The answer to David Haye's mismatch comeback?
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Despite being undefeated in 29 fights and boasting an impressive knockout percentage, there was a severe gulf in ability which became apparent on fight night. Haye landed at will, dropping his man three times – including once with a jab.
Immediately after the contest, questions were asked about Haye’s opponent and the second grotesquely unfair mismatch of his ring return. Haye affirmed that “The Cobra” was a credible opponent due to his unbeaten record and his 6’5″ frame. Few have bought into this argument, and an upcoming match with Shannon Briggs doesn’t seem to offer Haye’s career reboot much in return.
Conversely, Tony Bellew upset the odds and knocked out Ilunga Makabu in two rounds on 29th May. Seen as an underdog going into the right, the lifelong Everton fan climbed off the canvas to halt his man in front of a raucous crowd at Goodison Park.
Bellew, now the WBC cruiserweight champion, gave a passionate interview following the contest in which he called out near enough anyone with a pro boxing license – including David Haye.
Haye was once the unified cruiserweight king, holding the WBA, WBO and WBC belts before moving up to heavyweight and securing a world title in a second weight class. The Bermondsey man hasn’t campaigned at cruiserweight since 2008, but an all-British showdown with Bellew could be the remedy to the Londoner’s mismatch comeback.
A crucial factor behind Haye’s poor opposition since his return is the fact he is fighting on free-to-air television. The lack of revenue generated by this method of broadcasting when compared to Sky or Sky Box Office means the big names in boxing simply cannot be enticed to make the journey over to the UK. In contrast, Eddie Hearn and Matchroom promotions – who have an exclusive broadcasting deal with Sky – were able to afford to pay for Makabu to come over to Bellew’s hometown to compete for the WBC belt.
This is how the Bellew fight might call an end to Haye’s string of limited opposition. Whilst the fight doesn’t make a great deal of sense on paper as both operate in different weight classes, it will draw enough money to entice Haye into taking on a world champion in Bellew.
Whether Bellew’s title will be on the line or if the bout will be at a catchweight or the cruiserweight limit all remains to be seen, but this move could be the catalyst for Haye to get back amongst world level opposition. As the chance of bringing top class fighters to free-to-air television seems less and less likely, teaming with Sky will be a good step for the Londoner in the direction of IBF heavyweight king, Anthony Joshua.