Sunday, August 14, 2022  |



Haye might’ve made a mistake


Measured against the laughably low ethical standards that unofficially regulate the business of boxing, there was nothing unusual or particularly unethical about the way David Haye and Adam Booth screwed over first Wladimir and then Vitali Klitschko in favor of a fight with Nikolai Valuev in November.

For a veteran snake like Shelley Finkel to cry foul over Haye’s having back-doored him is to give voice to the uncomfortable realization that they did it to him before he could do it to them. That’s just the way big business is. Sometimes you’re the pigeon, sometimes you’re Don King.

Most view as poppycock Haye’s claim to have disliked the “slave” contract he was offered to fight Big Brother, as it reportedly was the same contract he had signed to fight Little Brother, which, you will recall, was voided when Haye suffered an “injury.”

Still, it’s not at all unusual in these days of plastic belts and plastic title holders for a guy to try to get his hands on a belt before he fights another guy with a belt, so that when the big fight finally comes, he can use his belt as a bargaining chip.

I can’t imagine what a WBA belt is worth these days at the negotiating table, as I ran into a guy at the bowling alley yesterday who had one and another one this morning at Wal-Mart. But hey, it’s not my career.

At any rate, what may have seemed like a smart move at the time by Booth and Haye may prove in the long run to have been short-sighted and, well, dumb.

“Blowing off the Klitschkos is not a good boxing move, not if he’s moving on to fighting something worse in Valuev,” long-time manager Stan Hoffman told

“Valuev, except for his height and weight is not in the same league as the Klitschkos. Yeah, he wins his fights, and yeah he’s big, and yeah, these guys can’t get to him and knock him out, but you can knock him out if you box him. I think David Haye will be expected to beat him and will look bad beating him.”

But a win is a win, after all, and Haye would have been an underdog to either Klitschko. Isn’t a win always better than a loss?

“Money-wise, prestige wise, everything else wise, even if he were to lose to the Klitschkos, I think he’s making a mistake. If I were his manager, I would have opted to fight one of the Klitschkos. A win, or even if he doesn’t lose badly, makes him look better (if he’s) fighting the best guy.

“Also because of his mouth,” Hoffman continued. “He ran his mouth about how he’s not afraid of them, he can beat both of them in one night and all of that stuff, and now he’s going in with a guy that, if there are 6 billion and one people on this earth, 6 billion of them would say, Valuev? Who’s he?”

Also, not that it’s unprecedented, but Haye is making no friends in the business by using his very active mouth to leap-frog over other, more deserving heavyweights, some of whom have beaten guys even better than, ahem, Monte Barrett.

“He’s going on his third world title fight (offer) in the heavyweight division if the WBA sanctions it,” said Henry Ramirez, Chris Arreola’s trainer.

Ramirez forgets that WBA officials would sanction a fight between my accountant and my mailman so long as they could collect a fee.

I’m kidding, of course. I don’t have an accountant.

Nevertheless, Ramirez’s point is well taken. And he’s not done.

“If you’re aiming to fight the best, you’re trying to fight the Klitschkos,” he said. “If you’re trying to find the easier route to a world title belt, obviously you go with Valuev. He may beat Valuev, but to be honest I hope he doesn’t. It’s sad to say but this guy has kind of held the heavyweight division hostage over the past year.

“He comes into the division running his mouth, fights Monte Barrett, was basically given a world title fight because he dissed the Klitschkos so much, and then he pulls out — twice. To be honest I hope the Klitschkos never deal with him again.”

(Somewhat ironically, Arreola might benefit from Haye’s shenanigans: He was offered a shot at Vitali in Haye’s place on Sept. 21, but Ramirez has declined, saying he wants Arreola to have a full eight or nine weeks in camp. Ramirez is hoping for a late-September, early-October date.)

It all may work out in the end for Haye. Maybe he outboxes Valuev; if 117-year-old Evander Holyfield could do it, why not Haye?

Or, maybe Valuev, as ponderous as he is, reaches Haye’s dainty chin with one of those Volkswagen-sized right hands and Haye goes to sleep — on a pile of money considerably smaller than the one he’d have gotten to fight either of the Brothers Klitschko.

It will be fun watching how this one plays out.

Some random observations from last week:

I hope Klitschko-Arreola happens. You have to make Klitschko the favorite, but Arreola won’t sit outside eating jabs all night like Sam Peter and Juan Carlos Gomez did. He’ll get in Klitschko’s spleen or get knocked out trying. ÔǪ

I wrote last week about the high incidence of prizefighters dying violent, chaotic deaths. The best available information indicates that outside the ring Vernon Forrest lived neither violently nor chaotically. He joins his brethren nevertheless.

According to reports, Forrest chased after the garbage who grabbed his wallet and ran, after which he stopped, turned around and was shot in the back. Yes, that was reckless. Most of us wouldn’t have done that. We’d have handed over the keys, run the other way and then thrown up. Not Forrest. Isn’t that just like a fighter? But give him this: He died like a man. And so too did Marco Antonio Nazareth, by the way. ÔǪ

Arturo Gatti probably would have been inducted anyway into the Hall of Fame based on the affection he engendered from fight folks. Now he’s a lock. ÔǪ

Would someone please tell the 4,000-plus screaming lunatics in El Paso Friday Night that boxing is dead? They seem to have missed the email. 

If the producers had let the argument between Brian Kenny and Teddy Atlas run a little longer on Friday Night Fights, I think Atlas might have dropped the F-bomb. Wouldn’t that have been fun? ÔǪ

It’s time to abolish this silly mouthpiece rule, don’t you think? Here we have guys banging each other’s brains around inside their skulls and we’re all concerned about them getting a fat lip or chipped tooth. What are we worried about, making sure that 25 years down the road they have the nicest smiles in the dementia ward? ÔǪ

Kudos to Miguel Acosta and Jose Berranza, who scored upsets Friday night against Urbano Antillon and Juan Velasquez, respectively. There’s nothing harder to do in this world than believe in yourself when no one else does. ÔǪ

If fighters threw as many body punches as analysts wanted them to, no one would ever get knocked out. 

I’ve gotten my hands on a list of all the people who care that Roy Jones Jr. is fighting Jeff Lacy. Here it is: Roy Jones. ÔǪ

I knew Cornelius Lock wouldn’t be able to stay out of the way of Antonio Escalante’s punches when I saw Cornelius Boza-Edwards working Lock’s corner. I remember Boza-Edwards as a fighter. Nice guy. Fair boxer. But he couldn’t get out of the way of a punch if he had a time machine. ÔǪ

Hey ESPN, how about picking a time for “Friday Night Fights” and sticking to it?

Bill Dettloff can be reached at [email protected]