In a new series, published every weekday on Boxing Social, the incomparable Terry Dooley delivers his unique look at the boxing news.
Only three things in life are certain: taxes, death and a disappointing David Haye (28-4, 26 KOs) comeback— and they are all as equally unwelcome. The former cruiserweight world champion and WBA heavyweight titlist will meet his friend Joe Fournier (9-0, 9 KOs, albeit versus woeful opposition) at the Staples Center next month on a gimmicky card that also boasts Oscar De La Hoya’s comeback farce against Vitor Belfort.
Haye was bounced out of boxing in 2018 after back-to-back losses to Tony Bellew. Prior to this, he met Arnold Gjergjaj and Mark De Mori in easy comeback fights. The injury-ravaged Londoner somehow managed to Gaffer Tape himself together for the first two fights, but by the time he met Bellew the first time around his body was a done deal and the Scouser clinically battered and then finished him in the return.
It has been almost 15 years since Haye beat Jean Marc Mormeck and Enzo Maccarinelli to top the cruiserweight division and over a decade since he beat Nikolai Valuev for the WBA belt. Since that night, his career has slowly petered out, with a decision loss to Wladimir Klitschko the best result on his recent record. Haye started out with high hopes at heavyweight yet his only recent decent performance and win came against Dereck Chisora almost a decade ago.
Despite the fact that he has recently hit 40, Haye is hauling himself back for what will probably be built into a grudge match of sorts against his good friend Fournier. For all his faults, Haye could inject bad blood and intense beef into a meeting between Mahatma Gandhi and Jesus Christ so it is likely that by the night of the fight he will have somehow convinced us that a) this is real and b) he can still compete at heavyweight — it isn’t and he can’t, but feel free to tune in.
‘This isn’t a comeback, this is about teaching there are levels in boxing,’ wrote Haye when tweeting a link to the press release announcing this exhibition. ‘Joe “The Billionaire” Fournier needs to learn that you can’t buy everything. Champions are born not bought.’
Fournier has won nine times, so he is undefeated against modest, hand-picked opposition. He made his money in the nightclub and entertainment business and is no stranger to hyping up an event. Haye, though, revealed that there is a serious depth of feeling and animosity behind this meeting after they argued about who would win a fight while dining out with some mutual friends.
“This whole fight between us, came into existence when at dinner with a group in Mykonos we were asked who would win in a fight between us,” he said. “I laughed, but out of respect for Joe’s ego suggested it would be close, maybe a draw — whilst winking to Joe. Joe’s straight-faced response was very different, he was deadly serious stating he would win in a fight today…This is not a comeback; this is about teaching Joe Fournier there are levels to the boxing game. One must stay in their lane or risk getting flattened.”
Fournier added: “I’m here to make a statement. Like the business world, timing is everything in the fight game. I have immense respect for David’s past achievements, but his time has passed. I’m younger, fitter and faster. He may have been world heavyweight champion, but that moment has gone, I am still learning the sport, coming into my prime. His demise will meet my rise and come September 11th the boxing world is in for a huge shock.”
Former IBF cruiserweight world titlist Glenn McCrory (30-8-1, 12 KOs) has been out and about in his native Wearside to help advise and encourage the next generation of fighters. McCrory made a name for himself when he won the IBF title and via his sparring sessions with Mike Tyson before taking up the mic at Sky Sports following his retirement in 1993.
Now a self-employed pundit and public speaker, McCrory dropped into the Sunderland Community Hub Boxing Club to talk about his road to the IBF title. The club is based at the local fire station, with the staff running sessions in the hope of reducing the amount of antisocial behaviour in the local area by giving the local youth something else to focus on.
The club now trains up to 70 youngsters each week as well as running a senior fitness session for local pensioners. “I was over the moon to be invited here to what is such an important community facility,” said McCrory when speaking to Neil Fatkin of the Sunderland Echo.
“Boxing changes lives. I’m still just the same kid from County Durham but it certainly changed mine. I went on to be world champion and I want the kids here today to realise if I can do it then so can they. Whatever your dream, you can do it.”
“A lot of these kids could potentially go the wrong way and boxing gives them something to aim for as well as promoting discipline, respect, fitness and friendship,” he added. “If parents can push their children towards community projects like this then it will change them for the rest of their lives.”
