By Frank Warren
Boxing is often no laughing matter, so fair play to the comedy channel ‘Dave’ for coming back for seconds and screening the latest episode of David Haye’s comeback on Saturday night. The more boxing that reaches people’s living rooms the better.
Let’s hope the joke is not on them, as the opponents scheduled for the latest instalment of HayeDay could well result in a bit of witty banter.
It is difficult to establish exactly where Haye fits in to the current heavyweight scene. From the sounds of it, based on his clubbing of the Aussie Mark de Mori in a couple of minutes in January, people are already talking about him being in the world mix with the likes of Tyson Fury and Anthony Joshua.
Definitely a case of insufficient evidence to proceed with those musings at the moment.
We know he can bang, and has bulked up to boost his power, but whether he still has the speed and stamina at 35 and after three years on the celebrity circuit is a question that his latest chosen ‘knockover,’ one Arnold Gjergjag (try saying that surname after a few mojitos) is unlikely to provide the answer.
On paper, Gjergjaj, like de Mori, has an impressive record, unbeaten in 29 bouts, but he’s toppled no-one of note so don’t be fooled by this.
The Kosovan, known as ‘The Cobra’ has based himself in Switzerland, a country more comfortable with pacifism that pugilism and I’ll be surprised if he offers up much venom in what could be another embarrassingly brief encounter.
Not that the O2 audience will care. As someone said, for the sort of party-loving punters he is attracting these days it is not so much a Big Fight Night but An Evening with David Haye.
No harm in that on this occasion as Haye says he is donating ten per cent of the takings to 25-year-old Nick Blackwell, who will not fight again after sustaining serious head injuries in his middleweight fight against Chris Eubank Jr in March. Good for him.
However I admit to being less than enthused about the undercard appearance of the 44-year-old Shannon Briggs. I understand the Board of Control ummed and ahhed about giving a license to the American greybeard who was given such a shellacking by Vitali Klitschko but has aspirations to be next on Haye’s hit list.
I hope it is not a decision they will regret, although it might have been had the fight prematurely announced for Briggs against Russian hard man Alexander Dimitrenko actually materialised.
It was all very odd. Former Euro champ Dimitrenko insisted he had knew nothing about the match, hadn’t even been approached and it certainly wasn’t kosher.
So Briggs, who has been out of the ring since last September when he stopped Michael Marrone inside two rounds in Florida, was handed Croatian Jakov Gospic, loser of 14 of his 31 bouts, eight of them inside the distance. That was also quickly a non-runner so in comes Argentine Emilio Ezequiel Zarate, 34, best remembered here as the man who was knocked out by Hughie Fury in the second round in Bristol back in November. Sounds like real Shannon fodder.
Over in New Zealand we should learn more about the young man who is said to be a Kiwi version of Anthony Joshua – without the Olympic or world titles. Joseph Parker (18-0), 24, fights an eliminator for Joshua’s IBF title against the Frenchman Carlos Takam, whose record suggests he is no patsy.
One of Takam’s only two losses came against Russian Alexander Povetkin, who was due to be a part of this weekend’s heavyweight cocktail, but was found to be over the limit on his now illegal tipple of choice.
His challenge for Deontay Wilder’s WBC crown has evaporated, as has the scheduled broadcast of the fight on BoxNation. However, as late replacements go, the Channel of Champions has come up with a more than worthy substitute.
We will now air a triple-header from the pinnacle of the super welterweight division, one which our WBO champion Liam Smith will be keeping a close eye on.
The Cuban Erislandy Lara’s WBA version of the title is on the line against Vanes Martirosyan, following a draw between the pair in 2012, while IBF champ Jermall Charlo faces former world champion Austin Trout. The American, incidentally, declined his mandatory shot at Liam Smith in order to make this date.
The other Charlo, twin brother Jermell, completes the world title treble by squaring off against John Jackson – son of the big-hitting Julian Jackson – for the WBC belt.
What a card in prospect for the connoisseur.
BoxNation coverage begins on Sunday morning at 2am