Haye vs Harrison is Foreman vs Ali all over again!
By Fantana: Back in October ’74 the world witnessed what was deemed impossible, the defeating of George Foreman at the hands of one Muhammad Ali. These days Ali is held in such high regard by grumpy old men and people who don’t understand boxing that he is largely seen as the best boxer ever, and the heavyweight that would beat all others to within an inch of their life. At the time of the ‘Rumble in the Jungle’ however, Ali was seen as no match up for Foreman. He was supposed to be too old, too slow, totally buggered. George Foreman was just 25, with huge punching power in both hands which had seen him conquer Joe Frazier in just two thumping rounds a few months prior to his bout with Ali.. Obviously a real man, such as myself, is able to objectively and without bias look at each fighters merits and understand that no fighter is unbeatable, and had I been around in ’74 I would have picked Ali, no question. With these undeniable abilities I am able to decipher the outcome of the Haye vs Harrison bout and raise poignant similarities between ‘The Rumble in the Jungle’ and ‘The Best of Enemies’.
Article posted on 16.09.2010
1) OLD VS YOUNG
Ali was seven years older than Foreman, and supposedly coming to the end of his career. So much so in fact, it was meant to be Ali’s last fight. He said himself that he might even retire win or lose against Georgey boy, the same thing Audley says about November 13th. Because of the age difference Ali was written off even before the first bell had chimed and this is exactly the same situation Audley Harrison finds himself in against David Haye, except he is nine years older than the current WBA Heavyweight Champion. These days the word ‘old’ has been rebranded, for women they are now milfs or cougars, in boxing preferred term is ‘mature’. With this added maturity Audley Harrison has the ability to draw on past experiences and use them to his advantage, just like Ali did. Due to his youthful haste Foreman went out as he always did, all gung-ho, wore himself out recklessly and was dispatched with a few slaps to the chops. Surely Audley Harrison, with his extra wisdom, will pick a game plan that will work against David Haye, and take him by surprise, in a non-gay way.
2) GOOD VS EVIL
Not many people know this, but Foreman learnt his stare down from the tough as nails Sonny Liston who he trained with back in the summer of ‘69. Liston said Formean was the only man able to back him up because George was such a tough son of a bitch, tougher than even Phil Mitchell. Foreman had the added sense of menace because of his punches, the fashion in which he disposed of opponents and the fact he owned a terrifying German Shepard which he used to scare people with for giggles, he was a real mean bastard in them days. How does Haye compare to George Foreman of ‘74? Well, he is the champ, batters people with devastating power in both hands, and has upset people and become the bad guy because he said such nasty things as ‘ it is going to be as one-sided as a gang rape’. In effect he has set himself up as the bad guy, while Audley Harrison recites poetry he made up himself, just like Ali. Anyone who performs poetry is inevitably a good guy, someone to be supported and someone who often has to prevail over malicious entities which are out to hurt them, just like Adam Sandler in ‘Mr. Deeds’.
3) PUNCHER VS THE BOXER
Quiet often in boxing the phrase puncher versus boxer crops up, usually when the other guy can’t punch for shit like Paulie Malignaggi. Whilst Ali had some pop in his punches he never solely relied on power and redefined heavyweight boxing with his blend of jabbing, movement and leaning on the ropes getting punched. Foreman on the other hand was a total puncher, just a muscular man who relied on his brute strength to punish victims who were unfortunate enough to get walloped with his big fists. The similarities between Ali and Audley are endless. Olympic Gold medallist, those breath-taking combinations he puts together, that magnificent jab, the man just has some serious skills. A-Force is able to fight on the outside, jabbing and moving, but unlike a lot of heavyweights his size, he fights splendidly on the inside with his use of uppercuts and shortens his punches to perfection. Let us not forget his left hand either, which has bought him twenty knockouts, but he also has the smarts to know when to have a rest and pace himself accordingly, which why he didn’t throw a punch for two minutes in the opening round against Dominic Guinn. Haye, as we have seen numerous times, has stamina issues bought on by his over enthusiasm to punch people’s faces, and whilst he has learnt to control himself somewhat he is always susceptible to becoming totally knackered, just like young George.
4) MIND GAMES
This is an interesting observation I am raising here, and I would like to point to the similarities displayed to the build-up of both fights. Firstly, Foreman was supposed to intimidate Ali, he was younger, stronger, undefeated. Yet, in the build up to the fight, he always seemed distant, uneasy. He complained it was Africa, he kept getting bitten by bugs and shit, but it was actually the fact that Muhammed Ali had gotten under his skin and had beaten him where it really matters, in his mind. Foreman was so unsure of victory he tried to have the fight called off. Now, if we look at Haye in his previous bouts he is 100% confident, funny and charismatic. But against Harrison he has said he didn’t want the fight but basically had to take it because he didn’t want to turn down millions of pounds. In the head to head at the press conference when his gaze was met by Audley’s you could literally see David Haye’s eyes water, his Adams apple moving frantically as he choked on his words, and as Elvis would say, he was all shook up. Has Audley Harrison intimidated David Haye so much that he is no longer himself? Perhaps this is why he has reverted into being uncharacteristically unfriendly, spouting things in the media which have damaged his wholesome image of a good looking fellow who happens to be the World Heavyweight Champion, instead of some bloke who threatens to gang-rape opponents. Also, Foreman hated being away from home, like Haye hates being away from his mansion in Cyprus. Word on the street is that David cannot stand the cold, and it is going to be a very cold night for him in November.
Prior to defeating the pre-grill Foreman in Zaire Ali had never held a meaningful title for seven years since being stripped of the world championship for refusing to become a war hero, and he was not allowed to fight during his prime years. This meant we never truly saw the peak Ali, and we have never yet seen a prime A-Force who hasn’t been a real champ since he captured gold in Sydney, but now I feel it is his time. Just like Ali in’74, Audley has suffered some losses, but has got himself back on track and ready for Haye. Remember, Britain looks upon him fondly; he is the only man to represent Britain and win Olympic Gold at Superheavyweight. Lewis snubbed Blighty to represent Canada, but came crawling back in the end. A-Force has his critics but in thirty years when they make a film about his life he will be portrayed as the hero that he is, probably by Will Smiths kid. This will all start when Audley gets the respect he deserves and that world title, in fascinatingly similar circumstances to Ali in Zaire. We cannot ignore the element of the crowd who will largely be rooting for Audley, and dare I say there will be loud chants of “Audley, batter Haye” just as Zaire chanted “Ali bomaye!” What will this do to Haye’s already shattered mind-set? We only need look at Foreman in ‘74, sprawled out on the canvas looking up at his conqueror to find out.
Boxing always produces upsets and the unexpectedness of what can happen when fists hit chins is what attracts people to the sweet science. The odds maybe stacked against him, but I really cannot see David Haye getting a victory over my all-time second favourite Heavyweight Audley Harrison. This fight just has ‘Rumble in the Jungle 2’ written all over it and will go down in the history books in the same manner as its spiritual predecessor. The stars have aligned to permit Audley Harrison to sparkle and fulfil his destiny, what he was born to do, that nothing but a victory for A-Force is a possibility. Whenever a big fight takes place, especially for the World Heavyweight title, people inevitably speculate about what might happen and what factors will play apart during the contest. We often read how a Klitschko bout is inevitably compared to a past Lewis bout, but rarely have we been able to compare a bout to Ali vs Foreman. Finally though, we can, and I just have.
Yours in manliness,
About the author – Fantana is a 25 year old retired adventurer from Stoke-on-Trent, and is currently growing a moustache.
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