DogHouseBoxing Speaks with David Haye
Interview by Adam Williamson (March 3, 2005)
David Haye’s career to date is best described by one word - turbulent. Turning pro at the end of 2002 after a successful amateur career Haye set his sights on reaching the very top - as soon as possible. Haye’s first ten fights had almost everybody in British boxing - rival promoters aside - talking about the Bermondsey man as the brightest prospect the country had to offer.
However, turbulent is also the word to describe his most noteworthy fight, a defeat to IBO champion Carl Thompson last September. Haye came out showing little, if any, respect to Thompson and threw approximately 120 punches in the first round. The Cat survived the early onslaught and went on to stop Haye in the fifth. Haye’s critics had a field day, questioning 24-year-old’s mental approach and claiming he arrogantly under-estimated the veteran.
Haye was quick to bounce back with two tune-up victories and on Friday will look to take another step up in class by taking on 33-year-old Australian Glen Kelly, on the undercard of Clinton Woods’ IBF light-heavyweight title contest against Rico Hoye. Kelly is best known outside his home country for losing to Roy Jones in seven rounds in 2002. Jones famously knocked Kelly out after putting his hands behind his own back, and countering the Aussie with a quick right hand. Like the majority of Jones’ opponents, Kelly didn’t set the world alight that night. Kelly has since moved up to cruiserweight where he has earned a #9 ranking from the WBC.
Read on as Haye assures us that Kelly is better than the Roy Jones fight may have us believe. David also gives us his thoughts on his defeat to Carl Thompson, his domestic rivals and his future beyond his upcoming fight.
Adam Williamson: How is training going ahead of your March 4th clash with Glen Kelly?
David Haye: Good. I’ve been training nice and hard, haven’t had any injuries. Yeah it’s going smooth, just tapering down now with a few days to go, taking it easy.
AW: Outside Australia Kelly is only really known for losing emphatically to Roy Jones, can you assure us that Kelly has more than what he showed on that night?
DH: Yeah. I saw him in a fight the other day with Simon Paterson and he’s completely different. Different style, completely different body shape - he’s obviously done a lot of weight training to get himself up to the cruiserweight limit. I read a couple of his interviews and he’s said he has always struggled to make the light-heavyweight limit. Maybe he’s more of a natural, well not a fully-fledged cruiserweight but I think he’s stuck between light-heavy and cruiser.
AW: What are his strengths?
DH: Believe it or not, his awkwardness. He moves a lot. I think a lot of people who have seen his fight against Roy Jones would think that he is going to come out with a high held guard and will remember Jeff Fenech screaming at him to push Jones back. But that is completely opposite to his natural style. He is more of a counter puncher, with a lot of head and foot movement so I think I will be chasing him quite a bit to be honest.
AW: Kelly is ranked #9 Cruiserweight by the WBC, is this the main reason for you taking this fight?
DH: It’s one of the reasons why I chose to take this fight. I said from day one that I want to be world ranked. That’s the only way that you are going to get a world title fight you have to go up the ratings. To get up there you have to fight guys ranked a lot higher than you. I don’t want to be left scratching around on the domestic circuit, trying to claim that I want to fight for a world title. You’ve got to get out there and work your way up the rankings. Whether people think that I am ready or not is irrelevant, fact is I want to fight the world champions out there because if I fight to my potential I can box really well and beat pretty much anyone in the world.
AW: You are young, and don’t have an abundance of professional ring experience. Why are you looking to progress up the rankings so quickly?
DH: Because I want to fight for world titles. That’s how I did it as an amateur they said that I ‘rushed in the deep end blah blah blah’ but that’s how my whole boxing career has gone since I was 17. I was fighting some of the top guys in the world as an international amateur and have been on the circuit since I was 17. People said I was too young yet I went out there and got good results against world ranked and world-class seniors. It was tough to start off with, I lost a fight here and there but I adapted and started winning and that might be a similar situation to me as a pro.
I tried to jump up the ratings by fighting (Carl) Thompson and fell short, but I think after that defeat I am a stronger and better person. I know more about myself and what needs to be done to get to the top, opposed to fighting some chump that I will knock over, or 20 chumps I will knock over. If you go 10 rounds against someone who is not punching back you are not really learning. Sometimes you have to learn from a loss. Nobody likes to lose, I hate losing, but sometimes you need to know what is the wrong thing to do, to know what the right thing is.
