Sport.co.uk cornered legendary boxing promoter and Arsenal fan Frank Warren to discuss the state of modern boxing, in particular the recent David Haye vs Audley Harrison fight and whether he thought the fight was always going to be a farce. Plus the always outspoken godfather of the British boxing fraternity tells us what he really thinks about Haye and who he should fight next.
Plus, Frank tells us exactly how much it hurts when his beloved Gunners lose to fierce rivals Tottenham Hotspur. Arsenal recently lost 3-2 to their rivals at the Emirates, having led the game 2-0…
Hi Frank, thanks for talking to Sport.co.uk. Well, Audley Harrison vs. David Haye was a bit of a let down for the fans, did you think it would be like that before the fight?
I did in my column in The Sun. I said it was never a race. To be honest I think I got it wrong because I didn’t realise how bad it would be. I thought Audley would have at least put up a fight, but he didn’t.
Frank sparring with X-Factor winner Shayne Ward
Do you think it was simply one last big pay packet for Audley Harrison?
He never threw a punch. I hope not. But he never threw a punch did he? It was dreadful for the fans. The first two rounds of that fight were probably the worst couple of rounds I’ve ever seen in a heavyweight fight. Neither boxer threw a punch.
What does that say for the heavyweight division in general? Are we just weighting for Haye to fight a Klitschko?
We keep saying we’re waiting but Haye signed to fight Klitschko about 18 months ago and then pulled out with an injury. Then he was about to sign for the other one, but changed his mind and fought Valuev. Since then all he’s done is talk about fighting. He keeps taking about the money, but he owes the fans a fight. He’s just got a big pay packet out of fighting, for want of a better word, a stiff.
That’s how Harrison looked. Now it’s time to payback the fans. As far as the fans are concerned, the only fight they want to see is a Klitschko. Whatever happens, David Haye has to fight one of them. Vitali is available to fight, they’ve said that. There’s all this nonsense about money. There’s is a pot there with 50-50 in it. It’s a big pot. How greedy do you want to get? Take the money, cut it down the middle, win that, and then you’ve done it and you can make even more money. There’s so much nonsense about who’s going to get what from Television money. The Klitschko’s have quite rightly said it should be down the middle. And remember, the Klitschko’s have been around a lot longer than David Haye.
Do you think Haye should have taken the fight on with Harrison?
What people forget is that Haye was not just the boxer, he was the promoter. He picked the opponent. If I’d been promoting the fight I would have got a lot of stick. His own company promoted it. He picked the opponent, and it was a voluntary defence. Everything about it was down to David Haye.
Do you think David Haye has actually damaged his reputation?
It’s damaged boxing. Boxing’s reputation is much bigger than David Haye’s. I don’t think it was a good night early on for boxing. Thankfully Manny Pacquiao redeemed us at the end of the night, and showed us who true fighters are and what true fighters do. David Haye now needs to get some credibility in the heavyweight division. No more of these hand picked opponents like Monte Barrett. This is a guy who started off saying he wasn’t going to fight fat old men.
He was going to fight the best. He fought Monte Barrett, he’s had Valuev, who’s probably the worst heavyweight of all time. He’s next one was John Ruiz, who’s without a doubt the second worst heavyweight of all time, and got beaten by former middle weight Roy Jones. Finally, there was Audley Harrison, who has never fought anybody in the top 20 in the world.
It’s not much of a legacy for him so far is it?
No. It’s good for his bank balance and good luck to him from that point of view. But you know what? You owe the fans now, so deliver!
Frank you are a massive Arsenal fan. Were you at the recent North London derby? What happened?
It went t**s up. We need to buy some quality players. I was very disappointed with Marouane Chamakh in the game. He missed open chances and didn’t seem rugged enough for me. Sebastien Squillaci and the other guy (Laurent Koscielny) don’t come across as real quality players to me.
Arsenal need to spend some money on players. The squad needs strengthening. For the last five years we’ve talked about youngsters coming through. A lot of the good youngsters have left us. For the life of me I don’t understand why we’re not capitalising on that. It seems every time Chelsea or Manchester United fall over, we never capitalise on that.
How bad is losing to Spurs for you?
It’s terrible. I was watching it and I just felt Harry would inspire his team in the second half. When they came out and got that goal, you could see from then on that it was all going to go wrong.
Frank Warren was speaking to Sport.co.uk at The Second Annual Nordoff Robbins Boxing Dinner “England vs Ireland.” Frank Warren received the The Nordoff Robbins Boxing Icon Award. For more information go to www.nordoff-robbins.org.uk