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Three heavyweight comeback kings Haye seeks to emulate

Lee Gormley | January 14, 2016

Heavyweight kings that returned to the ring

Former WBA heavyweight champion David Haye makes his awaited return to the ring this weekend to face-off against Australian challenger Mark De Mori in London, as the bulldozing Briton has further title success firmly in his sights.

David Haye Press Conference - O2

In the brilliant, yet brutal, sport of boxing, many fighters have been unable to finally call it a day and hang up their gloves, with the legendary Roy Jones Jr a prime example of such unwillingness from his earlier demolition at the hands of Enzo Maccarinelli last year.

The heavyweight division has witnessed many high-profile comebacks, most of which have ended unsuccessfully, with the likes John Ruiz, Evander Holyfield and Larry Holmes all tasting bitter disappointment in their returning search for further glory.

Although, there have been rare cases of returning heavyweight triumphs, and it’s something ‘the Hayemaker’, who is 6/1 with Coral to stop De Mori in the first round, will look to emulate come Saturday night.

Muhammad Ali

On what the returning British bruiser has dubbed ‘Haye Day’, the now 35-year-old will seek to emulate the heavyweight heroics of legend and widely-regarded greatest fighter of all time Muhammad Ali.

Books AP History

Ali, formerly known as Cassius Clay, graced the canvas with his unrelenting punching power as well as incredible speed and dazzling movement around the ring, unrivalled qualities which saw him win his first world title at just 22 years of age by stunning Sonny Liston in 1964.

Three years later, the ‘the People’s Champion’ refused induction into the US Army due to his religious convictions and was subsequently stripped of his WBA title and license to fight, fined heavily and sentenced to five years in prison, which he later remained free from.

Upon his punishment, Ali famously declared: “No, I am not going 10,000 miles to help murder, kill, and burn other people to simply help continue the domination of white slavemasters over dark people the world over. This is the day and age when such evil injustice must come to an end.”

In 1970, though, with the loophole that there was no state boxing commission in Georgia, Ali returned to the ring to stop Jerry Quarry in three rounds and finally return to heavyweight glory.

Ali then went on to enjoy one of the most remarkable careers in history, with intense rivalries with Joe Frazier, George Foreman and Leon Spinks particularly historic, and is still regarded for his meaningful values both in the ring and out of it to this day.

George Foreman

Another to have made a gallant return to the ring to once again become world heavyweight champion was one of Ali’s fiercest rivals, Foreman.

George Foreman

‘Big George’, after securing an Olympic Gold medal in 1968, went on to knockout then-undefeated Frazier five years later to lift the heavyweight strap in Jamaica. The heavy-hitting Texan made two successful title defences following his triumph, but lost to Ali in arguably the most famous match-up in history.

In ‘the Rumble in the Jungle’, Foreman was halted in the eighth round by the unwavering figure of Ali, and retired from the sport after a loss to Jimmy Young in 1977. He then returned to action incredibly a decade later, eventually regaining the heavyweight championship at 45 years of age by stopping 27-year-old Michael Moorer.

Foreman is still the oldest heavyweight champion in history for his late 40s heroics, and second only to Bernard Hopkins in any weight class, with Haye seeking to make a similar impact on the division after disposing of De Mori (odds-on 1/10 for KO).

Vitali Klitschko

Before assuming office as a member of the Ukrainian parliament, older brother of Wladimir Klitschko, Vitali, was a devastating heavyweight champion with his only two ever career losses coming by stoppage after a shoulder injury and badly cut eye, despite leading the scores in both.

Germany Klitschko Peter Boxing

Klitschko holds the third-best knockout-to-fight ratio in the division’s history, behind only Rocky Marciano and current champion Deontay Wilder, with his immense power and possession of a doctorate earning him the nickname ‘Dr Ironfist’.

In 2005, during his preparations for a bout with Hasim Rahman, the Ukrainian powerhouse suffered further injury setbacks, this time snapping his anterior cruciate ligament, forcing him to retire and vacate his WBC crown.

Although, the WBC conferred “champion emeritus” status on Klitschko and he was granted as as mandatory challenger if he was ever to comeback to the ring, which, of course, he did four years later.

The older Klitschko sibling returned to challenge then-champion Samuel Peter for his former strap, ultimately dismantling his younger Nigerian opponent over eight rounds to once again reign supreme.

Britain’s Haye is hoping to enjoy a similarly successful return to competitive action this year, but is 9/1 to taste a stunning upset at the hands of De Mori this Saturday night. ‘The Hayemaker’ has outlined his desire to contest compatriot Anthony Joshua in what could be a thriller, with the heavyweight world titles firmly back in his mindset.

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