Everybody has an opinion on David Haye. Everybody.
Whether it's the casual British sports fan, or the German media executive, everyone has an opinion.
What makes it interesting is that the person they know as "David Haye" isn't David Haye at all, but rather a media persona adopted by a man that shares that name and uses it to generate money and interest.
The real David Haye? I don't know him, I've never met him. Elliot Worsell, the author behind the book Making Haye knows him. Adam Booth, the trainer who has guided his career, knows him. We don't.
I've met David Haye the persona, at a book signing and at the weigh-in for his fight with Derek Chisora, I've even had a picture with the persona, sure, but I don't know David Haye the man.
We all saw a glimpse of the real man when he decided, rather strangely it seemed at the time, to enter the reality show I'm a Celebrity...Get Me Out of Here! in November. It has since become clear that he was using it as a platform to get the public back onside and then use said popularity to sell his fitness DVD and gather interest for any upcoming fight/project.
From an objective standpoint, I think he succeeded. Sales of his DVD have apparently been excellent (at least according to his Twitter feed) and comments left under articles about him seem far more positive than in previous times, where they were far more likely to make references to "broken toes" and brawls at press conferences.
We've all heard how he wants to eventually become an actor...Yes, I know. However, where does that leave his boxing career? He recently said, in an interview with Boxing News in the UK, that he is not interested in domestic-level fights with either David Price or Tyson Fury and that he is focused solely on beating Vitali Klitschko this year, and following it up with a rematch with younger brother Wladimir, who beat Haye on points in July 2011.
So how does this all apply to the title of this article, the one that evokes notions of glory and redemption?
Well, I believe Haye will beat Vitali when they fight this year, and they will fight. RTL—the Klitschkos' paymasters—want the fight, and the figures involved will be too tempting for the elder Klitschko to turn down.
In his prime, in the early 2000s, I believe Vitali would have beaten Haye in rather brutal fashion. Even in 2008-2009, after his comeback after four years out with the injury that cut short his prime, he would have outboxed Haye and won a comfortable points win. Now, he's 41 years old, and will be closer to his 42nd birthday in July by the time the fight happens. As witnessed in his fight with Haye foe Derek Chisora, he will have vast amounts of trouble with someone as fast as Haye.
I'll even go as far as saying that Vitali could even be stopped, for the first time in his career, as Haye isn't exactly a soft puncher. It is unlikely, but it isn't impossible—especially given Haye's KO of Chisora, who had never been knocked out before they fought either.
Sure, everyone would know he beat a vastly diminished, lesser version, but it is still a good version nonetheless. Nobody's going to say Haye could have beaten Lennox Lewis, but that's beside the point, isn't it? *
As for a rematch with Wladimir, it would happen without question if Haye beat Vitali. 100 percent. It's even in the mammoth contracts the Klitschkos like to write up. If someone beats one brother, they have to fight the other.
The fight would be more exciting then their first dull affair as they both now know they can take each other's shots. The first fight was one of mutual fear and respect for each other's notable power.
I would have to say Wladimir would rightly be favorite, and no doubt he'd probably favor a comfortable decision victory, but I think it would be much more exciting second time round. If it was, then regardless of the outcome, Haye would have earned the respect of the public once more—especially considering he'd have beaten Vitali to reach this point.
Would that mean redemption for David Haye?
I think it would.
* For the record, I think Lewis would have dealt with Haye the same way he would have dealt with Roy Jones Jr. had their proposed fight come off: by knocking him out rather cruelly!