James Lawton: A crime against boxing in which everyone involved was complicit

Haye's only recourse is to take one of the two fights he has been so strenuously avoiding since the start of his heavyweight pantomime

Yes, what happened in a boxing ring in Manchester on Saturday night had to be described as a crime – and no less shocking for being so easily anticipated.

The indictment is of fraud perpetrated not only by the promoters of David Haye's sickening dispatch of the ultimately pathetic Audley Harrison but all those who, down from the great Lennox Lewis, simultaneously affected a knowledge of boxing and still gave the wretched affair even a scintilla of credence.

You were either complicit in the scam, or hopelessly gullible, if you set foot in the MEN Arena or, say, paid £40 to watch on a big screen in somewhere like the Sports Café in the West End of London.

The first boos came before the referee was obliged to remind the combatants that they were involved in something called a fight and that while larceny was one thing, bare-faced, egregious, contemptuous, shameless thievery was something else again.

Don't let anyone tell you this was a fight that went wrong when the first bell sounded. It was one that should have been killed at birth and with no more punishing a weapon than pure, undiluted scorn.

Haye, whose capacity to insult the intelligence of the public is unlimited – although it has to be said he has scarcely lacked encouragement – brought a new refinement when he announced that he and his friends had wagered heavily on a third-round stoppage. For the average mug punter, this must have felt a bit like having the shirt just removed from his back shredded and sprinkled over his head.

No heavyweight champion had ever entered the ring with phonier credentials than Haye. He was praised for a "defensive masterclass" when winning his WBA crown against an embarrassingly shambolic, and non-aggressive, Russian giant named Nikolai Valuev. His one defence before the weekend fiasco was against John Ruiz, who was less than impressive in his youth but by the time he faced Haye in his late thirties was so eroded he was, as the Americans describe no-hope opponents, no better than a "tomato can".

The former Olympic champion Harrison's situation is almost beyond boxing analysis. The BBC gave him a million pounds of public money to launch a career that was made somewhat questionable by his confession that working with the pros in the gym tended to give him a headache. His four defeats as a professional include one by a Belfast taxi driver. His lack of resolution against Haye would have been pitiful but for the fact that he was said to be earning the best part of another million for another dreadful impersonation of a serious fighter.

This, of course, didn't check another wave of self-congratulation from the Hayemaker. No one is saying that he lacks ability, only that it is utterly unproven at the heavyweight level, which is unfortunate in a successor to the likes of Ali, Tyson and Lewis, who, whatever his contractual commitments, must, we can only hope, have felt a strong urge to walk away from Saturday's scandal.

Haye's only recourse, if he is at all interested, is to take one of the two fights he has been so strenuously avoiding since the start of his heavyweight pantomime.

He must meet the men who have a share of the title, the Klitschko brothers, Wladimir and Vitali. It is the least he can do after inviting such ridicule on a prize that used to be the most celebrated in all of sport. Either that, or take his lightly earned money and keep on running from anything that even vaguely resembles a genuine heavyweight fight.

Arts and Entertainment
Gregg Wallace in Summer's Supermarket Secrets
tv All of this year's 15 contestants have now been named
Sport
The giant banner displayed by Legia Warsaw supporters last night
football Polish side was ejected from Champions League
Arts and Entertainment
Could we see Iain back in the Bake Off tent next week?
tv Contestant teased Newsnight viewers on potential reappearance
News
i100(and it's got nothing to do with the Great British Bake Off)
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
news It's not just the world that's a mess at the moment...
News
Angelina Jolie with her father Jon Voight
peopleAsked whether he was upset not to be invited, he responded by saying he was busy with the Emmy Awards
News
Bill Kerr has died aged 92
peopleBill Kerr appeared in Hancock’s Half Hour and later worked alongside Spike Milligan and Peter Sellers
Life and Style
A picture taken on January 12, 2011 shows sex shops at the Paris district of Pigalle.
news
Sport
footballPremiership preview: All the talking points ahead of this weekend's matches
News
Keira Knightley poses topless for a special September The Photographer's issue of Interview Magazine, out now
people
Voices
The Ukip leader has consistently refused to be drawn on where he would mount an attempt to secure a parliamentary seat
voicesNigel Farage: Those who predicted we would lose momentum heading into the 2015 election are going to have to think again
Arts and Entertainment
Cara Delevingne made her acting debut in Anna Karenina in 2012
film Cara Delevingne 'in talks' to star in Zoolander sequel
News
i100
Sport
Mario Balotelli pictured in his Liverpool shirt for the first time
football
Life and Style
tech
Caption competition
Caption competition
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Java Developer - 1 year contract

£350 - £400 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client based in Cent...

Junior Analyst - Graduate - 6 Month fixed term contract

£17000 - £20000 Per Annum Bonus, Life Insurance + Other Benefits: Clearwater P...

SAS Business Analyst - Credit Risk - Retail Banking

£450 - £500 per day: Orgtel: SAS Business Analyst, London, Banking, Credit Ris...

Project Manager - Pensions

£32000 - £38000 Per Annum Bonus, Life Insurance + Other Benefits: Clearwater P...

Day In a Page

Ukraine crisis: The phoney war is over as Russian troops and armour pour across the border

The phoney war is over

Russian troops and armour pour into Ukraine
Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

The world’s entire food system is under attack - and Britain is most at risk, according to a new study
Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Seoul's plastic surgery industry is booming thanks to the popularity of the K-Pop look
From Mozart to Orson Welles: Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

After the death of Sandy Wilson, 90, who wrote his only hit musical in his twenties, John Walsh wonders what it's like to peak too soon and go on to live a life more ordinary
Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

Fears are mounting that Vladimir Putin has instructed hackers to target banks like JP Morgan
Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years

Salomé: A head for seduction

Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years. Now audiences can meet the Biblical femme fatale in two new stage and screen projects
From Bram Stoker to Stanley Kubrick, the British Library's latest exhibition celebrates all things Gothic

British Library celebrates all things Gothic

Forthcoming exhibition Terror and Wonder: The Gothic Imagination will be the UK's largest ever celebration of Gothic literature
The Hard Rock Café's owners are embroiled in a bitter legal dispute - but is the restaurant chain worth fighting for?

Is the Hard Rock Café worth fighting for?

The restaurant chain's owners are currently embroiled in a bitter legal dispute
Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival

In search of Caribbean soul food

Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival
11 best face powders

11 best face powders

Sweep away shiny skin with our pick of the best pressed and loose powder bases
England vs Norway: Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Lack of Englishmen at leading Premier League clubs leaves manager hamstrung
Angel Di Maria and Cristiano Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

Di Maria and Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

They both inherited the iconic shirt at Old Trafford, but the £59.7m new boy is joining a club in a very different state
Israel-Gaza conflict: No victory for Israel despite weeks of death and devastation

Robert Fisk: No victory for Israel despite weeks of devastation

Palestinians have won: they are still in Gaza, and Hamas is still there
Mary Beard writes character reference for Twitter troll who called her a 'slut'

Unlikely friends: Mary Beard and the troll who called her a ‘filthy old slut’

The Cambridge University classicist even wrote the student a character reference
America’s new apartheid: Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone

America’s new apartheid

Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone