Thursday, November 8, 2007

Colonial War

Two big, big men in the "search and destroy" mode of fighter, both vulnerable to big punches themselves, in a fight against one another that's a dark horse candidate for fight of the year in 2007... sounds like something you'd wanna watch on TV, huh? No such luck, despite rumors that the MSG Network may broadcast it. When Jean-Marc Mormeck and David Haye do battle this weekend, you'll just have to imagine it in your head, then read about it afterwards.

Here's how it looks in my head:

Jean-Marc Mormeck is the acknowledged boss at cruiserweight (200 lbs.), the division just south of heavyweight. He is, more or less, a human battering ram. A French one. He splashed onto the scene in the United States when he toppled well-regarded Wayne Braithewaite in a rare unification fight by stalking him and hitting him until he couldn't take it anymore. Before that, he had quality wins over top-flight cruiserweights Dale Brown and Virgil Hill. When I saw him against Braithwaite, I thought, "I don't know how you beat a guy like that. He just keeps coming and doesn't care if you hit him." It was an appealing style, since most boxing fans want to see a lot of leather traded. Turns out the way you beat him is to push him off you and keep him at a distance with power shots, which is what O'Neil Bell did to him in 2006 in a fight of the year candidate that had numerous potential rounds of the year within. Bell stood up to the blows Mormeck landed then knocked him out late, but in a rematch, Mormeck overcame exhaustion and some moments where he was stunned to win a decision.

Brit David Haye is less of a grinder, but he brims with natural talent. He's knocked out 16 of his 17 victims. He's got a lot of speed, the thing he thinks will make him stand out when he makes a permanent move to heavyweight. When he hits people, it's like he erases them. He's young and fresh, but he's also been knocked out himself. But I've run into a problem here: I can't say much about Haye's experience, because he hardly has any major victories on his record. When your "best career win" is against a fighter who was 37 and had defeated no one of note and didn't turn pro until he was 31, I'm not terribly impressed. Knocking out someone in the first round in your heavyweight debut who'd lasted nine rounds against a more established heavyweight three years earlier is kind of neat, but again, it doesn't prove all that much much. That Haye fought at heavyweight earlier this year and had to shrink nearly 30 pounds to get back down to cruiser will resurrect long-held questions about Haye's stamina, although Haye says he's slowly shed the pounds over a five-month period.

That said, Haye's a dangerous man for Mormeck. Mormeck's 35. Haye is 27. Haye is hittable, but he could ably mimic Bell's successful formula of power + distance = Mormeck sleepytime. Mormeck can fight from a distance if he has to, but he's clearly more comfortable fighting on the inside, and he's going to have to walk through some big shots by Haye to do so. The briefest of contemplations of this dynamic reveals its inherent potential for drama. But since it's up against one of the two or three biggest fights of the year -- Miguel Cotto-Shane Mosley is also Saturday -- I suppose it would have been hard for a U.S. station to counter-program. I beg of someone to put this Mormeck-Haye thing on YouTube when it ends.

My prediction: Mormeck by late-round KO. Mormeck doesn't overwhelm people with one-punch power, but he does put a hurt on them over time. He's way more experienced than Haye, which I think will work to his advantage rather than his detriment. And it's unsettling the way Haye struggles to make weight and fantasizes about moving up to heavyweight. I think even if he's made the cruiserweight limit easier this time around, it's still a struggle and he doesn't much want to make weight anymore, which means he may be distracted and tired.
Confidence: 70%. No, I wouldn't be remotely surprised if Haye caught Mormeck with something big early and finished him off quickly. I just think it's significantly more likely that Mormeck's experience beats Haye's youthful assets and vulnerabilities.
My allegiance: Mormeck. What's not to like about a really good French fighter? Die, stereotypes.

Who said the French can't fight?


JimPanzee said...

Also he's bald and has great, fearsomely blond facial hair! Loyalty Mormeck. Prediction Haye. I'm batting .000 here. I thought Mormeck should have beaten Bell the first time around and I'm not sure his comeback victory was for real. (I didn't see the Sebastian Hill fight).

