Steve Bunce Q&A: ‘Haye is the British boxing fairytale’

By Joshua Modaberi

boxing

We have already witnessed one huge fight this year in Manny Pacquiao’s triumph over Joshua Clottey, but David Haye’s clash with John Ruiz on Saturday is the first of a host of big fights featuring British boxers.

The weekend’s bout from the MEN Arena in Manchester will be Haye’s first defence of the WBA World Heavyweight Championship.

Then, Carl Froch, Amir Khan, Kevin Mitchell and Audley Harrison will all be in action over the course of the next month.

Floyd Joy Mayweather, Jr. could also potentially set up a super fight with Pacquiao later in the year if he is able to beat Shane Mosley in Las Vegas on May 1.

Then there is the return of former heavyweight Champion Evander Holyfield on April 10, and the will-he-won’t-he question still hangs over Ricky Hatton on the issue of him hanging up his gloves.

So, ahead of a big few weeks in the sport, The Sport Review caught up with boxing pundit Steve Bunce to get his views on the up-and-coming bouts and reaction to the latest news in the sport.

There are quite a few big fights coming up featuring English boxers, how would you assess each of their opportunities?
David Haye is the British boxing fairytale. He’s making millions and promoting his fight, but Ruiz is brilliant. Haye will get a Klitschko in the ring and he will give it a go and make a lot of money.

For Amir Khan, Paulie is an ideal opponent. He brings a big mouth, a good name and not a lot of danger. Amir needs to look terrific to help build the following.

Kevin Mitchell’s is a dream fight at his dream location. A boyhood Hammer fan in ring at Upton Park — that’s a fantasy. He can beat Katsidis with the same brain he used to beat Prescott. It will be a stunning night.

As for Carl Froch, this will be, by Carl’s own admission, a very, very hard night. Kessler is desperate to make up the ground he lost in the ring with Ward. This will be such an intense and fantastic fight. Carl can win and I just hope that he gets full credit for it.

And Audley Harrison. It’s the last time for the last time. Big Aud still attracts fans and viewers and that is something that we should never forget. He can beat Sprott and then he will get in a short line for a world title fight — he is as deserving as the recent list of American jokers.

A single man who puts £40’s worth of cocaine up his nose is somehow judged the worst offender! It is madness.

A couple of weeks back we saw Pacquiao beat Clottey, and on May 1 Mayweather takes on Mosley. If Mayweather wins do you think we will see the anticipated bout between Pacquiao and Mayweather?
Yes, yes and yes. Too much money not to make it happen. However, it has been sullied, it’s a bit dirty now and it will be an ugly fight to watch.

With Sky pulling out of showing the next Amir Khan fight, and ITV seemingly winning the rights to show the bout, do you think a World Championship fight from Madison Square Garden live on terrestrial television will be good for the sport?
Sky are not fully out, as far as I know, and ITV are not fully in, as far as I know. It would be great to have a fight like this on regular TV. However, there is not enough money in normal TV to make it permanent. Also, it’s in the MSG’s Felt Forum and not the main temple.

What do you make of tournaments such as Prizefighter and The Super Six World Boxing Classic?
I love both. Super Six is a saviour and it’s a disgrace that newspapers in the UK have not done their bit to keep it in the public eye. We’ve had great fights and there are more to come. Prizefighter is still fantastic when it is bad!

What are your thoughts on Mikkel Kessler getting a title fight against Carl Froch despite losing his title in his previous bout, could this be seen as a fault with the Super Six tournament?
Kessler is a great challenger in the grand scheme of things – it’s a plus with the Super Six because it means that Froch has to fight a fresh former champion instead of a bum like so many British world champions did in the dark old days. Froch’s four-world title fights form the greatest consecutive sequence of world title fights by any British boxer. That is a fact, trust me. He is a national treasure for his honesty in the ring and Mick Hennessy deserves a gong from the Palace for his contribution to sport!

Evander Holyfield is going to be making his return to the ring on April 10, how do you think Holyfield will cope on his return?
He will roll and rock and possibly win and could fight Haye later this year. Or, Hopkins. Or, Tyson. All freak fights, but that is the way the business works!

With Holyfield making a return do you think Ricky Hatton will come back to fight again?
Hatton will not fight again. He wants to fight, but he will be told not to.

Who are some up and coming British boxers we should be looking out for in the years to come?
Bradley Saunders and all the unbeaten little gang. Frankie Gavin is a genius, trust me.

It was recently revealed that since retiring from the ring, Joe Calzaghe has been using cocaine. Do you think that with a lot of high-profile fights coming up this could tarnish the sport?
No, no and no. This is 2010. Everybody needs to grow up. A man can gamble away the family house, cheat on his wife and kids, drink and batter his wife, but in our madly judgemental world a single man who puts £40’s worth of cocaine up his nose is somehow judged the worst offender! It is madness. This does nothing to harm the sport — however, be prepared for some people to claim that it does!

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