Like Vybz Kartel said, “Bwoy a run like a wounded daaaag, bruck Usain recoooord….”
As a general rule I try to temper my criticism of professional athletes in general and fighters in specific; they get more than their share of shit to begin with, and nearly any man willing to strip to the waist and fight another man for a living is deserving of respect for physical courage if nothing else. David Haye though…oh, this man. This fucker. This was his plan:
1. Move up to heavyweight.
2. Challenge Wladimir Klitschko.
3. Piss him off by wearing a t-shirt depicting the Klitschkos decapitated and Haye standing over them in triumph.
4. Talk an egregious bag of shit for months.
5. Pull out with a questionable back injury amidst reports that he looked terrible in training and got whacked in sparring.
6. Negotiate for a bout with Vitali Klitschko instead, still talking shit.
7. Pull out of an agreed-upon bout to take an easier, less well-paying fight against a non-puncher. STILL talking shit.
Best case scenario, you read this as Haye using the Klitschkos to get his name out there without any intent to fight them, which makes him an unethical lying snake. Worst case scenario, he’s a coward who realizes he’ll get killed dead by either brother and has engaged in bad-faith negotiations to preserve as much of his reputation as he can save without running the risk of ever having to cash the check his mouth’s been writing. Either way, as a fan, I’m done with him- I have zero intention of watching the fights of a guy who’s unserious about his own career and doesn’t have any interest in fighting the best, and a year or so ago I was a big fan of Haye. How not to promote a career, in 9 easy steps.
To the extent that anyone’s defended this stuff from Haye the argument has been that it’s a business move- worth short term money and long term negotiating leverage. Here’s a question: if you’re either of the Klitschkos and are in a position to all but hand-pick your opponents, what possible incentive could you have for ever negotiating again with this dickweed? He cost you serious time which in the fight game is money, he or his people are outright liars, right now he’s not worth that much money, and there’s zero reason to believe he’ll substantially improve any of these factors in the future if the best he’s got now is fighting Nikolai Valuev. Haye’s gone from being one of the more interesting potential Klitschko challengers to just another clown in the heavyweight circus, and make no mistake- the biggest money, really the only big money, in heavyweight boxing is fighting a Klitschko. Haye may have closed off not just one but both of those potential opportunities for the sake of 6 months of lip war. He and Tom Atencio need to get a beer or something, if they can afford it.
(Accidentally held over from Friday)
I wish I could link to Dan Rafael’s chat today as illustration of this, but it seems ESPN’s awful software has eaten his responses for like the 5th week in a row. Before that happened however, Dan (who I usually really like) had one of those awesome Old Boxing Fart moments. He took something like 5 or 6 MMA comments during his boxing chat and all of them about Brock, buried Brock and defended boxing against people who brought up Tyson, et al. by citing a chatter saying at least someone like Floyd Mayweather only pretends to disrespect his opponents (which is apparently better). He also complained mightily about Brock’s disrespecting the paying customer with his middle fingers; which was fascinating given Dan’s own insult-and-ban chat gimmick and that Brock’s doing so got him a bunch of attention from Rafael and mentions in a forum he’d never otherwise come up in as a result of his actions. Almost like he was self-promoting and looking for attention. Self-awareness is a terrible thing to lose, kids- especially if your job is substantially composed of deciphering promotional bullshit.
It remains a damn shame that boxing and MMA are far enough apart as sports that it’s very difficult to come up with a functional and logical way to draw on this kind of animosity to build an event. The best I’ve been able to come up with is that Brock vs. Wladimir Klitschko under something like modified San Shou rules would be a huge money fight (prediction: 2 million buys), but unfortunately it’s also got 0.0% chance of ever happening given the injury risk to Klitschko on takedowns, the decent chance that Lesnar would get KO’d quickly, and the fact that both guys can make huge money without it. I will say though- someone in Fedor’s camp should at least bring up an idea like this if they’re determined to avoid UFC once Affliction is cured.
Side note: Rafael also took a sideways shot at “MMA reporters” for letting Brock off easy. I hate when people do this- and there’s been a lot of it about of late in things I’ve read with Arseblog and Goodplaya also taking shots at Myles Palmer/ANR without using his name. My philosophy on these things is simple: if you’re willing to criticize someone for something, you should name them and link to what you’re criticizing if possible so that a reader can make up their minds for themselves. I recognize that this runs the risk of looking like trolling for controversy if it’s a smaller blog criticizing a larger one, but that’s not a good enough reason in my mind to avoid doing so- one of them is a functional problem and the other is an image problem. It’s just way too easy consciously or unconsciously to construct a strawman or engage in over-sweeping generalizations, otherwise.
