David Haye meets horses Kauto Star and Denman
It surely has to rank alongside the oddest of odd sporting photos.
David Haye, Kauto Star and Denman. One world heavyweight boxing champion and…two horses.
You can imagine the conversation leading up to the occasion.
Marketing man number one: “We’ve been building this Kauto Star v Denman clash up all season. We need something big to give it a final push.”
Marketing man number two: “Well I’ve got to sell Haye’s defence of his heavyweight title. It’s big but it’s not against a Klitschko.”
Marketing man number one: “Hold on a minute. I think I’ve got an idea…”
And so yesterday world heavyweight champion Haye yesterday found himself posing with his WBA belt for the cameras stood between leading Cheltenham Gold Cup candidates Kauto Star and Denman.
Haye, on a trip to trainer Paul Nicholls’ stable, even managed to draw a boxing analogy for the forthcoming Gold Cup battle, comparing it to the 1974 Rumble In The Jungle.
“I’d say Kauto Star was like Muhammad Ali, and Denman, who is massive, is like George Foreman,” he said.
“Kauto’s brilliantly talented and flashy like Ali, whilst Denman’s a real slugger like George Foreman.”
Haye also admitted he had “never been to the races” but this minor detail was obviously not going to hinder the plans of the marketing gurus behind the photo opportunity.
Not since Usain Bolt appeared on stage alongside singer Paolo Nutini (of Ã¢â‚¬ËœNew Shoes’ fame) to promote his new running shoes before the 2008 Olympics had an odder combination been seen.
After Haye had been prepped on the Ã¢â‚¬Ëœwhich-horse-is-like-which-boxer’ comparisons he went on to enthuse about the condition of the animals.
“This is the first time I’ve been up close,” he said.
“I’m obviously interested in sport and athletes at all levels. When you see the horses, with their muscles rippling, you can see they are very special. There is an aura about them. They are like athletes.
“These guys are getting themselves in peak condition for their big match so there are some big similarities between us. Sport needs rivalries and this [the Gold Cup] will definitely be one of them.”
Haye can be congratulated on his efforts to promote the mandatory defence of his title against John Ruiz on April 3.
Meanwhile Kauto Star and Denman will face each other on March 19, each looking to win their second Gold Cup.
Haye refused to be drawn on who he thought would win the race though (although it’s not clear what horse racing knowledge he was expected to base his opinion on).
However, if his earlier comparison is looked at it was Ali who beat Foreman in Zaire in 1974.
Is that a clear indication Haye is backing Kauto Star? Prepare for his odds to tumble.