03
Apr
10

Muhammad Ali’s trainer says Londoner can ‘light up’ heavyweight division

By Gareth A Davies, Boxing Correspondent
Published: 7:30AM BST 02 Apr 2010

Star quality: Angelo Dundee believes David Hay can revive a grey heavyweight scene
Star quality: Angelo Dundee believes David Hay can revive a grey heavyweight scene Photo: REUTERS

Haye must first see off mandatory challenger John Ruiz in Manchester this weekend, but his end game continues to be world unification contests with the Klitschko brothers, Wladimir and Vitali.

While Ruiz looks to emulate Ali by winning the world title for a third time, Ali’s esteemed trainer, now 88 and who worked with 15 world champions, including ‘The Greatest’, Sugar Ray Leonard and George Foreman, revealed that he watched the rise of Haye from undisputed world cruiserweight champion, to his victory over Nikolai Valuev to take the World Boxing Association heavyweight title in Nuremberg in November.

Dundee, speaking exclusively to Telegraph Sport, he believes the gamesmanship Haye shows, the flaunting of rules, harks back to the days of Ali, and his many stunts. The pair – Dundee and Haye – met several years ago in Miami, and the ageing trainer was immediately taken with Haye’s confidence in the ring when sparring, and his charismatic, risk-taking personality.

“It took me back,” said Dundee. “I love him and his boxing, and when he beat that beast from Russia I was delighted. I watched David when he trained in Miami Beach a few years back, and he is an exciting guy. He’s a breath of fresh air, and has lit up the world heavyweight division.

“That win over the Russian gave Haye great resolve. It really was David and Goliath. I thought it was exciting, and what he gained from that he can take on.”

Haye insisted in Manchester that he felt an immediate fondness for Dundee when he met him. “He’s never lost his love of the sport and was involved in a great era.”

Dundee said: “I’m very glad he’s around. I’m not making any comparisons because I’ve always felt you can’t compare one fighter with another, they all have a different outlook, but Haye is a new beacon in the heavyweight division. Fighters are different, and thank God for the difference.

“The great boxers used to emerge at the Olympics, and they became universally known. There is an anonymity about the heavyweight division today, the general public doesn’t know who the champions are. If they don’t speak Russian, they are in trouble.”

Yet Dundee insists Haye has the box-office appeal to re-ignite a dull division. “I’m happy he’s there, and has overcome his first obstacle in the division. We need him. What I like about him is that he is full of confidence, and when fighters are like that, as Ali was, they create excitement. We need new faces, new kids coming through in the heavyweight division to excite sports fans around the world.

“Look, we got spoilt by Ali and the thing is this, and I told that to all the newspaper guys at the time. They didn’t realise. We were not going to see another Ali, in our lifetime. You will never get that era again, but Haye could spark it up. Haye will knock out the younger Klitschko. I’m sure he will knock him out, but the older Klitschko brother is harder to fight. He plods with his left hand and he is hard to get to. The younger Klitschko Haye will have a great chance against. Every fighter has his time, and it may just be David Haye’s time right now.”

‘My View From The Corner’, Angelo Dundee with Bert Randolph Sugar, published by McGraw Hill.

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