Why David Haye has a tough job rebuilding fans trust
There is no doubting there was huge interest in what would be announced in London at 10am on Tuesday morning as two-weight world champion David Haye readied himself to reveal details of his comeback.
An absence of forty months, three-fight pull-outs, and a career-threatening injury later, there’s still a lot of work to be done to repair Haye’s reputation with the fans.
Especially in his home country of the UK.
Despite becoming a hero when defeating Russian giant Nikolai Valuev in 2009 and following it up with an impressive stopping win over ‘The Quiet Man’ John Ruiz, it all started to go wrong for Haye in the months after that.
Confirming a fight with friend Audley Harrison and setting it up on Pay-Per-View heralded the beginning of a mini-backlash against David Haye.
The situation gradually worsened once the fight played out as a drab three-round blowout.
Many fans argued that Haye carried Harrison for the three rounds. Then dispatching him in the session he wanted.
It all left a sour taste in the mouth of those inside the M.E.N Arena. Many at-home had also forked out a decent sum for the Box Office event.
In a bid to get the fans back on side, the 35-year-old went after the top dog, Wladimir Klitschko. He managed to secure a unification clash for Hamburg on July 2, 2011.
This was Haye’s big chance to repair his reputation with the skeptical supporters. Those big question marks stemming from the Harrison win.
Despite a fanfare and Haye’s best efforts, Klitschko dominated the Londoner to see a wide-points victory. Taking away his hard-earned WBA title in the process.
The fact that he went the distance with Klitschko, another heavyweight much bigger than him, may have gone some way to getting a portion of the distant fans back on Haye’s side.
That was until an infamous toe injury was named as the reason for his loss in the ring after the fight.
Making an excuse so publicly and even displaying his toe on social media only served to alienate the paying public even more.
The backlash was fierce.
Haye needed something big once again to keep the focus on his career.
A public brawl with Dereck Chisora in Munich at a Vitali Klitschko press conference did just that.
Haye would sell out West Ham’s Upton Park stadium. Also, aking another tidy profit into the bargain.
THE DAVID HAYE PULL-OUT
In reality, Haye was papering over the cracks, though. When innocently pulling out of a fight with Manuel Charr, it would be the beginning of the end of any good reputation the Bermondsey man had. Certainly with a section of the British fans.
To compound things even further, two fights with Tyson Fury fell apart. Haye has since struggled to capture the fans’ imagination with constant promises of a return to action.
The bare truth is that Haye is now more known for false promises. For pulling out of fights, ore than he is for his stunning knockouts.
He needs a solid public relations offensive if that is to change dramatically in the future.
Tuesday’s announcement that Australian Mark De Mori would be his next foe has realistically failed to light any spark with the disbelievers.
David Haye will have to do something pretty special on January 16 to get most of Britain on board his comeback train.
The views expressed in this article are that of the Editor. Phil Jay.
Phil Jay is an Auxiliary member of the Boxing Writers Association of America. Follow on Twitter @PhilDJay