A Brit of alright
The Panel - Messrs Watt, McCrory, Piper and Nelson - are drooling at the prospect of a new heavyweight champ.
Last Updated: 19/02/10 5:43pm
David Haye stands on the verge of heavyweight glory.
The Hayemaker will take on giant WBA champion, Nikolai Valuev, in Nuremberg on November 7, live on Sky Box Office.
As ever, the Sky Sports team of Jim Watt, Glenn McCrory, Nicky Piper and Johnny Nelson, will be on hand to give you their expert opinions come fight night, but first skysports.com has brought the panel together to set the scene...
SKYSPORTS.COM: We're no strangers to big fights on Sky Box Office, but here we are talking about a world heavyweight title - and one involving a British fighter. How good is that?
NICKY PIPER: Oh, it's fantastic. When I started getting into boxing it was about 1973 and I was seven and Muhammad Ali was right at the peak of his game. Everyone knew who he was and I followed the end of his career just as closely, the fights with Leon Spinks and Trevor Berbick and then on to the Larry Holmes era. Then I remember the lull we had then, which is similar to what we have been through recently, until Mike Tyson came along and blew everyone away in 1985/86.
And I really do think David has the potential to do just what Tyson did back then. He is relatively small like Tyson was, but has the speed, power and accuracy. Put him on one of those punching machines we sometimes see on Soccer AM and neither would probably hit as hard as the big heavyweights, but the fact they hit so much faster makes them devasating. I think there is a long-term plan in place for David to light up the heavyweight scene and he can - he is a good-looking kid, he talks well and has plenty of charisma. The fact that we are sitting here now talking about the heavyweight world title again, with a British fighter as well, says it all. I think we're on the verge of something very exciting.
JIM WATT: It's brilliant! The last time we were talking about this was with big Lennox - and that seems a long time ago. As I have said earlier, I would've liked to have seen David have a couple more fights to establish himself as a heavyweight, but he clearly fancies himself as a world champion. I hope he does it and I hope he wants to stick around and really rule the division, because that is what boxing needs - and British boxing as well.
When I was growing up and even fighting, everbody in the country knew who the heavyweight champion was. No-one could tell you who the middleweight champion was but everyone knew the name of Muhammad Ali, Sonny Liston, Larry Holmes and even Mike Tyson. The heavyweight division just has that magic about, that mass appeal. The problem is since the Americans haven't done so well, that has suffered, but I do think David Haye has a real chance to be the next big thing, I really do. He'll take anybody on, he's rarely in a dull fight and he wants to entertain. When was the last time you could say that about a heavyweight champion?
GLENN McCRORY: The heavyweights have always been boxing's big draw and it's great that here we are, after so long, talking about a British guy fighting for the world title. The first Christmas present I remember getting was this little projector that had Joe Louis fights on. I also had some tapes of Ali fights and used to sit in my bedroom for hours watching them.
Then I remember Muhammad Ali-Joe Frezier and the Rumble in the Jungle and all Ali's predictions and words - and that got me hooked on boxing. We do fabulously well for such a small country and are a force to be reckoned with, but we haven't really had one big heavyweight name, apart from Lennox Lewis. If David can pull this off and actually topple the giant, he will go on to be a superstar - and I don't just mean here in Britain.
JOHNNY NELSON: Like Jim says, just brilliant. Honestly, I want David to win so much; one, for British boxing and two, because down the years I have warmed to him. He has a lot of balls, has taken a helluva lot of stick but has always done it the right way and has got the results. I think he is the sort of charatcter that, if he comes through this, can light up the division. We all remember Muhammad Ali but until he came along, the heavyweight division was pretty dull, but he lit it up.
The way he spoke, the way he fought, you either loved him or loathed him - but he got you talking. Ever since then, we have all been fascinated by the heavyweight champion and it's so good for the sport in this country to be sat here talking about one of our own becoming world champion. It would be a massive boost to boxing and inspiration to the other heavyweights out there that if you want it, if you don't just love the fame, but love the game, you can succeed. There is nothing like a heavyweight title fight for excitement and profile and I am so pleased for David - and for us here at Sky - that we are going to see a British fighter involved... with a genuine chance of winning and going on to bigger things.
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