A rare period of downtime this week urged me to scour through my collection of old fights. Intent on heading back to somewhere between the 1970’s and 1990’s, I suddenly stopped at 2009 when coming across the WBA heavyweight title clash between then champion Nikolai Valuev and British divisional newcomer David Haye.
Recollecting how I watched on in amazement at the time, Valuev v Haye won me over and I sat back to enjoy a spell-binding twelve rounds in Nuremberg.
Still to this day – seven years on, I’m still wondering what possessed Haye to take the fight in the first place when giving away a mammoth 99 pounds in weight in what was rightly billed as ‘David versus Goliath’ on the night of November 7th.
For the duration, its was expected to be a case of, ‘any moment now Valuev is going to connect with a huge shot and its lights out’ – although surprisingly, Haye caught the 7ft Russian early enough to make Valuev think again the whole way through the fight. That shuddering shot to the temple in the second round, on the back of cagey opening session, set the tone for the entire fight and had Valuev worrying that he could be knocked out by a boxer who was predominantly a cruiserweight.
Valuev had never been close to being put on the canvas in his previous 50 wins, with the only other defeat of his career coming in a points reverse to Ruslan Chagaev in 2007 and that by now was well out of his system.
Everybody knew Haye hit hard, but did anyone think he was capable of slaying the giant earlier than the twelve rounds? – Well, in all honesty, the vast majority thought Haye would do well to come out of that ring in one piece.
That solid blow landed by changed everything and ultimately allowed the Londoner to dictate what happened inside the ropes to get in and out like an annoying fly avoiding being swatted for the next ten rounds.
Not knowing how the scorecards read, and especially given the fact that Haye was away from home in Germany, the ex 200-pound king went for glory in the final three minutes and almost pulled off a stoppage victory that would have shocked in the ilk of Buster Douglas v Mike Tyson in 1990 and what Muhammad Ali v George Foreman in 1974.
It wasn’t to be on this occasion though as Valuev regained his faculties from a massive shot as his legs tried their best to give way, and Haye just didn’t have enough time left on the clock to finish the job.
Upon the verdict, the correct winner had his hands raised as ‘The Hayemaker’ crowned what will always be remembered as his greatest night in boxing.
Now that he’s back in action and hoping to reclaim past glories, Haye would be hard pushed to better that night’s work, which cemented his place in British history and made him a household UK name overnight.