AW: Based on that approach, if for whatever reason a world title shot came out of the blue. Would you consider taking it? Are you confident you are ready?
DH: Yeah, yeah I would. That’s what I have always done, what I will always do. People think that I am a bit of a kamikaze style person. Maybe, I like rolling the dice.
The reason why people are losing interest in the sport is because promoters look after their fighters too much, or rather looking after their own interests, just trying to sell tickets rather than a genuine fight.
AW: Many would say you got taught a lesson by Carl Thompson when he beat you in five rounds last year. What did you learn from that fight?
DH: I learnt that you have got to stick to your guns, stick to your game plan. All boxers think they know best. If you’ve got a game plan you should stick to it. If the game plan doesn’t work, then you’ve got to revert to something else. I just went out there and did exactly what I wanted to do as opposed to what I trained to do, and I came unstuck.
AW: So what was the actual game plan that night?
DH: Outbox him, use my ability. Whenever I’ve really tried to knock someone out I’ve never knocked them out, just cuffed them and slapped them. The shots when I have really hurt people and put them down is when I am relaxed and they tend to walk on to the shots. That’s been something I’ve done since the amateurs. I’ve tried to force the action a bit too much. That’s exactly what I did in that fight and I have learnt from it and I won’t be making those mistakes again.
If you look at my last fight with Garry Delaney I came out with a different mindset and he was expecting me to come out in a similar way as I did with Thompson…and that would have worked to his advantage.
I’m glad that it was Carl Thompson that has got the win over me. I only intend on having that one defeat on my record and I’m glad it is someone as honourable as Carl Thompson. He is, and I’m not just saying this, one of my favourite fighters in recent years.
AW: …ok, but having said that, you came in throwing way over 100 punches in the first round. You didn’t show him the respect he deserves, did you?
DH: No I didn’t. Without a doubt, if I showed him the respect that was due I would have stuck to my game plan. When the bell rang, I went out there and when I started hitting him I could see my shots were having big effects, I could see his eyes rolling around in his head and I could see that he was on shaky legs. I should have known that is his style. With my stupidity and naivety I just wanted to close the show a bit too quickly. That’s his game, he’s been there a million times, I haven’t and he knew what he was doing. He deserved the win.
AW: Some critics have said that your training regime and preparation for Thompson was too relaxed? Looking back now, do you agree? And have you made any changes to your training regime since?
DH: After every fight I always change my training regime, I never do the same training for every fight because your body needs to adapt. Always changing things; changing the runs, weight training, sparring.
People like to say what they think I’m doing but there is nobody out there, besides two or three people, who actually know what I do in the gym. That’s how I like it to be. Because I’m not in a typical ‘spit and sawdust’ boxing gym people assume that I am not doing the right thing. And obviously after the Thompson fight people jumped up and said ‘I told you he wasn’t doing the right things’. If that’s what they want to believe I’ll let them believe it, it doesn’t bother me.
I’m happy with my training. That fight wasn’t a reflection of my training it was a reflection of my mental capabilities. I wasn’t mentally on point and in the future I will be and you won’t see anymore of those poxy performances.
AW: Does the Carl Thompson rematch still interest you?
DH: On Friday I would have had three fights since the Thompson fight, which is pretty good, and he still hasn’t had the rematch with (Sebastian) Rothmann yet. I said even straight after the fight that I enjoyed it, except from getting my arse kicked! I’d want that fight whenever it is available. It hasn’t really been brought up because I think Thompson is obligated to fight Rothmann. Maybe I’ll have to work my way up the rankings. If I was to win a world title I’d love to give Thompson a crack at it.
AW: But you don’t really see it as a possibility for this year?
DH: I hope so. Put it this way, I’d do whatever I can to try to make that rematch happen. Nobody likes having a loss on their record, the only thing you can do with a loss is to try to avenge it. It’s not just up to me to say ‘I want to fight Thompson’, there is a lot of other people involved, contracts, options etc...
AW: You have yet to complete five rounds in a single boxing match. Does this concern you? Have you got any doubts about doing 10 to 12 rounds?
DH: If I come out to fight the way I train to fight then I should be okay. No I haven’t really got any doubts.
AW: You have been nominated to fight Buster Keeton in a British title eliminator. You’ve stated that Keeton wouldn’t be good enough as a sparring partner, yet you still haven’t officially pulled out of the purse bids. So are you still considering a fight with Keeton?
