6 March 2008
David Haye writes exclusively for the 'News'
The final days before a big fight usually consist of various press meetings and conferences, open workouts, a weigh in, lots of questions and lots of hollow promises.
Many people preach the importance of 'fight week' as being integral to the eventual outcome of the fight. Yet, as in many cases before, the real talking - the important words, phrases and soundbites - will come via the punches thrown in the ring on March 8 at the O2 Arena. Once the real matters are settled inside the ring on Saturday night, everything that came before it - the questions, the rumours, the predictions - will turn to dust. They'll be forgotten as quickly as Maccarinelli will be dispatched on March 8.
I returned to England on March 3 pretty much oblivious to the attention the fight's been getting over here. I don't need to be told by hundreds of people how big the fight is. That's part of the reason I decided to train for six weeks in Miami for it. All I needed before this fight was my trainer, Adam Booth, and that's all I had. I didn't need dozens of other boxers around me talking boxing day in, day out as Maccarinelli will have had in Wales. My confidence is self-applied. It doesn't grow from the empty gestures of other people.
It is all well and good being around other boxers on a daily basis - running with you, sparring with you and giving you false tips and hints - but they can't help you in the ring. It's an often used saying, but boxing really is the loneliest sport in the world. Once we meet in that ring on Saturday night, nothing that came before it will matter. It will just be down to us. Enzo and myself.
I've been told there have been endless press releases coming from Maccarinelli's side accusing me of various things out in Miami. Spy avoidance tactics and struggling with the pressure were two of the accusations fired at me. As I mentioned before, though, the truth will come out on Saturday night. I didn't feel the need to question Maccarinelli's preparations. I didn't feel the need to ask where and how he's training. Why? Because I'm content within myself to know he's doing his thing and I'm doing mine. The fight's on now. I don't need to keep talking about Enzo or wondering what he's going to do on the night.
If anything, the interest in my preparation from Maccarinelli and his handlers makes me think something's lacking their end. Who knows? All I will say is I've boxed for world titles before - genuine world titles. I've boxed at the World Amateur Championships. I've boxed for England all across the world. I took a risk and fought in France on a Don King-promoted show against a Don King-fighter. I've left Britain from time to time. I've been the challenger. I've entered the ring first. Can Maccarinelli say the same? To be honest, boxing Maccarinelli in my hometown isn't that high on my scale of pressure situations.
As far as any bad blood between me and Enzo, there is none - at least not on my part. I have nothing against Enzo as a person and get on well with him away from the ring. I simply dislike what Enzo and fighters like him represent. I don't believe in protecting boxers via padded records and selling them to the public as something they're not. I don't believe in being content to hide behind a paper title and play a smoke-and-mirrors game with boxing fans. My main motivation for this fight is to prove a select few people wrong and expose them as much as I plan to expose Maccarinelli.
Once all is said and done, and I walk away from the ring with my titles, Enzo can pick himself up and go and dominate the cruiserweight division. I just need to prove a point this Saturday and the point will be proven.
Evander 'The Real Deal' Holyfield has been in Britain the past week and he's more my type of fighter. He is what boxing used to be all about. He took chances. He won the Olympic bronze medal in 1984 and then, in only his 12th professional fight boxed for the WBA cruiserweight title against Dwight Muhammad Qawi. Three fights later he added the IBF title to the WBA belt he won from Qawi.
Then, in only his 18th bout, Holyfield beat Carlos De Leon to gather all WBC, WBA and IBF cruiser belts. He dominated the division in 18 fights. I've managed it in 21. How long would it have taken Maccarinelli to do it if I hadn't offered him the chance on Saturday? He's already had 29 bouts, remember.
After Holyfield wiped the cruiserweight division out he moved up to heavyweight and did the same there. He won WBC, WBA and IBF titles multiple times and was considered the best heavyweight on the planet more than once. He achieved all that without ever weighing much more than 220 pounds - considered small for a heavyweight. When he first won the world heavyweight title from Buster Douglas, Holyfield weighed only 208 pounds - eight pounds over the cruiserweight limit.
Heavyweight is where I'll be once this fight with Maccarinelli is over on Saturday. Emulating Holyfield at cruiserweight and heavyweight has been my goal since I turned professional in December 2002. This fight with Maccarinelli is Holyfield's kind of fight. It's a gamble - a tasty fight on paper that has got everyone talking, predicting and interested in boxing again.
The sort of contest Holyfield would've taken without second thought in his 17th or 18th fight. If every boxer thought and acted like a young Holyfield, these sorts of fights would come round every year or so, rather than every 10 or 15 years as is the case now.
I'm doing my best to bring that kind of fight-all-comers mentality back to British and world boxing. On Saturday night I'm not only looking to dispose of Enzo Maccarinelli but also the resistance to that Holyfield mentality I'm talking about. I want to do things the right way. I truly believe a victory for me will be a victory for British boxing.
See you all at the O2.
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