Yesterday in this space I looked at the current crop of the heavyweight division. I discussed the tragic mental health decline of Tyson Fury, the man who beat the man and still deserves to be ranked No. 1 in the division, even if he ultimately does not succeed in defending his title. I discussed Wladimir Klitschko, the man who Fury defeated, one of the longest reigning heavyweight champions in history.
I discussed Luis Ortiz, in my estimation the most dangerous fighter in the division. I discussed young belt holders Anthony Joshua and Deontay Wilder, a pair of KO artists, hopefully destined for a collision course.
One name I did not mention was David Haye. His inactivity in recent years makes him easy to overlook, but his explosive athleticism means he ultimately cannot be overlooked. On Wednesday, Haye tweeted his intention to return to action on December 10.
Haye launched his career as a cruiserweight, where he was a dominant knockout machine. At 200 pounds, he was 20-1, with 19 KOs. Before moving to heavyweight, he unified the WBO, WBA and WBC cruiserweight belts.
He moved to heavyweight in November 2008 and knocked out journeyman Monte Barret in his first fight there. A year later, he captured the WBA heavyweight belt from Russia’s Nikolai Value, via majority decision. Valuev is a literal giant–seven feet tall and well over 300 pounds. Haye’s win over him was ugly, but few fighters could face an opponent with Valuev’s physical dimensions and look graceful.
Haye defended the WBA belt twice, knocking out John Ruiz and Audley Harrison, before losing by decision to Klitschko in July 2011.
In July 2012, Haye knocked out tough Dereck Chisora in five rounds. It was the kind of win that demonstrated he remained one of the division’s best fighters. unfortunately, he followed that win with three-and-a-half years of inactivity. Twice he was supposed to be set to face Fury, only to cancel the fight due to injury.
Since returning last January, Haye has demolished Mark de Mori and Arnold Gjergjaj, two opponents with a combined record of 59-1-2, but nobody of note on their resumes.
Haye’s December opponent is likely to be another non-entity. At this point, he appears to be mainly staying active and sharp while angling for a big fight in the post-Klitschko universe. He’s still just 35, aging, but hardly ancient, for a heavyweight contender.