They say, whoever they are, that in matters of the heart the chase is all part of the thrill. I’m not sure whether the notion could be extended to finding 250-pound men with a glint in their eye, I suppose it depends on your proclivities. However, David Haye’s quest to find a “top-10” heavyweight contender to knockout, as he assumes he will, in November has proven about as easy as platting fog. It began with rumours of Hasim Rahman or Andrew Golota but is now much further down the heavyweight barrel.
It is proposed Haye will make his big announcement today and uncharacteristically their appears no clear indication who’s signature he has secured.
1 – Hasim Rahman
Possesses the requisite renown, size and lack of motivation but claims to “never have received an offer”. I’d say the chance of Rahman being across the ring, though he represents the perfect choice in so many ways, is slim. Unless Haye is playing hard-ball, knowing Rahman has precious few other options following his timid submission to a cuts defeat, changed to a no-contest, to a ghost of James Toney. One would have presumed, the talkative Rahman would have made more noise had he been rejected or accepted any subsequent offer.
Chances of facing Haye: Slim
2 – James Toney
Strikes me as highly unlikely, Toney is a pedigree fighter with more technical ability than the rest of this list put together. But he doesn’t have the right build or style for this contest. In short, he’s squat and awkward. Haye needs a big-tree to fell. At 40, and as a former Middleweight he has some difficult to sell points for a casual market. Even in defeat he could make Haye look ordinary. Something Haye needs to avoid.
Chance of facing Haye: Slim to none
3 – Oleg Maskaev
The big former champion is active, having just beaten Robert Hawkins, and punches like Zeus. Once knocking Hasim Rahman out of the ring and across an official’s table. But he’s arguably got easier options amongst the raft of German-Soviet power-houses in Germany. Valuev, Klitschko, Povetkin would all be able to sell voluntary defences against Maskaev to their markets. Maskaev is reported to have rejected Haye’s advances.
Chances of facing Haye: Still possible
4 – Andrew Golota
Slated for a tune-up soon and then to tackle Shannon Briggs later this year the veteran nearly man has the renown, size and connections to be a useful scalp for Haye despite his losses at elite level. He has, however, been knocked out early more than once; Lewis, Brewster so a Haye knock out would carry less kudos.
Chances of facing Haye: Slim
5 – Tony Thompson
The tall American failed in his attempt to unseat Wladimir Klitschko and is an unknown quantity beyond that, he’s got a decent chin and is awkward behind a long jab but as Klitschko’s most recent victim, by stoppage, he looks a busted flush. He has called Haye out, online, would likely be a budget option and willing to travel.
Chances of facing Haye: Unlikely
6 – Kevin Johnson
The unbeaten American came into the picture last week, and has just beaten Bruce Sheldon in 5 rounds. Is solid behind a swift jab but carries a poor knockout ratio and has precious little public recognition either side of the Atlantic. Would be an ambitious opponent and give Haye an difficult fight if he didn’t freeze under the spotlight but would be an anti-climax following the names of Rahman and Golota despite his brighter future.
Chances of facing Haye: Plausible
7 – JD Chapman
Untried, untested but unbeaten and ranked. Would be a left-field choice as he carries virtually no kudos beyond his ranking and carefully constructed resume. He has, according to the pop-up ridden BoxingScene.com turned down the fee on offer.
Chances of facing Haye: Hopefully zero
8 – Eddie Chambers
His only loss is to fellow contender Povetkin in a final eliminator, boxes well but lacks the zing in his punches to carry him over the finish line. Like Johnson, would be a hungry opponent and that may serve Haye better in the long run than an unsatisfactorily quick knockout of a faded household name but there have been rumours Team Haye has been compiling videos of the American.
Chances of facing Haye: Looking strong
9 – Monte Barrett
Workmanlike performer who revitalised his ebbing significance on the world-scene by smashing giant Tye Fields down to size this summer. Barrett has form and repute and would always be game in any contest. He would offer Haye a stiff work-out, moderate kudos and a ranked foe. His name hasn’t been mentioned for some time though.
Chances of facing Haye: Plausible
10 – Cedric Boswell
I’m not sure whether the sanctioning bodies have had time to reward Cedric’s dramatic win over Roman Greenberg yet but he would, again, be an unexpected pick. He can bang, is in good shape, despite his 39 years and would relish the opportunity, one would assume. His only previous venture up to this level ended in spirited defeat to Jameel McCline.
Chances of facing Haye: Slim to plausible
11 – Danny Williams, Michael Sprott or Audley Harrison
Highly, highly unlikely any of these will feature, mostly because they don’t have the requisite ranking but also because the British public have seen them exposed at one time or another. Haye has repeatedly tried to distance himself from these three and Matt Skelton, who is scheduled to contest the European title in December.
One thing that has become clear is the realisation for Haye, like Audley Harrison before him, finding suitable opponents is never easy. Hopefully, unlike Audley Harrison, he is able to relinquish sufficient authority to his colleagues to allow him to concentrate on the mental and physical preparation for the fight. Harrison, on reflection, was willing to concede trying to self-manage, self-promote and actually climb between the ropes was asking too much.
Particularly with the behind-the-scenes politics which provide a host of obstacles unseen by the critical public. Haye has more goodwill because of his more engaging personality and accomplishments at Cruiserweight, but by setting the bar high he’s made the field of potential opponents all the shallower, even in these multi-title times.
Hopefully, despite the build up Haye will still be able to stun the public and media when he makes the announcement. Scheduled for today and whoever is chosen, it may pay us all to recollect the ease with which Jean-Marc Mormeck landed right hands a year ago.