Analysis: Haye looks good, but there are still questions to answer
By Alan Ross: David Haye beats tough, durable, worthy challenger John Ruiz impressively – or does he just beat up an old man who never really had much chance? Let’s dive a bit deeper into what we’ve learnt about Haye from his performance against Ruiz.
First of all, let’s get one or two things clear: Haye had to fight Ruiz, or lose his title. This was no handpicked opponent; yes, Ruiz is 38, but he came into the contest in good shape, and he is known to be an awkward customer who can take a punch and keep going. Whether he was truly worthy of being the mandatory challenger can be debated; there’s an argument that he’s moved from genuine danger to the top guys to being a respectable operator, but he was certainly an opponent worthy of respect by Haye, and by the Boxing World, and far from a sacrificial lamb. In many ways this was a good opponent for Haye to take, and a big step in his heavyweight education; however in reality Ruiz, who struggled to cope with the speed and ringcraft of Roy Jones Junior when both were a lot younger, was always going to struggle to get close enough to Haye to do real damage.
Haye’s punching power was evident, with several knockdowns of a guy noted for his ability to take a punch; then again, despite Haye’s comments afterwards, it showed that Haye cannot expect too many one punch knockouts when he’s in with good heavyweights. Vitali Klitschko in particular is unlikely to be taken out by a single shot by Haye, no matter how many other boxers might.
Haye showed very good hand speed, the sort that is likely to provide success against all but the most elusive of boxers. What he didn’t show enough of though in my opinion was the desire to throw combinations; against durable opponents like Ruiz proved to be, if you’re going to take them out you need to be landing punches in clusters. Haye looked content to throw one or two good shots, then move out of range again and see what the results were, when another couple of shots might have taken Ruiz out. Did the point deduction in the first round – due to Ruiz tending to turn away from Haye when he’d been hurt – make Haye a little bit more cautious about unloading combinations for fear of being accused of the Rabbit Punch again?
Ruiz did land some punches, but Haye never really looked wobbled by them; however one can hardly say that this answered the questions about Haye’s chin. Then again, Haye did enough to ensure that Ruiz – who did stand and fight as he’d said he would – didn’t have much chance to test his chin. Haye’s defence though wasn’t quite what it might need to be against a heavier puncher. Left hand down by the side, right hand near his head, he relied on his superior ring speed to keep him out of trouble; against a faster fighter than Ruiz, he will need to tighten up his defence.
Haye looked good overall against Ruiz, and has to be considered as a legitimate contender to the Brothers K; at the same time, my feeling is that Haye will need to raise his game particularly on defence if he’s to defeat either Wladimir or Vitali. That said, his speed and power was good enough to suggest that he has a better chance against either Klitschko than some of their recent opponents; I’d make either brother favorite against him, but he has already shown enough to suggest that any match would be far from a foregone conclusion.