Carnera finished Loughran ... a tattered and tired Loughran wasn't in the mood for joviality with the crowd and the reporters as one witnessed David Haye at the end of the distance run.
As a pure boxer ---- David Haye doesn't hold a candle to light heavyweight turned heavyweight, Tommy Loughran. Look, yourself, at Loughran's record for goodness sake and then tell me I am wrong in my analysis. Haye was handed a gift this evening and its another black eye for boxing --- something stinks horribly in England --- they've got a paper champ who is yet another cheapened version of the concept of a champion.
For the record, also, let it be known than Primo Carnera would have slaughtered David Haye --- and the naysayers will taunt me with --- "well, look what Baer did to Carnera." I'll debate those naysayers, one on one or collectively any day of the week, and, indeed, invite the debate, because they have no clue what transpired before the Carnera-Baer fight started, nor an understanding as to what took place inside the ring when Baer defeated Carnera to win the title, even though they profess to have seen the fight footage 10 times or more. The fact of the matter is --- they saw it but still don't know or understand what they saw occur in June of 1934 in Madison Square Garden.
Regardless, this is not a commentary about whether Baer did or did not win the fight ---- unquestionably, he did win the fight with Carnera --- but most certainly not in the manner that is "visualized" on film and not without understanding that Baer was on the verge of being kayoed, himself, in the middle and latter rounds of the fight.
Give me Carnera for every Klitchko or Valuev whom any boxing writer or interested spectator wants to claim are "great" fighters. Carnera would have eaten the three of them alive --- and if Max Baer, who fought two follow-up exhibitions with Carnera, were alive, he would say the same thing. As it was, following the second of the two follow-up exhibitions with Carnera, a puffy and beaten Baer remarked: "I am just glad the championship was not on the line tonight." All the while Baer spoke, Carnera eyed Max as though to say --- "Now, what in the hell do you think about it?"
As it is, I feel sorry for Valuev for he sought to make a fight of it. For a tutor, he should watch film footage of Primo Carnera to see how to cut off the ring and rough up runners like David Haye --- examine the Carnera-Loughran fight footage. I hope they have a rematch and I hope Valuev uses his size, strength, and some punching capabilities to corner Haye and get some leverage with ripping shots that will sap the strength out of Haye to the point that he wishes he had never become a fighter. It may be far to late in the game for Valuev to follow suit.
As as sidelight --- either prime George Chuvalo, Jerry Quarry, or Floyd Patterson, for examples, would have kayoed David Haye. Imaging the concept of going to a fight and a track meet breaks out and the decision is awarded to the marathon runner? At best, he should get a blue ribbon --- but not the crown that fits the head of the world's heavyweight champion --- there was a time when the highest honor achievable in all of sportdom was just that --- the heavyweight champion of the world --- and I emphasize "the." Alas --- those days are long gone --- and not likely to ever return.