You're right of course about the unimpressiveness of Haye's record and I've never seen him fight. I just think that Bell revealed some flaws that Haye can exploit. Age is a factor. Neither fighter has seen the 12th round a lot but both have proven they can get there and win. I think both fighters will be going for the KO and I think Haye has a better chance at getting it.

Tim -- said...

Dude, I totally should've mentioned the blond facial hair. That's awesome, especially in conjunction with his bald head.

themcp-elsewiseknownas-kitchen said...

In answer to your photo-caption: Duke-fuckin'-Wellington, THAT'S WHO.

dammrod said...

My Prediction: Mormeck by decision. For all the reasons tim mentioned, and also because the fight is being held in France, which will be a very loud, hostile, and partisan crowd against Haye. I think people overrate Haye's KO victory over Bonin, a fighter I didn't even know about until he fought Haye, and an anonymous heavyweight in a moribund division does not a great opponent make. Not to mention that Haye was a heavier, stronger, less drained, and happier fighter at heavyweight. Now he has to come down. I think his fight before Bonin, the Fragomeni fight, is much more indicative of Haye's abilities. He had to work for a late round KO, and the light hitting Fragomeni even managed to stagger Haye a couple of time. Mormeck is stronger, faster, and more durable then Fragomeni.

Confidence: 60%. Mormeck is in the tail-end of his career. A lot of questions emerged after his two fights with Bell. Does he have the stamina? Does he have the chin? Does he still have the desire? I think he does, but both questions will remain in the air until he finally steps in the ring with Haye.

My Alleigance: Mormeck. I like both fighters, but if Haye loses he can easily blame the weight loss and move on to heavyweight. If Mormeck loses it may mark the end of his career, and Mormeck retiring will be a huge blow against the Cruiserweight division.

P.S. And what the Hell has happened to O'Neill Bell? He had the issue with the hatchet, and then his last fight was canceled because he was missing, and I haven't heard a single thing about him since. Is he lying in a ditch somewhere? Where is he?

BOB said...

I hate the French...but Mormeck will win by KO

Tim -- said...

themcp-elsewise-knownas-kitchen: You really think Wellington wouldn't give Napoleon credit for being ABLE to fight? Wish we could interview him because I bet he'd doff his cap at the French fisticuffsmen.

dammrod: Solid analysis, sir. All points salient. As for Bell, I'm sure he's up to something more creatively self-destructive than a ditch. Only Bell can dream up the stuff he'd do, though.

bob: What's yer problem with the French? They're friends with the Republicans again. You see the love between Bush and Sikorsky this week?

dammrod said...

tim: Haye often points to the first Bell-Mormeck fight as proof that he will beat Mormeck. His claim being that if a bludgeoning slugger like Bell can beat Mormeck, then surely a precise power-punching beast like himself would destroy the Frenchman. I find this to be faulty reasoning, because after watching Bell-Mormeck I again, it seems that a big part of the knockout was Mormeck punching himself out. He hurt Bell again and again, but Bell showed tremendous heart and kept coming back. If Mormeck can beat and hurt fighters like Braitwaithe and Bell then he can surely damage Haye, and Haye has yet to prove that he can bounce back from serious injury.

P.S. Bell is one bizarre man. First he claims that the ax "accidentally slipped" out of his hand and flew at his sparring partner, then he claims that he only had an ax as "protection against bears", and then he disappears off the face of the planet. How does someone go utterly missing before a fight? Surely his sparring partners, trainer, manager, promoter, friends, and family were watching him? Right?

themcp: Duke Wellington never beat Napoleon. The environment beat Napoleon. Prime-for-prime Napoleon was unbeatable. His two biggest losses were due to nature and terrain. Basically, Napoleon's defeats were due to God, and we would be hard pressed to find any mortal of his time who could beat him in a fair fight. Controversial? I know, but I live on the edge.

Tim -- said...

What quality comments people leave here. A history fight! In the comments section of a boxing blog! That's awesome.

dammrod said...

Wow! What a sensational fight! Too bad the powers that be didn't televise it in the U.S., but it seems that Mormeck seriously hurt Haye before Haye was able to bounce back and score the KO. Someone must post this on YouTube. It's only fair.