Sport on TV: Haye sets out to be a Paxman who really packs a punch
Sunday 03 July 2011
Let's get ready to grumble. What a relief it was to get the Haye-Klitschko dust-up out of the way. Or at least all the pre-fight foul-mouthing by the big bad Brit, anyway. David Haye is one step closer to his real ambition in life, to be a Hollywood lightweight, and the rest of us can look forward to him only getting a couple of lines as the new Vinny Jones of the silver screen rather than enduring endless torrents of unpleasant nonsense.
Before the fight, he made two programmes called David Haye Vs... (Sky One, Tuesday and Wednesday) in which he invited celebrities to join him in the ring for some verbal sparring of a gentler nature. He wasn't introduced as a boxer, though, but as a "red carpet megastar and loud-mouthed entertainer".
He didn't look too flash when they showed footage of him accosting Wladimir Klitschko, seemingly in some shopping centre. "Stop fighting these bums," Haye hissed. "You can't hide." Well, he could have slipped into the changing rooms at Burton – assuming that Burton still exists.
It made for an interesting new format for the chatshow, conducting an interview while your guests try to pummel the hell out of you. Who needs Graham Norton's Red Chair when you've got David Haye's Right Fist? But given the calibre of his guests, he was always likely to pull his punches. Dizzie Rascal seemed like he could look after himself but surely Justin Bieber and Michael McIntyre wouldn't be all that tough?
In fact, both went to work with a vengeance. Perhaps the boxing ring is an ideal arena for searching questions, since it seemed to lay bare the subconscious and bring out the inner animal in the two pussy cats in a way that Parky never managed. McIntyre, it turned out, was a champ – at the age of seven – while Bieber, who can't be much older than that, swatted away furiously at the big man. Perhaps the fight game will save him from the inevitable life of crime and drug addiction.
We're told that Bieber and Mike Tyson have a mutual appreciation society. Tyson tried to rehabilitate himself through TV appearances, though as a chatshow host he would be more likely bite your ear off than lend you his. The phrase "let's chew the fat" would be literally true.
Haye, however, appears to have a genuine talent for banter and away from all the hype he seems naturally likeable. His trainer, Adam Booth, on the other hand, swore and glowered at the camera. The narrator said: "Adam's aggressive approach is key to firing David up." He's known as the Dark Lord but in reality he is a university lecturer. When Haye has hung up his gloves, Booth can go back and teach all those student demonstrators how to fight properly.
Newsnight (BBC2, Wednesday) is not exactly known for its sports coverage but it is Wimbledon fortnight, after all, so Jeremy Paxman stooped to discuss a new book, Scorecasting, which claims to have discovered the reason why home advantage exists.
The answer, apparently, is the bias of referees. There was a "political scientist", whatever that is, on hand to belittle the claims of one of the authors, Jon Wertheim. But for some reason they didn't bother to ask anyone connected with sport for their opinions. Now that's bias for you. Maybe Paxman was scared they might ask Haye into the studio.
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