DH: Nah, I’ve got bigger fish to fry.
AW: But it’s a British title eliminator, doesn’t that interest you?
DH: Any fight can be a ‘British title eliminator’. I could box Buster Keeton in an eliminator, and then they could say ‘box Lee Swaby’ in another ‘eliminator’, and then box Bruce Scott in a ‘final eliminator’. I could win all these eliminators and then Mark Hobson could go, ‘okay I am relinquishing my British title’. What is the point in that? I am trying to fight for world titles now. I wanted to fight for the British title a while back and nobody was interested.
AW: The Lonsdale belt is a prestigious prize that a lot of young boxers dream of winning. Don’t you share that dream?
DH: I did do but it is about who you are fighting. If you have got to fight ‘Joe Bloggs’ for a title then it loses credibility, but if there is a champion who the public really want me to fight, who wants to fight me, then yeah it would mean something. If there is nobody to fight then I will go elsewhere. My goal is to be number one in the world.
AW: What about the Mark Hobson…
DH: …I’m bored of that whole situation now. We tried on numerous occasions to try and make that fight happen but it doesn’t look like it will. If the British champion doesn’t want to defend it against the fighter people want to see him defend against then that’s cool. He can hold on to his title forever.
AW: What was the specific reason why that fight didn’t happen?
DH: There is no specific reason, it just didn’t happen. It wasn’t because I didn’t want to fight him. That is one thing you can be sure about. People can always find a reason why not to fight you. There are a million and one reasons why not to fight someone and a million and one ways of getting out of the fight that you don’t want. People can say what they want, but I can’t be bothered with it. I’m bored with it. All the moaning and nit-picking, it is just stupidness. I just want to get on with my career, let the domestic boys do what they want to do. I’m just focusing on getting a major world title shot and that’s it.
AW: Okay, a fight that was reportedly offered to you is a fight between yourself and (WBU champion) Enzo Maccarinelli. Frank Warren claims he met you and Adam Booth and offered the fight, why didn’t you take it?
DH: Nah, I never met him. I think I was at the Danny Williams-Michael Sprott, their last fight. Warren was there and I think something may have been said, just in passing, 10-15 seconds. That was the last I heard of it. If that fight was available, then I’d want it. It’s not about me not wanting to fight people. Everyone knows what type of person I am, that I am up for a challenge and up for fighting people who the public want me to fight. I think Enzo Maccarinelli is a very good fighter, if the fight can happen I think it will be exciting, catch the public’s imagination and it would be exciting while it lasts.
AW: But it was never formally offered?
DH: No, nothing was formally offered. Nothing has been offered either way. I have got a contract with the BBC, he’s got a contract with SKY so it was never really going to happen. But with the big changes in boxing you never know what is going to happen in the not too distant future.
AW: Your and Fight Academy’s deal with the BBC is due to come to an end. TV coverage will be hard to come by. How important to you is it that your fights are on television?
DH: It’s important because you want people to see you fight. It’s hard to get the money for the big fights without the television coverage, unless you sell 15,000 tickets, which I don’t do.
I’m going to have to cross that bridge (not having TV coverage) when I come to it. I’m sure that the way my career has gone so far that I am not one of the most unmarketable fighters. If anyone is going to struggle, I doubt that it is going to be me.
AW: If yourself and Fight Academy are to really struggle with regards to TV deals, will you perhaps have to look elsewhere?
DH: I’m literally just going to cross that bridge when I get to it. Fight Academy have been brilliant so far in getting me the fights that I want, putting on good shows - there is a lot of good 50-50 fights on their shows so hopefully they can pull something out of the bag. I have got a lot of confidence in them, they have produced the goods so far so I have no reason to doubt them.
AW: Ok, back to the Kelly fight. Are you going to give us a prediction?
DH: No, just that I am going to win.
AW: He’s been knocked out a couple of times, perhaps by lesser punchers than yourself. Is a knockout on the cards?
DH: If I box to my ability I think I could knock anybody out. If he walks on to one of my big ‘Hayemakers’ then it will be good night.
AW: Say you beat him, what are you looking for next?
DH: Just to keep working my way up the rankings until I am #1 contender.
Doghouse Boxing would like to thank David for taking the time and effort to make this interview possible. We wish him the best of luck for the future.
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