Haye vs. Maccarinelli: Knockout Or Knockdown?

By Rahul Deb: There has been no shortage of praise for David Haye following his knockout victory over Enzo Maccarinelli. Comparisons are already being made between Haye and Holyfield (perhaps they should fight) and the speculation over his future heavyweight career has begun. The praise being showered on Haye is clearly deserved even though referring to him as the future heavyweight champion does seem somewhat premature. While taking nothing away from Haye’s performance I cannot help but ponder the events of Saturday..

Bernard HopkinsThe pundits had predicted that if Macca was able to take Haye into the middle rounds he might be able to expose Haye after he tires. Early on, although Macca looked extremely tentative he was able to land a few short left hooks that seemed to be having effect. This caution was perhaps not ill advised given Haye’s explosiveness early on and his home crowd advantage. Round 2 seemed to be a different story. Haye began to be time Macca with the overhand right. While Macca seemed to dealing well with powerful right early on, with just over a minute left in the round Haye landed a concussive right that sent Macca crashing into the ropes.

This is where I feel the boxing fans were robbed off what still could have been an exciting fight. The ropes clearly held Macca up and referee John Keane should have stepped in and rightly call it a knockdown. Macca did not seem particularly hurt as was demonstrated by his ability to pull himself back up to his feet using the ropes, at the same time trying to defend himself against a barrage of punches. By not ruling it a knockdown, Keane ensured that Macca could not use the mandatory eight count to regroup. Instead while off balance and trying to pull himself up, he got caught by a left and a final right which sent him down and reeling across the ring. Haye did nothing wrong as there was no reason for him to back off if the ref did not choose to intervene.

There is no boxing fan who has not seen a fighter come off the canvas to win a fight. In fact, Haye himself was knocked down against Mormeck in round 4 only to rise, survive the round and knock out Mormeck in the 8th. While not claiming that Macca could have done the same, it seems tragic that poor refereeing denied him the opportunity to become the Unified Cruiserweight Champ after months of intense training and preparation. Whether he could have come back or not is irrelevant. There is a reason why boxing needs officials to enforce the rules. Referees do instruct fighters to protect themselves at all times, however, they have a responsibility to protect them as well and ensure that the fight is fair. I felt nothing but anger when article after article, offered plaudits to John Keane for stopping the fight at the right time and not allowing Macca to continue.

Maccarinelli did the classy thing and not complain either about the knockdown or the stoppage. He did get caught after all. Haye did the right thing and kept throwing punches. The HBO commentators rightly pointed out the knockdown. The boxing community however seems to be ignoring this abject display of officiating. Although, referees too are only human, I hope Mr. Keane knows that I am not impressed.

Article posted on 14.03.2008

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