By Paul Campbell
Cruiserweight champ David ‘The Hayemaker’ Haye makes his heavyweight debut against American Monte Barrett, in what will be the “most explosive” fight of his career this Saturday at the 02 arena in Greenwich.
The Bermondsey boxer claims he is in the “greatest shape” of his life and “cannot wait for the bell to sound” in London, his hometown. A former WBC, WBA and WBO cruiserweight champion who vacated these titles to pursue heavyweight glory, Haye believes Barrett is a perfect opponent for his first fight as a heavyweight.
“He’s the kind of guy who is beaten by the best in the division but manages to upset those that aren’t going to ever become world champions. This is a perfect measuring stick for how I will eventually do as a heavyweight,” Haye said.
Despite his remarkable record of only one loss in 22 bouts at cruiserweight, Haye recognises he must earn his reputation as a heavyweight: “I guess in Barrett’s mind I’m just a pumped up cruiserweight used to fighting guys who weigh only 14 stone 4 pounds.
Barrett has nothing to fear from me and that’s what makes this such an intriguing fight.”Having conquered the cruiserweight division in only 21 professional fights, 27-year-old Haye is keen to make his way to the top of the heavyweight pile with similar speed. His choice to fight Barrett was motivated by the desire to prepare himself for the current IBF, WBO and IBO heavyweight champion Wladimir Klitschko.
“Beating a load of bums will not prepare me properly for Klitschko. A fight with Monte Barrett will do that. If I beat him, boxing fans will start to realise I’m for real and that I pose a legitimate threat to Klitschko’s belts.”
The fight will begin at 11PM on Saturday, at the insistence of Haye, despite originally being scheduled for the early hours of Sunday. “Now my fans won’t have to stay up half the night for me to get in and do the job,” he declared proudly.
Haye had only one prediction for the fight: “He’s a good fighter but I believe I am superior in speed and power and have a good chance of knocking him out. I will be looking to give the fans exactly what they want.”
Haye v Barrett is live on Setanta Sports 1 from 9pm. O2 box office: 0844 856 0202.