The Pugilist

David Haye is no coward – but he is rather foolish

The Pugilist

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Following David Haye’s withdrawal from the big fight against Tyson Fury which was scheduled to take place this coming Saturday, he has been labelled as a whole host of unpleasant things.

‘Coward’ and ‘con-man’ and their numerous synonyms appear to be the most prevalent, as an understandably-unimpressed British public tee off on the man responsible for one of the most anticipated bouts in quite some time on these shores being called off a week in advance.

Here’s the thing: there’s nothing cowardly about Haye calling off the Fury showdown.

Look at the cut above. While many will mock it as ‘just a boo-boo’ and regard it as a poor reason to shut down a card set for pay-per-view at the weekend, that is the sort of wound that can easily be re-opened by one or two jabs, sending blood into Haye’s eye as early as the first round without hardly taking any real damage.

A scenario like that just isn’t a fair fight from the beginning, and any type of result had the bout taken place would have been overshadowed by the cut.

So, no: David Haye is no ‘coward’ or ‘con-man’ for pulling out of the fight.

What this is, however, is bloody stupid for someone in such a potentially lucrative position.

While the decision made over the cut is right, the fact that Haye, apparently one of the nation’s finest boxers – if you believe his own words – was in a position to be opened up to that extent by a SPARRING PARTNER is almost as ridiculous as his turn on I’m A Celebrity, Get Me Out Of Here!.

Firstly, the man being credited with cutting Haye is Filip Hrgovic. A 21-year-old Croatian with decent promise, but nonetheless a completely inexperienced boxer at this stage. He has mostly competed in the World Series of Boxing events over the last couple of years, featuring boxers bridging the gap from amateur to pro.

Had someone as low on the totem pole as Hrgovic suddenly come out and challenged Haye to a pro fight, chances are the Londoner would have laughed. In fact, he’s already claimed that his sparring partners would do a number on Fury.

And yet, there Haye is, sparring the rookie without headgear (reportedly 'for as close to a real fight experience as possible') and sustaining a cut so concerning that a contest both combatants could not stop reminding us was huge, with plenty of mainstream interest, is now off.

How arrogant and short-sighted does one man have to be to leave themselves wide open to such a calamitous turn of events in such a big position?

Next, a little context. Haye has now withdrawn from two fights this year, having also pulled out of a June 29 bout with Manuel Charr.

Whenever he does return to the ring, whether against Fury or someone else, Haye will no doubt litter the post-fight media barrage with talk of fighting a Klitschko once again and challenging for a world title once again, assuming he wins.

At this rate, though, is he even going to make it to such a fight in one piece? Even if he did, after his ‘broken toe’ claims in a hideously-tame 2011 defeat to Wladimir, is anyone going to even bother financially committing to a fight which, if it is not cancelled, might be a tedious shutout loss for the Brit?

Lastly, though the eye injury is legit, it only serves to further diminish the credibility of blaming his Klitschko performance on his toe. Worse, his injury-based excuses are mounting, and diluting the power of the things he says in the hype period for fights.

Knowing now that Haye’s world title chances hinge on either bullying cruiserweights as a natural heavyweight, or winning the foot race to take on freaks such as Nikolai Valuev while they’re inexplicably in ownership of gold, his gift of gab is his meal ticket, so to speak.

The more he disappoints like this, the more people will stop caring.

So no, David Haye is not a coward, he has not fabricated an excuse, and he is not conning the public out of money which will now be refunded.

What he is, however, is guilty of nearly running his own career off a cliff.

All the verbal exchanges with Fury, all the advertising inserts between programming and all the promise of a fight between two boxers who usually fail to inspire with their selection of opponents - all of this damaged beyond repair, even if the two agree a new date for their meeting.

“Watch me beat Tyson Fury, Saturday September 28, live on pay-per-view.”

If only Haye’s words were a headguard.

Liam Happe | Follow on Twitter

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