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Pundits' view on David Haye v Audley Harrison

Haye and Harrison trade verbal blows

By Nabil Hassan

If November's fight between David Haye and Audley Harrison is as entertaining as Tuesday's press conference, British boxing fans are in for real treat when the pair meet at the MEN Arena in Manchester.

Haye, the WBA heavyweight champion, and Harrison, the former Olympic gold medallist, were in fine form as they traded insults as their fight on 13 November was announced at a news conference in London.

606: DEBATE
BBC Sport's Nabil Hassan

But how did Haye, one of the most valuable assets in world boxing and the so-called saviour of the heavyweight division, agree to fight a man who this time last year was fighting in the knock-out Prizefighter tournament?

BBC Sport boxing commentator Mike Costello and pundit Steve Bunce analyse how the fight came to happen and what it means for both fighters.

WHY IS HAYE FIGHTING HARRISON?

Costello: "It's a business deal.

"I know boxers who have walked away from this sport with nothing, so the chance for somebody to earn money for what on the outside seems very little risk is not a problem for me. That's why guys turn professional in the first place.

"The question David Haye has to answer is, how does he justify taking a fight like this given that when he came into the heavyweight division he said he was going to revitalise it?

Bad blood between us - Harrison

"He said he was going to take on two top-10 contenders and then face either of the Klitschkos and although he did say he was going to fight for a world title which he did, the question he will have to answer before he retires, is, why didn't he take on either of the Klitschkos?

"In terms of credibility and reputation, this fight is going to do zero for him. In terms of bank balance and in terms of boxing as a business there is not a better fight out there."

Bunce: "This fight has happened because the Klitschko brothers, who hold the other versions of the world title, demanded too much of David and offered too little.

"So David did the sensible thing - he's a businessman after all and he can't fight in deficit. He found a fight that was going to provide him with a major platform and a lot of money. It's also happening because David says Audley doesn't deserve this fight but he says the public have demanded it.

"There are a few hundred people inside boxing circles who are saying this fight is terrible. Garbage. There have been fights like this since boxing started. This fits in with tradition. This is a popular fight. It will sell out. It will break records on Sky Box Office and it will break records on BBC Radio 5 live on the night."

WILL HAYE EVER FIGHT THE KLITSCHKO BROTHERS?

Costello: "At this stage it doesn't seem like they are going to meet on common ground.

"The Klitschkos are adamant that they are offering 50-50. Haye is adamant they are not. Without evidence and access to the paperwork we don't know.

Harrison is a joke - Haye

"Haye was saying he was belittled by them this time last year when he didn't have a title and therefore he had much less bargaining power. They gave him a deal to reflect that, which he said was almost an insult. Now he has much more bargaining power.

"To what extent does he keep driving for what he wants at the expense of his legacy?

"He is going to wind up like Floyd Mayweather. For all the great things Floyd Mayweather has achieved people are always going to say that for whatever reason, he never fought Manny Pacquiao.

"And David, whatever he does from here on in, if he doesn't fight either of the Klitschko brothers it will affect his legacy."

WHAT DOES THIS FIGHT SAY ABOUT THE STATE OF THE HEAVYWEIGHT DIVISION?

Costello: "It says nothing changes.

"There has been a lot of carping about this fight but in 1976, Richard Dunn won the European title and two months later he was fighting Muhammad Ali.

"Because Dunn was likeable, cuddly and got on well with the media, no-one had a dig at him.

"Everyone said 'what a wonderful opportunity' yet Audley Harrison, because he doesn't have that type of personality, is getting hammered by fans and by the media, who say he doesn't deserve this shot.

"If you look at form, just because somebody has beaten Michael Sprott does not really qualify them for a world title. But Audley won a European title and if you look through history a European title, even if they are devalued these days, still gives a fighter in any weight division a fairly lofty ranking."

WHY IS THIS FIGHT SO POPULAR?

Bunce: "This fight is so popular because Audley Harrison was watched by nearly seven million people at five in the morning when he won the Olympic gold medal 10 years ago.

David Haye lands a right hook

Listen to 5 live commentary as Haye clinches the title

"He has got a great voice and a great profile. Haye is exciting, he went over and fought Nikolay Valuev and put boxing on the back pages.

"He's good looking and is a good talker. These two were friends and that's why this night is called 'The Best of Enemies'. I've been with these guys over the years and they were inseparable. Something has happened and what you heard between those two today was genuine animosity.

"There is needle involved and this fight has got just about everything. You've got the old face and the new face. The heavyweight title is on the line and it's got two guys who genuinely dislike each other and who in private will admit, if they get hit on the chin, they will get beat."

CAN AUDLEY WIN?

Bunce: "Absolutely.

"As Audley says, Haye is vulnerable to shots and is more likely to let his heart rule his head and fight like an idiot. I don't think Audley will do that and any heavyweight who fights like an idiot is likely to get knocked out.

"You've got two guys who have proved in the ring they can knock people out so the first person that makes a mistake could be out of there. I don't think Audley will win but he's got a shot. This is not the mismatch that some are making it out to be."

Costello: "Audley has talked his way into the fight. By the time fight time comes around, what he says will make you think twice about whether he really has a chance.

"At the moment I don't really give him a chance. There are people talking about him having a puncher's chance but if you look through history how many fellows going into a fight with only a puncher's chance come out on top?

This fight has got that sort of aura about it. And you sense there is a bit of a tide turning against Haye also for taking the fight

Mike Costello

"Down the years he's become such a figure of hate and that has always been an important ingredient on a fight poster. If one side of the poster includes a figure of hate, those are generally the fights that sell.

"Look at our own history. The atmosphere as Naseem Hamed and Chris Eubank walked into the ring was seething because as many people wanted them to lose as wanted them to win but Muhammad Ali always said: 'Let them come, as long as their cheques don't bounce.'

"This fight has got that sort of aura about it and you sense there is a bit of a tide turning against Haye for taking the fight.

"At the start of the year, if you'd said this fight would have happened before the end of 2010 you'd be laughed out of any joint but here it is and it's because of the two personalities of both men and one punch [against Sprott] has turned Audley Harrison's career around."



see also
Harrison to take on champion Haye
07 Sep 10 |  Boxing
Haye and Harrison camps in talks
08 Jun 10 |  Boxing
Chagaev targets Haye title tilt
22 May 10 |  Boxing
Last-gasp Harrison stops Sprott
09 Apr 10 |  Boxing
Haye set to start Klitschko talks
13 Apr 10 |  Boxing
Harrison eyes Klitschko brothers
22 Feb 10 |  Boxing
Haye stops Ruiz to retain title
03 Apr 10 |  Boxing
Harrison wins Prizefighter title
03 Oct 09 |  Boxing


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