Boxing: Haye ready for potential payday

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The Independent Online

David Haye believes Saturday's all-British WBA heavyweight title showdown with Audley Harrison could earn him more money than a blockbuster unification fight with either of the Klitschko brothers.

Having so far failed to agree terms to meet WBC champion Vitali or IBF and WBO holder Wladimir, Haye claims Harrison was the "only viable alternative" despite openly mocking his rival's world title credentials.

Haye won the WBA title last year with a points victory against Russian champion Nikolay Valuev. He was desperate to use the belt as leverage for a clash with the Germany-based Ukrainians but negotiations with the notoriously canny brothers failed to result in the fight being signed.

With few credible challengers in the shallow heavyweight division, Harrison came into the frame largely thanks to his high profile as a 2000 Olympic champion but also a comeback knockout of Michael Sprott to win the European title in April.

While the voluntary defence has drawn criticism from within the sport, the fight does have crossover appeal and Haye, who wants to retire sooner rather than later, believes he could boost his pension fund more by fighting Harrison than if he accepted the Klitschkos' terms.

Haye told Press Association Sport: "We'll find out with the pay-per-view numbers, we're not sure what they will be.

"But I assume they will be very high and that we'll do very good numbers. Because people will pay to watch Audley Harrison get destroyed.

"People dislike him that much that they will pay their hard-earned money to watch me dismantle and finally retire Audley Harrison.

"With what the Klitschkos were offering, I wouldn't be surprised if this earned me more. Potentially it could make me more than a fight with one of them.

"Ideally I'd rather be fighting one of the Klitschko brothers but they would rather fight Shannon Briggs and Samuel Peter. They like their little safety fights. So I don't think Audley Harrison is any worse than those two. I'm looking forward to it."

The two men have relentlessly publicised the fight for Sky Box Office with their relationship as friends-turned-foes proving a major selling point.

The origin of their hostility is generally thought to revolve around a sparring session in Miami four years ago in which Harrison believes Haye "took liberties".

"I was always there for David, like I have been for many people in the game," said 39-year-old 'A-Force'. "I've been there for them as a friend, as someone they could come to for advice and once I realised it was one-way traffic and they were just about themselves, it was going to be an issue.

"The sparring session I had with David when he tried to punch me from pillar to post showed me what he was about. Then, not putting me on one of his shows when I asked him to put me on, I realised he was just about himself."

Haye's take on it is unsurprisingly contradictory.

"I don't know, it comes from him being an idiot, basically," he said. "Him being delusional and thinking he's got some sort of divine right.

"I don't understand how he calculates that he can beat me, what he has done in his career to justify him winning this fight.

"I don't think he's done anything. He's bigger than me, he's got longer arms and he's heavier than me but that's it. I'm just a better athlete all-round than he is."