The hype is over, the result is what was predicted by many: David Haye remains the holder of the WBA Heavyweight title, while Audley Harrison will now hopefully retire before he gets some serious damage done to him. It took just three rounds for Haye to show that he had far too much speed and power for the former Olympic Champion, who didn’t throw a meaningful punch in the whole fight.
In terms of entertainment, it has to be said that in the actual fight there was maybe 90 seconds worth watching. Haye claimed that effectively it only went three rounds because he chose to allow it to; whether that’s true or not, the first two rounds were painful to watch. For anyone that reckons that the typical Klitschko fight is a dull spectacle, the first two rounds stunk as badly as any that you’ll see anywhere with neither boxer looking like they wanted to take any risks whatsoever. Harrison plodded after Haye, who seemed to want to make sure he kept well out of range of Harrison’s fists; the Manchester crowd were soon getting restless, and during the second round even the Referee showed signs of discontent as he tried to urge the two boxers to at least attempt to fight rather than do a soft shoe shuffle around the ring.
Finally Haye took the initiative in Round 3, eventually catching up with Harrison by the ropes and launching a flurry of solid punches that put the challenger down; he made the eight count, but seconds later with Haye firing at will and no sign of any response from Harrison the fight was stopped. About the best that could be said about Harrison was that he showed some bravery to stand up to Haye’s punches and to get up after the knockdown; but you couldn’t help feeling that Haye has had many harder sparring sessions than this bout proved to be.
The problem for Haye with the result is that he gains little credibility from it. Yes, he won; yes, he convincingly KO’d his opponent. But Harrison hadn’t proved to anyone that he deserved a shot in the first place, has never operated at this level before, and was really only there because a significant proportion of the British Boxing Public would be prepared to pay in order to see his World Title ambitions finally exposed as the fantasy they have looked to be for at least the last 5 years. Haye did what was expected, was not remotely tested, and for all of his bluster criticising the Klitschko Brothers for the quality of recent opponents he really doesn’t have a leg to stand on after taking what was widely seen as a very safe fight against an opponent whose best days were clearly a decade behind him and in the Amateur ranks at that.
So we know no more about Haye’s chin. No more about his defence. No more about his stamina. He demonstrated speed and power – but we knew he had those anyway. He brings no more to the negotiating table with the Klitschkos than he did before, and therefore is unlikely to expect a better deal. If Haye can’t get Vitali and/or Wladimir to move on the subject of rematch clauses (what I believe to be the main sticking-point in negotiations now) he needs to either bite the bullet and go for it anyway, or at least start fighting Top 10 fighters. Haye vs the Klitshckos may be the most attractive match-up in the division at the moment; but, with sellouts guaranteed in Germany for the two Ukrainians, you get the feeling that Haye now needs them at least as much as they need him.