David Haye returned to action on Saturday night at the O2 Arena in London, knocking out overmatched Mark de Mori in 2:11 of Round 1. de Mori had built an impressive looking record fighting obscure opponents, so I don’t think anybody expected him to give Haye much of a battle. Few knowledgeable observers probably expected him to finish on his feet.
Still, the quick night of work for Haye was a good sign, indicating that the athletic Brit still retains his explosive power after a break of three-and-a-half years. The punch that finished it was a big overhand right, with de Mori out cold before he hit the canvas.
Haye’s last fight was a Round 5 TKO of the rugged Dereck Chisora in July 2012. A highly anticipated showdown with Tyson Fury was delayed twice, before Haye finally retired in 2013, following shoulder surgery.
I don’t think it’s a coincidence that Haye is returning to action now, just as the heavyweight division appears to have entered the post-Klitschko era. Haye’s 2011 loss to Wladimir Klitschko was a one-sided embarrasment, with Haye flopping to the canvas again and again, like a soccer player.
But at 35, Haye still represents a dangerous proposition for most of the sport’s big men. He was a dominant champion at cruiserweight, but he carried his power with him when he moved up in class.
At heavyweight, Haye was a belt holder, winning the WBA title from the gigantic Russian, Nicolai Valuev, by majority decision in November 2009. That fight was a snooze-fest, but if you had to pick somebody to win it, Haye was a fair choice. He defended the belt twice before losing to Klitschko, knocking out fringe contender Audley Harrison and a 38-year-old, well-worn John Ruiz.
David Haye is a welcome addition to the current heavyweight picture, to be sure. His power and speed will make him an interesting matchup for any top-10 fighter. A long-delayed clash with Tyson Fury would bring great excitement to the English domestic scene, and would draw plenty of interest on this side of the pond, as well.