This fight was a goddamn abomination and I don’t have much to say about it. Rahman is shot- his legs are locked, he reacts badly to punches, he can’t physically move the way he should be able to, and for much of this fight he just retreated to the ropes and laid there absorbing punches. I don’t want to see him on TV anymore as it’s scary to watch and makes for bad fights, and I REALLY don’t ever want to see him get hit in the head again. Stuff like this makes boxing look horrible. Klitschko, meanwhile, facing a shot fighter who wasn’t throwing back and was refusing to compete at times, threw almost nothing but jabs for long stretches and smothered himself on the inside again and again. Thus 7 rounds of mostly jab, jab, jab, left hook, hold, grope, ref break, jab, grope, hold, bell. It says everything about the mentality of this promotion that 41 year old Riddick Bowe, who once claimed in court to have suffered boxing-related brain damage, fought on the undercard.
I understand Rahman was a name and a late fill-in, but this walks right up to the line of being both a fraud on the public and a televised execution of a man’s future well-being. No one who cares for Rahman will let him fight again; no one who cares for Klitschko will let him fight someone like Rahman again.
Big fight come and big fights go, but the sport never really takes a holiday. This week’s notable fights:
– Thursday evening sees a legit cruiserweight title match on Versus, as Steve Cunningham takes on Tomasz Adamek. Both men have been beltholders before at various weights, and with former champion David Haye moving up to heavyweight this fight will determine the new top dog in the division. As he’s fought overseas for much of his career I don’t have the handle on Cunningham that I should, but from what I’ve seen, as much as it pains me to say so, I expect him to outbox Adamek in this one. He’s better defensively and has quicker hands, and it probably a more natural cruiserweight. In any case, it should be an excellent fight.
– Telefutura’s got an Urbano Antillon fight on Friday, a nice look at a fine fighter flying somewhat below the radar in the lightweight range. He’s more or less being showcased against Juan Ramon Cruz, loser of 4 of his last 6 including 2 in a row to Fernando Trejo and Miguel Huerta. Fun for hardcores.
– Saturday has two big time broadcasts and one lesser show. Showtime, after the pullout of Miguel Torres due to illness from a rubber match with Kendall Holt, responds by matching Holt on short notice against Demetrius Hopkins. It’s a good replacement and an interesting matchup, or at least more so than the fight itself which is likely, unfortunately, to suck. Hopkins has only 11 KOs in his 28 wins, and is best remembered as the recipient of a gift decision over Steve Forbes; Holt, while immensely talented, is prone to falling into the habit of being a counterpuncher only and ignoring his own power. Throw in some personal issues of late for Nard’s nephew and the short notice and there’s a pretty good chance this one could end up being 12 rounds of mistimed jabs. At least they’re not showing the Yuri Foreman fight on the undercard.
Over on Versus, there’s a less heralded card featuring James Toney against Fres Oquendo. Against all odds, I expect this to be decent; Oquendo/Chris Byrd once upon a time was shockingly entertaining and competitive, and while both Fres and Toney are washed up often that makes fighters more hittable and less able to stall with defense. You can probably book a Toney win here, as he seems to be inevitably drawn towards David Haye in a role-reversal replay of his own 2003 contest with Evander Holyfield. Undercard here is full of prospects led by Andre Ward in jobber squashes, which may or may not be shown.
And finally, the biggest show of the weekend is HBO’s broadcast featuring a Pacquiao/DLH replay as the opener and…ugh…Wladimir Klitschko against Hasim Rahman in the main. 5-8 years ago there would have been a lot to say about this fight, but by now Rahman has amply proven that he’s no longer able to compete consistently on the worldclass level. The last time he looked good in the ring may have been in 2005 when he faced Monte Barrett, and that’s being generous; since then it’s been draws and no contests against what’s left of James Toney, meaningless victories over the likes of Taurus Sykes and Dicky Ryan (whoever that is), and being knocked out again by Oleg Maskaev. He’s 36 years old, has battled weight issues, was never known for his chin or his defense and now he’ll be going in there against a version of Klitschko who is as confident and polished as he’s ever been or is likely to be in the future. While Klitschko will probably always have chin issues and thus there’s a chance Rahman could throw the miracle punch as he did against Lennox Lewis, the odds of it happening are astronomically long this time, and he’s almost certainly going to get knocked out with little ceremony. Klitschko likes to take his time and warm up, so let’s say…7th round.
Nothing here is as high profile as last week’s event, but for the serious fight fan there’s a lot to be interested in.