Belfast Telegraph

Home Sport Boxing

David Haye's road back to top is getting rocky

By Duncan Bech

David Haye was berated by Shannon Briggs as a press conference to announce the Briton's next fight exploded into life with a heated verbal exchange between the former heavyweight champions.

Shortly after unknown Kosovan Arnold Gjergjaj had been revealed as Haye's opponent in the second fight of his comeback at The O2 on May 21, Briggs arrived complete with entourage to demand a showdown.

The 44-year-old American, who was stopped in five rounds by Lennox Lewis in 1998, shouted "who are you?" at the non-English speaking Gjergjaj before turning his attention towards Haye.

"Tell everyone why you're fighting him, who we've never heard of, instead of me? We need an answer. Let's go champ," Briggs said.

When Briggs was asked by Haye if he would pass a brain scan, in reference to being hospitalised following a brutal points defeat to Vitali Klitschko six years ago, the American replied: "Any time, any day. I'm in the best shape of my life.

"Haye's a chump. You've been hiding from me. I know I can beat you. Tell your country why you're fighting him and not me. He's scared of me.

"Don't believe the hype London, he's a fraud. Everyone should ask for a refund right now. I came to London to fight. Let's go champ."

Once Briggs had departed, Haye addressed the possibility of a meeting a fighter who has posted eight wins in low-key shows since falling to Klitschko.

"If he can pass his medical and he wants to fight on the undercard so we can see what he's got, then we can talk about it," said Haye.

"It's all well and good him screaming and shouting, but I don't even know if he can get a licence in this country."

Haye will continue his return after a three-and-a-half year absence that was partly the result of a career-threatening shoulder injury against Gjergjaj, who has won all 29 of his contests, but only one of those has been staged outside Switzerland.

It is a hard sell and seemingly a step backwards after January's first-round stoppage of Mark de Mori, who was at least ranked inside the world's top 10, but Haye defended his choice of adversary.

He said: "A lot of the guys in the top 10 want ridiculous money and there's no budget to get these guys," said Haye, whose ultimate goal is to face Anthony Joshua or Tyson Fury.

Haye revealed that 10 per cent of ticket sales from the fight will be donated to Nick Blackwell.

Blackwell has been in an induced coma since collapsing at the end of Saturday's British middleweight title defeat by Chris Eubank Jr.

"I believe Nick will make a full recovery, but after such a traumatic injury his boxing career is over," Haye said.

"It will be a dark and tough time for him when he comes around, so he could use all the assistance and help he'll get."

Belfast Telegraph

Popular

From Belfast Telegraph