Boxing legend David slays the giant to win world title

In the week leading up to the 2009 WBA heavyweight championship, a young South London boxer said he was going to make his contender, a 7ft-tall, 22st 7lb Russian look “silly”. He did not disappoint, writes Claudia Lee.

David Haye, the 29-year-old from Bermondsey, passed into legend status on Saturday, November 7, 2009, when he toppled the 7ft giant Nikolai Valuev from his world throne in Germany.

David Haye celebrating becoming the new WBA World Heavyweight

In a fight that divided judges – Mr Haye performed a magic act, battling through most of the 12-rounds with an injured hand.

After weeks of mind games, as well as meticulous planning for the toughest assignment of his life, the South Londoner slid, ducked, and jabbed his way to the win.

Boxing at seven stones and nine inches below Mr Valuev, he devised an ugly but brilliant plan of attack from the first bell to the last.

Nikolai Valuev was defeated by Mr Haye in 2009, losing his world title. Picture: Wikimedia Commons, Public Domain

The two fighters touched gloves and then, with his sister ringside, Mr Haye launched a meticulous pattern of swiping jabs and counter-clockwise movements to avoid his opponent’s huge right hand.

David’s sister Louisa, who sat ringside with her daughter Eliza and son Samuel, said: “As soon as Eliza saw Valuev she burst out crying because she didn’t think David could beat someone so enormous.

“But once the first round was over, we could all see he was going to be clever in the fight and he would be safe.

“When he won we all screamed with excitement and relief.

“My little brother is world champion. It’s a strange feeling.”

The South London Press also spoke with Mr Hayes’ mother Jane Haye after the bout.

She said: “It would be good if David could help the teenagers of South London and be an example to those who have not had the breaks in life that he has.”

Mrs Haye was 50 at the time, living in Catford and working as a librarian at London South Bank University in Elephant and Castle.

She said: “People over the years have asked me why I let him go in the ring but it has made him very disciplined in what he wants to achieve.

“I have heard him say boxing should be brought back into schools because it can help others in their approach to life.

“He has always been a leader and not a follower. And he has always been confident but never forgot where he came from.

Mr Haye announced his retirement in June 2018, at the age of 37

“We won’t ever move away from Catford because we love it here.”

Mr Haye announced his retirement in June 2018, at 37-years-old.

The boxer’s impressive 16-year, 32-fight professional career ended with two world championship titles under his belt, after suffering a defeat to Tony Bellew that year.


Pictures: PA Images

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