Tonight, amid a partisan French crowd, London’s David Haye delivered one of the most thrilling performances by a British fighter in a foreign ring since the glorious nights of John H. Stracey and Lloyd Honeyghan. By depositing Cruiserweight champion Jean Marc-Mormeck on the canvas in the seventh round with a thunderous right uppercut and swinging right cross Haye announced himself to the boxing world and secured the Cruiserweight world title.
In these times of multiple sanctioning bodies, it would be easy to point to the other champions – notably Welshman Enzo Maccarinelli – who lay claim to a portion of the world championship but the truth is, David Haye is THE king at 200lbs. No other trinket should be allowed to distract from the fact the 27 year old joins Joe Calzaghe and Ricky Hatton as one of Britain’s genuine kings of boxing. His reign will prove fleeting, not because a challenger is likely to displace him soon, but as predicted, Haye is very, very unlikely to dip below 200lbs ever again.
Admittedly, the euphoria and adrenaline may have influenced his comments on the prospect of facing another challenge at the weight but squeezing Haye’s body inside the Cruiserweight limit is clearly an imposition he can no longer inflict on his muscular frame. Nor do Maccarinelli, Bell or Cunningham represent challenges the world will demand he overcome before accepting him as the consensus champion. Haye did enough in this one bout, both in the style of victory and in the quality of his vanquished opponent to lay to rest any other claim to the title. Not to suggest none of the other three would provide compelling foes, Maccarinelli in particular would relish the contest, but Haye’s future lays at heavyweight. A division he debuted at prior to this fight with a one round destruction of reliable Pole Tomasz Bonin.
Since his professional debut, Haye signalled his desire to win the Cruiserweight crown before setting his sights on the heavyweight ranks, a division in which his mix of knockout power, speed and languid (read risky) style will be a welcome addition. Tonight in the arena named in the honour of French great Marcel Cerdan the flashy Englishman completed phase one of his five year career.
The victory didn’t come easy. Climbing off the canvas in the fourth round, Haye showed maturity and an ability to pace himself honed in the aftermath of his sole defeat to veteran Carl Thompson three years ago. Tonight’s victory owed as much to that defeat as to the 19 victories Haye compiled around it. Starting brightly, Haye focused his attacks on the muscular mid-riff of the champion, causing the stocky Frenchman to wince more than once.
As obvious as Haye’s physical advantages of height and reach was his tendency to drop his left hand low in attack, a habit one suspects Haye will always carry. More than once the roar of the crowd exaggerated Mormeck’s success in dropping the right hand over this lazy guard, in truth Haye used reflex and sharp head movement to minimise the impact of the shot. It couldn’t disguise Haye’s nervousness under fire and Mormeck clearly warmed to the task as he realised the size of the gap in the challenger’s defence.
Ultimately, despite the knockdown in the fourth, which to me had the unsatisfactory look of a partial slip, it was Haye’s own right hand that prevailed.
The heavyweight division is on notice, though the chance Haye always gives you will not have been lost on the bigger punchers he will face in the sleepy weight class.