One of the issues a fighter who talks a massive amount of smack must confront is the pressure of having to live up to all the boasts.
David Haye knows this all too well as he wound up looking like a fool after running a smear campaign against Wladimir Klitschko and his older brother, Vitali, for months before performing miserably in his unification bout against Wladimir Klitschko on July 2, 2011, in Hamburg, Germany.
Haye was not only non-competitive, but he was timid and seemed to shy away from combat.
It's one thing to lose, but it's another to taunt an opponent so mercilessly and then show zero tenacity when the going gets tough.
After the bout, Haye offered an injured toe as an excuse for his poor performance. That unleashed a torrent of abuse from fans and media, some of which continues now, more than a year later.
Haye would have been better off providing no excuses and taking his lumps, but it makes no sense to constantly berate him more than a year later.
He's still one of the few heavyweights – if not the only one – other than the Klitschko brothers who is skilled and talented enough to bring excitement to the division.
Haye will fight Dereck Chisora on Saturday in London in a bout that will be televised in the U.S. on Epix and online at EpixHD.com. For Haye, it is the first bout of a comeback that will have plenty of implications, most of them good, for the struggling heavyweight division.
To say that there is a dearth of talent in the heavyweight division is an understatement of epic proportions. That's why it's so important for Haye to come back at his best. He's big, fast, powerful and talented, though he showed none of those attributes against Klitschko.
Why he fought the way he did may never be answered, but to continue to mock him more than a year later is ignorant and overlooks his history.
Haye was the unified cruiserweight champion when he moved to heavyweight in late 2008. He quickly showed that he had the power and the boxing skill to be a force.
He stopped Monte Barrett, John Ruiz and Audley Harrison and won a decision over Nikolai Valuev before landing the fight with Klitschko last year.
There were plenty of knowledgeable boxing people who felt Haye had a better-than-even shot to defeat Klitschko. He performed miserably in that bout, but that doesn't mean he'd perform miserably if given another opportunity. LeBron James wasn't exactly the best player in the 2011 NBA Finals, but a year later, things were vastly different for him.
Haye skipped a conference call with American reporters Monday, but gave hints about his intentions when he spoke with reporters in London last week.
He noted that Chisora had given Vitali Klitschko a good fight in February. Haye is, in essence, hopeful reporters will compare his performance against Chisora's to Chisora's against Vitali Klitschko's and begin to clamor for a bout between the two.
Given the torrent of abuse he hurled toward the Klitschkos, it's no guarantee he'll ever get another bout against either of them or that the public would buy it if he did. Bernd Boente, the Klitschkos' manager, is obstinate and difficult to work with under the best of circumstances. Given his distaste for Haye, Boente may prevent him from ever getting another shot.
Haye, though, isn't so concerned about that now. His goal is to perform in a manner against Chisora that will alleviate concerns about his weak effort against Wladimir Klitschko and begin a drumbeat for a shot against Vitali.
"We know that [Vitali] Klitschko struggled over 12 rounds against Dereck and won the fight, but it was a competitive fight," Haye told the London Telegraph. "The manner in which I'm looking at destroying Dereck will send shock waves around the world. My aim is for this fight not to be competitive; it's to go out there and dominate Dereck and beat him in all areas.
"Then people can make a straight-up comparison between myself and Vitali, and, if the boxing world feels they want to see who is the best between myself and Vitali, then it's a good fight for me to take."
Haye is a good fighter and a great talker. He'd be better off working to make himself a great fighter who was a good talker, but that's not the way the sport is in the 21st century.
Haye, though, is far better than what he showed against Wladimir Klitschko. It would be a big shot in the arm for the sport if he could come back and fight up to his potential on a regular basis.
If he does, there might be a reason for people other than just boxing diehards to pay attention to the heavyweights.
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