James Corrigan: Haye goes 'gaga' after hitting pay-per-gawp heights

View From The Sofa: Haye v Valuev, Sky Box Office

Queen Victoria would have been amused. As would her gloating subjects. For the vast majority who paid out the obligatory £14.63, Saturday night's world heavyweight championship bout had about as much to do with the current popularity of boxing as those Bearded Lady stands had to do with the widespread thirst in Victorian England to study hormonal imbalance. Essentially this was pay-per-gawp.

And crikey did we gawp. Murdoch Towers is already crowing of the extraordinary take-up on Sky Box Office, claiming they had to hire more staff to deal with the interest. Congratulations must be passed on to David Haye, even though there were times during those interminable 12 rounds when he looked less like a fighter and more like a painted horse going around and around on the carousel. The huge pole in the middle was, of course, Nikolai Valuev – the most scorned "freak" in Britain since Joseph Merrick from Leicester first caught Simon Cowell's eye on Britain's Got Talent.

There is a strange moral code in our media when it comes to criticising an individual's looks. If you're a 9st British female swimming champion and someone dares to crack the old "reflection in a spoon" gag, the switchboard is inundated with thousands of complaints, the TV channel issues an immediate apology and the miscreant is thrown off the airwaves until he agrees to say sorry.

If you're a 7ft 2in Russian male boxing champion and someone dares to call you "the ugliest human being on Earth" who "makes the Elephant Man look like Pamela Anderson", the country cries out for more and everyone agrees you should have your block knocked off. Not a complaint in earshot, nothing even resembling an apology. Just more taunts about your "stench" and your "matted chest hair".

Sure, Haye commented in the ring straight afterwards, "I now have full respect for Valuev – he will win back the title some day". But what else was he going to say after prevailing on a split, and apparently contentious, decision? "Nope, I was right all along about Valuev – his fighting stinks as much as his armpits." What exactly would that have indicated about Haye's own performance?

Instead the Londoner did the usual trick of saying the display had established him as prime-time and to this end Valuev's validity as a boxer and not as a freak was suddenly the means. At ringside for Sky, Jim Watt went along with the hype, despite declaring at the final bell, the big fella to be his winner. "David beat Goliath all those thousands of years ago and here it's happened all over again," he screamed. Oh really? David left the Valley of Elah holding up the loser's head in his right hand. The only thing split about that particular decision was Goliath's neckbone.

But don't let the facts get in the way of a good analogy; an analogy which predictably figured in the billing of the bout and which may, just may have been the handiwork of the despicable Don King whose super-smug image repeatedly put us off our crispy duck. It was Haye's right to talk about " a dream come true" and even then he chose to extend the metaphor. "Since I was a little baby I've said I would be world heavyweight champion." Which must have been quite a shock to Mummy Haye and Daddy Haye. Most babies leave it at "gaga".

That was more than we heard from Valuev. He was dignified in the build-up, dignified in the aftermath, but still the insults rained. "A freak", "a monster", "a beast"... call him what you will. David Haye did. I just wonder how many will subscribe when the other fighter happens to be a human being.

Life and Style
A teenager boy wakes up.
Arts and Entertainment
Critics say Kipling showed loathing for India's primitive villagers in The Jungle Book
filmChristopher Walken, Bill Murray, Scarlett Johanssen Idris Elba, Andy Serkis, Benedict Cumberbatch, Cate Blanchett and Christian Bale
Life and Style
food + drink
Life and Style
Playing to win: for Tanith Carey, pictured with Lily, right, and Clio, even simple games had to have an educational purpose
lifeTanith Carey explains what made her take her foot off the gas
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
Arts and Entertainment
A still from Duncan Campbell's hour-long film 'It for Others'
Turner Prize 2014
Arts and Entertainment
Tony Hadley in a scene from ‘Soul Boys Of The Western World’
musicSpandau Ballet are back together - on stage and screen
Arts and Entertainment
From left to right: Ed Stoppard as Brian Epstein, Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black and Elliott Cowan as George Martin in 'Cilla'
tvCilla review: A poignant ending to mini-series
Life and Style
Bearing up: Sebastian Flyte with his teddy Aloysius in Brideshead Revisited
lifePhilippa Perry explains why a third of students take a bear to uni
Arts and Entertainment
Sir Alan Sugar appearing in a shot from Apprentice which was used in a Cassette Boy mashup
artsA judge will rule if pieces are funny enough to be classed as parodies
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

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

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Trust Accountant - Kent

NEGOTIABLE: Austen Lloyd: TRUST ACCOUNTANT - KENTIf you are a Chartered Accou...

Geography Teacher

£85 - £120 per day: Randstad Education Cheshire: randstad education are curre...

Teaching Assistant

Negotiable: Randstad Education Group: You must:- Speak English as a first lang...

SEN Teaching Assistant

£17000 - £18000 per annum: Randstad Education Group: If you are a committed Te...

Day In a Page

Isis is an hour from Baghdad, the Iraq army has little chance against it, and air strikes won't help

Isis an hour away from Baghdad -

and with no sign of Iraq army being able to make a successful counter-attack
Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

The exhibition nods to rich and potentially brilliant ideas, but steps back
Last chance to see: Half the world’s animals have disappeared over the last 40 years

Last chance to see...

The Earth’s animal wildlife population has halved in 40 years
So here's why teenagers are always grumpy - and it's not what you think

Truth behind teens' grumpiness

Early school hours mess with their biological clocks
Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?

Hacked photos: the third wave

Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?
Royal Ballet star dubbed 'Charlize Theron in pointe shoes' takes on Manon

Homegrown ballerina is on the rise

Royal Ballet star Melissa Hamilton is about to tackle the role of Manon
Education, eduction, education? Our growing fascination with what really goes on in school

Education, education, education

TV documentaries filmed in classrooms are now a genre in their own right
It’s reasonable to negotiate with the likes of Isis, so why don’t we do it and save lives?

It’s perfectly reasonable to negotiate with villains like Isis

So why don’t we do it and save some lives?
This man just ran a marathon in under 2 hours 3 minutes. Is a 2-hour race in sight?

Is a sub-2-hour race now within sight?

Dennis Kimetto breaks marathon record
We shall not be moved, say Stratford's single parents fighting eviction

Inside the E15 'occupation'

We shall not be moved, say Stratford single parents
Air strikes alone will fail to stop Isis

Air strikes alone will fail to stop Isis

Talks between all touched by the crisis in Syria and Iraq can achieve as much as the Tornadoes, says Patrick Cockburn
Nadhim Zahawi: From a refugee on welfare to the heart of No 10

Nadhim Zahawi: From a refugee on welfare to the heart of No 10

The Tory MP speaks for the first time about the devastating effect of his father's bankruptcy
Witches: A history of misogyny

Witches: A history of misogyny

The sexist abuse that haunts modern life is nothing new: women have been 'trolled' in art for 500 years
Shona Rhimes interview: Meet the most powerful woman in US television

Meet the most powerful woman in US television

Writer and producer of shows like Grey's Anatomy, Shonda Rhimes now has her own evening of primetime TV – but she’s taking it in her stride
'Before They Pass Away': Endangered communities photographed 'like Kate Moss'

Endangered communities photographed 'like Kate Moss'

Jimmy Nelson travelled the world to photograph 35 threatened tribes in an unashamedly glamorous style