I used to think boxing was stupid because people had been brain damaged before. I’m willing to accept teenagers have been steered off the wrong path by cultivating prize fight dreams in London’s gyms, but in all simplicity boxing is just punching each other. Fighting.
Then I watched David Haye and Nikolai Valuev, drawn in by the ridiculous Shrek versus Asterix size difference, on Saturday night and realised it’s not always about punching each other. In 45 dreary minutes, hardly one of the hundreds thrown actually connected. There was hardly any punching each other.
Instead, we watched a really, really big man walk slowly round a square circuit, while a smaller man hopped about and ran away, only very occasionally succeeding with a jab into the giant’s chest. You see more action watching the ExxonMobil advert on Sky with the scientist man telling us about how much he loves the different colours of algae over and over again.
David Haye deserves a smiley emotico for being brave enough to step into the same room, let alone a boxing ring with Valuev, a fearsome King Kong character whose face looks like it’s been etched from granite. At 7 foot something, he’s been a boxing promoter’s dream for 50 odd fights, yet if the Russian didn’t earn lots of money from this gold-plated circus, you’d feel sorry for the way he is paraded about like a worthy opponent for a rumble with Godzilla.
By the end of the Haye fight, his big face was scrunched in a scowl, I did feel sorry for him, like when a henchman working for a meglomaniac Bond villain you secretly like gets eaten by sharks. Like Jaws. Or Oddjob.
Valuev had to give his world champion belt away to a man who had buzzed around him like a fly all night (the commentators said wasp, but I’m going with fly). I’m not down on Haye, I’m just still working out what kind of sport he is now the world heavyweight champion of. I think I’ll stick to writing about football.