Former two-weight world champion David Haye turns 41 today. ‘The Hayemaker’ is unfairly remembered as much for his controversies as his achievements. The time he pointed to an injured toe after losing to Wladimir Klitschko, the Luxembourg-licensed oddity against Derek Chisora and the injury-addled career-ending losses to Tony Bellew have unjustifiably come to define Haye in retirement. But the figure so many unfairly mocked on social media during BT Sport’s coverage of Tyson Fury vs Deontay Wilder III happens to be one of the best fighters these shores have ever produced. For proof, look no further than the three fights in which he claimed the four world title belts he wore through his illustrious career.
Vs Jean Marc-Mormeck, WBC, WBA and The Ring cruiserweight championship
David Haye won his world belts on the road at cruiserweight, travelling to France to meet hometown hero Jean-Marc Mormeck. The Londoner was knocked down in the fourth round leaving many observers fearing they were witnessing a repeat of Haye’s 2004 loss to Carl Thompson.
‘Hayemaker’ rose from the Paris canvas and battled his way back into the fight, against a foe renowned for being durable. Haye’s power told, as it so often did, in the seventh round. Haye blasted the champion with a concussive combination, sending him to the canvas and securing the win by TKO. The championship career of David Haye had begun, and what an eventful one it would be.
Vs Enzo Maccarinelli, WBO cruiserweight championship
Haye next looked to unify his newly-won gold with Welshman Enzo Maccarinelli’s WBO belt, in a Battle Of Britain collision. True 50-50 contests are rare in boxing, but on paper this fight looked evenly-matched. Both were renowned knockout artists, world champions and had each lost one previous fight. This fascinating cruiserweight clash filled the o2 Arena in London, and most analysts agreed there was no way it would go the distance.
Few could have predicted the astonishingly one-sided scrap that followed. David Haye needed just two rounds to know out a foe who had appeared to be his equal in the build-up. A crushing right hand separated Maccarinelli from his senses, and brought another title into the Haye camp. His cruiserweight work done, heavyweight would be next.
Nikolai Valuev, WBA heavyweight championship
After knocking out former world title challenger Monte Barrett, Haye was manoeuvred into a shot at WBA king Valuev. Standing 7 feet tall and weighing over 300 pounds, this was quite literally David vs Goliath. Valuev dwarfed natural heavyweights, never mind a cruiserweight moving up to the blue-riband division.
On the night, Haye was magical. Using his speed and movement to negate Valuev’s powerful frame and strong jab, he picked off his giant foe with supreme accuracy. Perhaps the performance of his career, Haye snatched the heavyweight championship he had long-prophesied with a dazzling away performance in Germany. Haye rocked the Russian in the last round, coming closer than any of Valuev’s 53 opponents had to stopping him.
Haye’s dominance of the cruiserweight division might be a more impressive achievement, considering he unified three belts and held the lineal title. But the nature of the heavyweight division, and the manner in which it was won, has made the Valuev fight the lasting image of David Haye’s career.