James Corrigan: If it's blood we want we may need to look elsewhere after the fiasco in Hamburg
The Way I See It: Haye is contemptible and Wladimir Klitschko had every right to be the graceless winner, labelling the oaf "a disgrace to the sport of boxing"
Monday 04 July 2011
Madness, they say, is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. Madness is £14.99 (inc VAT).
If there was an Indian takeaway on the High Street which cooked a rotten balti, would we return there every time they shoved a menu though our letterbox? Of course not. So why do we always end up pressing that cursed select button each and every time a "big fight" is hyped into our living rooms? Sky call these promotions "Box Office": they box and we get so bored we'd rather be in the office.
In truth, the hundreds of thousands who dished out for Saturday's arm-stretching competition (imagine the surprise when the bloke with the longer limbs prevailed) should march upon the Trading Standards Agency (if such a thing really exists). We should demand reimbursement, because what we were served up was unrecognisable from what was written on the side of the tin.
But then, the TSA would send us away, saying there was nobody else to blame but ourselves. We were seduced by the basest of build-ups, a scenario certain Roman emperors would have found distasteful. The question must now be asked whether there is a less likeable sportsman than David Haye? Refusing to shake his opponent's hand was just the start of his unpleasantness. Haye held up pictures of his rival being decapitated and spoke of his adversary lying unconscious in an ambulance being rushed to hospital. And we were cheering for him? I always thought Britain loved the underdog, not the dirty dog.
Haye is contemptible and Wladimir Klitschko had every right to be the graceless winner, labelling the oaf "a disgrace to the sport of boxing". How did the authorities allow Haye to get away with it? It's strange, the British Boxing Board of Control came over all angsty when Haye posted a sexist and not very funny joke on Twitter. I never had the BBBC down as feminists, but seeing as they declined to open their own rulebook while he was evoking his images of death, they aren't easily shocked.
Boxers have been known to die in the ring. Does Haye realise this and, if so, did he think he was being clever, witty, outrageous even? Or did he utter his obscenities safe in the knowledge he wasn't going to lay a glove on the Ukrainian. Haye had a broken little toe, see. The poor, poor dab. Not quite Bert Trautmann, is he?
But we shouldn't scoff, because we are the mugs who fell for it. Just as we did for the freak show that was Nikolai Valuev and for that act of extreme pacifism against, don't say his name three times, Audley Harrison. We can now only pray Haye retires and this wretched sporting chapter is at a close; yet what exactly did we want from it?
Some of us will doubtless console ourselves with the notion we adore boxing as a sport and are martyrs to our passion. I'm sure there are fanatics out there who do take great satisfaction from watching good defence mixed with classy jabbing. But the rest of us? Face it, we want the dramatic knockouts, we are drawn in by the possibility of violence, we are slaves to the salacious enmity. In short, we deserved David Haye.
If we were honest about our shameful craze, we would tune into the Ultimate Fighting Championship. A few hours after the Hamburg humdinger, Dominick Cruz and Urijah Faber stepped into the cage in Las Vegas to contest the UFC's bantamweight championship. And contest it they genuinely did; punching each other, kicking each other, hauling each other to the floor. There was more action in 20 seconds than there was in the 12 rounds of Haye-Klitschko. It wasn't pretty, but it wasn't phoney either, giving the spectators exactly what they craved.
The combat might have been alien, but the big sell was familiar. The pair didn't like each other, as this exchange at a press conference proved. Faber: "The bottom line is there's bad blood there, and we're going to have to get it all out." Cruz: "I feel like fighting fixes everything. Once we punch each other in the face, fighting will fix everything." Isn't it heart-warming to see how far human beings have advanced after only half a million years of development? And to think we once weren't civilised.
The fact is violence, or the potential, thereof, sells and will keep on selling. UFC – or Mixed Martial Arts – is in its comparative infancy as a sport and, like boxing, has its connoisseurs who admire it for it skills and its athleticism. Yet the majority in that packed MGN Grand Garden Arena and the millions at home banging hell out of their settees, thirsted for the blood.
Saturday provided mere confirmation that in years to come, UFC will become more popular than boxing. And so we will shell out the £14.99 to watch someone kicking and punching lumps out of someone else. We will finally get our money's worth. And all but the Gods will be happy.
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