Breaking down David Haye – Arnold Gjergjaj

By Boxing News - 05/11/2016 - Comments

hayeBy Stephen Wilkinson: David Haye (27-2, 25 KO’s) returns to the ring in the second fight of his comeback when he takes on Arnold Gjergjaj (29-0, 21 KO’s) on May 21st at the 02 arena in London.

Gjergjaj, ranked 23rd in the world by Boxrec, will be just Haye’s second fight in over three and a half years, with Haye having returned to the ring this past January 16 with a 1st round demolition of Australian Mark DeMori.

Haye’s journey down the comeback trail sees him jostle for position in what has during his injury enforced absence become an increasingly fascinating heavyweight division.

Quite where Haye fits in to this exciting new landscape will probably not be any clearer after his bout with former kickboxer Gjergjaj but having him active on the scene again will surely be entertaining as long as it lasts.

For Gjergjaj, Haye represents the biggest challenge of his career to date. Having turned professional in 2009 after an amateur career that saw him win 3 national titles in his adopted homeland of Switzerland, Gjergjaj has built a resume of 29 straight wins, albeit against questionable opposition. 2009’s knockout of Laszlo Toth in Hungary represents the only time thus far that Gjergjaj has fought outside of Switzerland. The most impressive win on his record is a unanimous decision over Denis Bakhtov in a defence of his EBU-EE heavyweight title. Bahktov is probably best known to fight fans for his 2nd round knockout loss to Anthony Joshua, although he also has losses to Manuel Charr, Alexander Ustinov and Vyacheslav Glazkov. Gjergjaj overcame a heavy knockdown in the fifth round to outbox Bahktov over 12 rounds, despite suffering from a broken hand and a burst eardrum. Other names on Gjergjaj’s record haven’t provided the sternest of tests with his most recent outing a 45 second knockout of Marino Goles.

Gjergjaj likes to fight in an aggressive manner and has a tendency to drop his hands low which are things that he will have to work on before he enters the ring against Haye. Against Bakhtov, he allowed himself to get trapped on the ropes before a two handed assault from Bahktov dropped him to the canvas. Such two fisted attacks have been a trademark of Haye in the past and is something that Gjergjaj will need to avoid in London.

Gjergjaj doesn’t however possess the jab or footwork that he will need to keep Haye at bay for 12 rounds. The best tactics for Gjergjaj could be to go for broke early and try to catch Haye with something big in the opening exchanges as he doesn’t have the tools needed to outbox Haye.

Gjergjaj, who has sparred with Wladimir Klitschko and Tyson Fury in the past, will be the overwhelming underdog against Haye although his height at 6,5’ and aggressive style could provide fireworks as long as the fight lasts.

Haye of course is no stranger to fighting big heavyweights. The former undisputed cruiserweight world champion won the WBA version of the heavyweight championship with a points win over the 7feet tall Nikolai Valuev back in 2009. Haye has little to gain by fighting Gjergjaj other than the opportunity to keep busy.

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Haye has said that he would like to fight more regularly than he has in the past. “I said I wanted to fight regularly and that’s exactly what I’m doing,” said Haye via “Fighting a big heavyweight like Gjergjaj has really got my juices flowing, taking an unbeaten fighters ‘0’ from him always makes the victory that much sweeter. Expect another explosive knock out. Every two to three months I want to be knocking somebody out and working my way back into title contention.”

That title contention is of course what the bigger picture is here for Haye. While a fight against Tyson Fury or a rematch with Wladimir Klitschko, should he overcome Fury in July, would appear unlikely, a future shot at IBF champion Anthony Joshua could be on the cards should Haye continue winning, which is precisely what will happen against opposition like Gjergjaj. A fight against Joshua would be a guaranteed blockbuster which could probably fill any football stadium in London and is surely what Haye is aiming towards.

What he will show against Gjergjaj is that he is in great shape, that he can still pull a massive crowd and that he remains a destructive finisher. Given his name recognition and past accomplishments that is all he needs to keep doing to ensure the big fights are just around the corner for David Haye.