By Ian S Palmer
British heavyweight David Haye returns to the ring for the second time after a three-and-a-half-year absence this Saturday, May 21st when he takes on unbeaten Arnold Gjergjaj of Kosovo at the O2 Arena in London, England. The 10-round bout can be seen live in the UK on the free Dave TV network. Haye decided to return to boxing to cash in on the sudden-popularity of British heavyweights such as Tyson Fury and Anthony Joshua. Haye realizes if he can win a few fights he might be able to land a big-money fight against either one of those two opponents in a huge domestic showdown. There’s a good chance he’d beat the overrated and overhyped Fury, but beating Joshua would be another story. Anyway, he’s get to get past Gjergjaj and then possibly Shannon Briggs first before landing any type of title shot.
The 35-year-old Haye is a former world heavyweight and cruiserweight champion who sports a record of 27-2 with 25 Kos. His comeback fight in January lasted just under a round when he blasted out 33-year-old Mark De Mori of Australia in 131 seconds in London. Haye’s two career losses came against Wladimir Klitschko in a dull unanimous decision in 2011 and a fifth-round TKO to Carl Thompson back in 2004. With 25 Kos in 27 wins it’s obvious that Haye possesses a lot of power in his punches and that’s verified by his knockout ratio of 86 percent. Even though he started out as a cruiserweight, Haye has decent size for a heavyweight as he stands 6-feet-3-inches tall with a reach of 78 inches.
Haye has boxed 119 rounds since turning pro back in 2002. His biggest wins have been against the likes of Jean Marc Mormeck, Monte Barrett, Enzo Maccarinelli, Nikolay Valuev, John Ruiz, Audley Harrison and Dereck Chisora. He fell short when he fought his one and only elite opponent in Klitschko, but blamed his mediocre performance on a foot injury. Haye prefers to stop his opponents, but has pretty good boxing skills even though he isn’t that hard to find and hit in the ring. Haye’s chin isn’t bad, but he has been rocked on several occasions during his career.
The 31-year-old Gjergjaj hails from Kosovo, but fights out of Switzerland. He has a perfect record of 29-0 with 21 Kos which gives him an impressive knockout ratio of 72 per cent. He turned pro back in 2009 and has 123 rounds under his belt since then. Gjergjaj is a good-sized heavyweight and a couple of inches taller than Haye at 6-foot-5-inches tall. However, his reach is unlisted. There’s no doubt Gjergjaj has some power in his punches, but it’s hard to recognize a single boxer on his list of opponents. His last outing came back in December when he stopped Marino Goles in the first round in Switzerland. Gjergjaj is currently ranked number 14 in the world by the WBO and 35 by the WBC and has fought outside of Switzerland just once.
Even though Haye has been quite inactive over the past several years he should still have enough left in the tank to take care of the bigger Gjergjaj on Saturday night unless he walks straight into one of his opponent’s shots. This fight is supposed to set up another quick bout against Briggs with the winner then likely getting a shot at somebody’s title. Haye is expected to win this fight and he should, likely by stoppage, but there could be some fireworks along the way if he gets tagged.