A week after Joe Calzaghe and amateur Frankie Gavin hit the heights with world-class performances, it was David Haye's turn to punch his way to global domination in Paris last night.
The flamboyant 27-year-old from London became Britain's seventh reigning world champion – and one of the more authentic – acquiring both the World Boxing Council and World Boxing Association cruiserweight titles with a seventh-round stoppage of fight-hardened French holder Jean-Marc Mormeck.
It was a dramatic turnaround, Haye having been floored himself in the fourth. But with Mormeck beginning to tire he seized his moment in the seventh, unleashing an assault which began with a snapping uppercut and culminated in a stunning right to the back of the ear which sent Mormeck spinning face down to the floor.
Although he rose unsteadily at eight, the Italian referee declared he was unable to continue to leave Haye with two belts which ironically he discarded immediately. For he now intends to move up to the heavyweight division where his power punching might prove more profitable.
Haye, whose own world amateur silver medal was surpassed by Gavin, has struggled to make the 14st 4lb limit. He had to shed two stones for this bout and his decision rules out a big-money cruiserweight clash with another Briton, Enzo Macarinelli, the World Boxing Organisation champion. "If he wants to fight me it will have to be at heavyweight," saidy Haye. Macarinelli acknowledged: "It was a cracking fight. Haye came back well and proved he is one of the best. He showed plenty of heart."
Indeed he did. The fight had seemed lost as he was dumped in a corner after Mormeck had exposed his vulnerability to an overhand right in the fourth. The Guadeloupe-born Frenchman, now a Parisian resident, has a touch of the Tysons about him, shuffling forward menacingly and throwing right-hand bombs. Haye did well to recover from the one which put him down for an eight-count, battling back bravely. But he was failing on points when he summoned his own reserves of strength to flatten Mormeck three rounds later.
Haye's promoter, Frank Maloney, believes he has the power and ability to follow in Lennox Lewis's footsteps. Haye thought he would have to knock out the Don King-managed Mormeck, 35, to get a result and he inflicted only the second defeat Mormeck had suffered in a decade.
He said: "It was an explosive fight. My legs went when he caught me in the fourth but I'm a champion. I've got heart and I told myself, 'I've got to get up'. I think I showed class and patience. My strategy held together. I knew I had to pace myself."
Haye is one of Britain's most gifted boxers and has the extrovert personality to go with it. He will be a welcome addition to the ailing heavyweight division and deserves his status as an emerging superstar. "Calzaghe is number one, now I'm number one and let's hope that Ricky Hatton can do it too to show that British boxing is back on top."