Haye continues comeback with Gjergjaj bout, Briggs faces stand-in Zarate on undercard
Lee Gormley | May 19, 2016
David Haye v Arnold Gjergjaj
- Heavyweight fight
- Saturday, May 21st
- Scheduled for: 22:00 BST
- O2 Arena, London
- Live on Dave
Haye meets Gjergjaj in latest bout
After comfortably stopping Mark de Mori in the opening round of his return fight, David Haye will continue his comeback to the heavyweight division this Saturday night when he faces Kosovo-Albanian born Swiss fighter Arnold Gjergjaj at the O2 Arena in London.
‘The Hayemaker’ showed no signs of rustiness when dispatching Australian De Mori in January and will look for a similarly rampant showing on another fight night in the capital, against an undefeated opponent who is set to make his UK debut.
When the opening bell sounds, Haye (27-2, 25 KOs) will be start as the overwhelming favourite, and the former heavyweight world champion is 7/2 with Coral to record a second successive first-round knockout against the Switzerland-based ‘Cobra’.
‘Hayemaker’ expects bigger threat from ‘Cobra’
With his comeback fight having been halted in just over two minutes, Haye is now expecting visiting Kosovan-born challenger Gjergjaj (29-0, 21 KOs) to present more of a threat than previous foe De Mori at the O2 Arena.
“He’s a lot better. He’s got longer reach, is heavier and I expect him to tick all the boxes,” stated the Londoner.
“I’m expecting a tough 10-round fight. If I get a quick knockout then great, but I’m not preparing for it.
“I don’t really get fearful from boxing. I’ll figure things out when the first bell rings and I get out there and get a feel for him. I’m excited that so many people are coming and it’s going to be a good show.”
Coach McGuigan praises rejuvenated Haye
The former WBA title holder was out of the sport for three-and-a-half-years ahead of his last bout, before that stopping Dereck Chisora within five rounds at Upton Park in 2012, and his new trainer Shane McGuigan has praised his revived work ethic and ongoing progress.
“His reactions and everything are constantly picking up and speeding up,” said McGuigan. “When you’ve been inactive like he was for three years, you can’t just expect to train for three months and suddenly be firing up so for us, it’s a work in progress.
“We’ve been in the gym non-stop and he’s enjoying his training, which is the most important thing.
“When he’s happy, he’s eager to learn and he’s in the gym with George Groves, Carl Frampton, Josh Taylor and Conrad Cummings. He’s buzzing.”
‘The Hayemaker’ will enter the ring this weekend at 9/4 to overcome Gjergjaj within rounds 4-6, while the 31-year-old unbeaten challenger is 16/1 to cause a huge upset, as he comes into this bout on the back of his own opening-round KO over Croatian Marino Goles in December.
Briggs bout on horizon for Haye
Former world champion Shannon Briggs (59-6-1, 52 KOs) has been on the trail of a showdown with Haye in the UK since arriving from America, and the latter confirmed that the pair will meet later this year if both are successful on Saturday night.
Before Haye stars in the main event, 44-year-old Briggs was initially scheduled to take on former European champion Alexander Dimitirenko and then Croatian Jakov Gospic, but the loud-mouthed New Yorker will now contest Emilio Ezequiel Zarate (20-16-3, 11 KOs) instead.
The veteran fighter is on an eight-fight winning streak going into his maiden appearance in the UK this weekend, having returned to the ring in 2014, four years after being outpointed by now-retired Vitali Klitschko to miss out on the WBC heavyweight crown.
Haye, who is 13/2 to earn a points decision in his scheduled 10-rounder against Gjergjaj, is confident of setting up an encounter with Briggs but isn’t overlooking his next opponent, as he admitted any slip up would cost him all he’s worked for during this comeback.
“At this stage I can’t afford a loss. I’m 35 years old and every fight has to be perfect, so I can’t be getting injured or losing. Time is ticking away,” declared the two-weight world champion.
“Anthony Joshua is 10 years younger than me. If I want to become world champion I can’t take a couple of years to work my way back. I can’t allow myself to unravel or come unstuck at this stage.”
A stunning defeat at the hands of little-known but unbeaten Gjergjaj on Saturday would undoubtedly derail Haye’s chances at another future crack at a world title, and the rejuvenated ‘Hayemaker’ will be out to flourish in front of his home crowd and edge closer towards that target.
Watch David Haye knockout Mark de Mori in the first round of their bout, during his return to the ring in January.