The club’s head coach, Preston Brown, juggles his commitment as a firefighter alongside the demands of running a boxing gym. He believes that there is more to boxing than winning fights and titles, he thinks that the sport can help improve the quality of life in the area as well as instilling a sense of community and self-respect.
“We’ve seen a real reduction in antisocial behaviour since the venture started,” he revealed. “When we used to go out on call we would often get abuse and stones thrown at us. The club has helped build a strong relationship with the local community and these incidents have really reduced. We also use the club as a vehicle to engage youngsters and educate them on the dangers of fire.”
McCrory also revealed that he is relaunching the play Carrying David, the story of his rise in boxing and the impact that his adopted brother David’s muscular wasting disease had on him. The 56-year-old recalled that he would often carry David around on his back and hopes that the play can reach a wider audience.
“David passed away in 1996 at the age of 29 but he was the real fighter in the family and a massive inspiration to me,” recalled McCrory. “There was one point when I lost five out of six fights, but seeing David’s courage kept me going and gave me the strength to battle back to become world champion.”
The production will be touring the North East next month with the opening show at the Blyth Phoenix Theatre on September 8 followed by performances at Gala Theatre in Durham on September 16, Tyne Theatre and Opera House on September 17 and Alnwick Playhouse on September 18.
Being a fighter is a tough job, but opening a restaurant is just as precarious, especially in this day and age, yet West Brompton’s Sohail Ahmad (14-1-1, 5 KOs) has decided to bite the buffet by opening his own restaurant in Fitzoria, London tomorrow (Friday September 13).
A former refugee who fled from Afghanistan on his own, “Showstar” ended up living in care until he was 18. Despite a respectable record on paper, his boxing career has failed to take off; however, he hopes that his new venture will help him defy the odds that were stacked against him earlier in life. Ahmad’s new venture is called Eggoland and he explained his decision to open a restaurant when speaking to Jack Rear of the Telegraph.
“Since I was a kid in Afghanistan I used to dream of having more because my family was very poor,” he said. “My dad wasn’t born poor; he actually came from a very wealthy family whose construction company used to build motorways and roads and factories for the government. My dad worked in the military and when the Taliban came everything went to hell. He couldn’t work, he had to hide who he was, so when my dad talked about having this or that, it sounded like a fairy tale.”
Things got so bad that his parents paid for him to come to the UK to seek a better life before, they later managed to relocate to Germany. The money he has managed to earn from boxing has been added to outside investments and parlayed into his new venture and the restaurant’s name came about because of his love of using eggs as a chief ingredient for his meals. “With eggs we can do a mix of Western and middle-Eastern food culture in one package, comfort food for everyone, nutritious, value for money, and ultimately it tastes good,” he said.
He added ;“For me, a perfect breakfast has to have an egg. I don’t care if it’s poached, scrambled, fried, as long as I have eggs my body is ready to go, and I can tackle the day ahead. Being an athlete I eat eggs as much as I can because they’re one of the most nutritious things out there, one of the easiest things to make, and one of the things you can have any time of the day.”
As mentioned above, opening a restaurant is tough at the best of times. This is the worst of times for people in that field, but Ahmad is up for the fight. “People have looked down at me all my life,” he revealed. “Those who are going to be sniffy about it won’t come, and that’s fine. If you put your nose in the air and think you’re too good for this place then we don’t need you.”
Eggoland is at 5-7 Tottenham St, London W1T 2AG)
Andy Lee (35-3-1, 24 KOs) has told his cousin Tyson Fury (30-0-1, 21 KOs) to be ready and waiting for a better version of Deontay Wilder (42-1-1, 41 KOs) if their October 9 fight goes ahead. Fury makes the first defence of the WBC title that he ripped away from Wilder in February 2020 and former WBO middleweight holder Lee has told theScottish Sun to expect more from Wilder this time around.
“I think it’s a very dangerous fight,” he said. “I think Wilder’s body will be fresh, so it’s a very dangerous fight. He’s got a lot to prove. He’s going to be very motivated for this fight.”
The rematch takes place at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas after it was initially pushed back when Fury and members of his team tested positive for Covid-19. Both fighters will have to shake some rust, but due to the current pandemic a lot of fighters have been in the same boat and heavyweights tend to fight less than most so we should expect a good showing from both fighters, as long as Wilder manages to come through his ring walk with his strength and legs intact.