Boxing: Haye deserves better than to be laughed at

Lewis, Bruno, Bugner and Henry Cooper were allowed their mishaps but not it appears Haye

If David Haye never fights again he will sadly be remembered for his broken toe which he revealed to the world after his painful defeat against Wladimir Klitschko last July.

Haye, who will be 31 tomorrow, has not renewed his licence to fight with the British Boxing Board of Control and at the same time has not stopped negotiating for one final fight against Vitali Klitschko, the slower but more lethal brother of Wladimir.

According to Haye and Adam Booth, his business and promotional partner, the pair first discussed retiring before the boxer reached the age of 31 a decade ago. "I've seen too many fighters go on too long and that is never going to happen with David," vowed Booth.

If Haye does walk away, he will leave behind a considerable set of achievements inside the ring, but he is unlikely to escape criticism for the Wladimir fight and the entertaining and lucrative fiasco that was the Audley Harrison contest last November. He is, in my opinion, innocent in the Harrison affair and misunderstood in the Wladimir beating.

The best British heavyweights in history all have blots on their records. Lennox Lewis, our best, was knocked out by two tough but not exceptional fighters, Henry Cooper lost to some average men, Frank Bruno was vulnerable in all difficult fights and Joe Bugner had some dreadful nights in the ring. Haye's perceived crimes are for some reasons judged far more harshly.

Haye turned professional in 2002 and went unbeaten until 2004 when he was stopped on his feet by Carl Thompson; it was a defeat that saved a career. Haye and Booth got serious about the business and mixed a combination of dietary advances and state-of-the-art gym equipment with a bit of old-fashioned quackery to rebuild the boxer's career.

A different fighter emerged from the setback and he won and defended the European title at cruiserweight in a series of entertaining slugfests.

In 2007, Haye travelled to Paris, to the outer zone of the city to be precise, and survived a brutal knockdown to finally knock out local idol Jean Marc Mormeck to win the WBC and WBA cruiserweight titles. A sell-out at the O2 against Enzo Maccarinelli ended in round two and Haye acquired the WBO version, but his days fighting the scales were over and he shifted to heavyweight in late 2008.

In 2009, Haye defeated the sad-eyed giant Nikolai Valuev to win the WBA heavyweight title. He conceded 11 inches in height and about six stone on the night. A quick and furious defence against former champion John Ruiz, a man the Klitschko brothers ignored, was an ideal first defence. Haye took him out in nine savage rounds. It was the next defence that started to turn some people against Haye and seemed to give his many critics great delight.

Haye agreed to give Harrison, a fallen Olympic idol, his chance at redemption. "It will be a massacre," warned Haye, two months before the fight. "It's only happening because people want to see it." He was right on both counts. Harrison folded the moment Haye connected but it was an enormous commercial success.

The fight with Wladimir, which was also for the German-based Ukrainian's IBO, IBF and WBO titles, took three years to turn from talk to hype to action. Haye never really got into the fight and took some tremendous punishment without once looking like going down. Wladimir, remember, had stopped or knocked out 49 men before meeting Haye.

The endgame was played out in farcical circumstances after the final bell when Haye put on display exhibit A: his broken little toe. Everybody had a good laugh, which is a pity because Haye deserved better. Lewis, Bruno, Bugner and Cooper were allowed their mishaps, but not it appears Haye.

Best of British: Bunce's top 5 heavyweights

1. Lennox Lewis (1989-2003)

Olympic, British and world champion. A gentleman outside the ropes, a savage inside. Best fight: Donovan "Razor" Ruddock (1992). Total fights: 44: 41-2-1.

2. Joe Bugner (1967-1999)

British champ at time of truly fantastic heavyweight boxers. He fought both Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier when they were at their peaks. Best fight: Joe Frazier (1973): Total: 83: 69-13-1.

3. David Haye (2002-2011)

World champ in a division devoid of true glamour. Best fight: Enzo Maccarinelli (2008). Total: 27: 25-2-0

4. Henry Cooper (1954-1971)

He reigned through three decades and is remembered for his Muhammad Ali fights. Best fight: Ali (1963). Total: 55: 40-14-1.

5. Frank Bruno (1982-1996)

Won world title at fourth attempt, won hearts and minds of British fans a lot earlier. Best fight: Oliver McCall (1995). Total: 45: 40-5.

Arts and Entertainment
Brendan O'Carroll as Agnes Brown in the 2014 Mrs Brown's Boys Christmas special
tvCould Mrs Brown's Boys have taken lead for second year?
News
Members and supporters of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) community walk with a rainbow flag during a rally in July
news
Sport
footballLive! Chelsea vs West Ham kicked off 10 Boxing Day matches, with Arsenal vs QPR closing the action
News
peopleIt seems you can't silence Katie Hopkins, even on Christmas Day...
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Jack O'Connell stars as Louis Zamperini in Angelina Jolie's Unbroken
film review... even if Jack O'Connell is excellent
Arts and Entertainment
Madonna is not in Twitter's good books after describing her album leak as 'artistic rape and terrorism'
music14 more 'Rebel Heart' tracks leaked including Pharrell Williams collaboration
News
news
Arts and Entertainment
Wolf (Nathan McMullen), Ian (Dan Starky), The Doctor (Peter Capaldi), Clara (Jenna Coleman), Santa Claus (Nick Frost) in the Doctor Who Christmas Special (BBC/Photographer: David Venni)
tvOur review of the Doctor Who Christmas Special
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Senior Marketing Executive- City of London, Old Street

£40000 - £43000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Senior Marketing Executiv...

Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager

£40000 - £43000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: An international organisa...

Ashdown Group: Internal Recruiter -Rugby, Warwickshire

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Internal Recruiter -Rugby, Warwicksh...

Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager/Marketing Controller (Financial Services)

£70000 - £75000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager/Marketi...

Day In a Page

A Christmas without hope: Fears grow in Gaza that the conflict with Israel will soon reignite

Christmas without hope

Gaza fears grow that conflict with Israel will soon reignite
After 150 years, you can finally visit the grisliest museum in the country

The 'Black Museum'

After 150 years, you can finally visit Britain's grisliest museum
No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

Doctor Who Christmas Special TV review
Chilly Christmas: Swimmers take festive dip for charity

Chilly Christmas

Swimmers dive into freezing British waters for charity
Veterans' hostel 'overwhelmed by kindness' for festive dinner

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all