David Haye appears in a most understanding, personable state of mind just now, arguably more so than at any time in a career that has taken him to cruiserweight and heavyweight titles.
There is none of the trademark trash-talking which littered his rise up the ladder of both divisions and left many boxing fans vehemently opposed to the Englishman’s aggressive big-mouth approach.
For it really does seem Haye (26-2, 24 knockouts) is happy to accept his present position of being among the leading heavyweight contenders, rather than still having a seat at the top table, and is relishing the battle to win it back.
That begins on June 29 when he faces Germany’s Manuel Charr (23-1, 13 KOs) at the MEN Arena, Manchester. Haye, 32, has only good words for his Beirut-born opponent, particularly the way he has chased, harassed and stalked him, relentlessly, during the last 10 months to secure the fight. It has all the hallmarks of Haye’s own lengthy pursuit of Ukrainian RING champion, Wladimir Klitschko.
The south Londoner is impressed. He recognises those up and coming in the sport need to pull out all the stops, and do whatever necessary, to put themselves in the big-fight picture.
Indeed, Charr’s perseverance, which started immediately after Hayes’s fifth-round victory over Dereck Chisora last summer and has raged on Twitter ever since, is why the former WBA titleholder is taking him so seriously and expecting a stern examination of his title credentials.
“Manuel Charr is a rough, tough customer,” Haye said to TalkSPORT radio on Wednesday. “He’s been about a bit and fought Vitali Klitschko last September when he felt pretty hard done by. He got cut in that fight and Klitschko’s own doctor stopped the fight – in Klitschko’s favour. So he feels short-changed and that a way back to the world title is through me. I feel the same about him.
“He’s a funny guy. He’s been doing all the stuff I used to do when I was coming through. He had a T-shirt with him holding my decapitated head. He gate-crashed the press conference after I beat Chisora. He’s done all these little stunts to put his face out there and it’s worked. He’s got the fight, people are excited about it and he’s definitely coming to win.
“At the press conference he seemed really up for it. He thinks he’s going to cause an upset. You can see in some people’s eyes that, though they talk the talk, deep down they know the score. But this guy genuinely believes he can beat me.
“And he’s a strong guy, who has only been down once in 24 fights and never been knocked out before. He’s very durable.”
Talk about being respectful – and it was much the same when the subject of a possible future domestic dust-up with unbeaten Manchester contender Tyson Fury was raised. Haye claims Fury’s team has dodged one offer to fight him already and reckons they were right to do so.
“We heard in the press Tyson talking up a fight with me and thought great,” said Haye. “But when Adam Booth approached Tyson’s promoter Mick Hennessy, he had different ideas. He told us they were going down another route.
“That’s fair enough. Fury’s a young guy. He’s 23 and has a long career ahead of him. I don’t think he wants to cut that short by fighting me too early.”
Photos / Scott Heavey-Getty ImagesHa