Credit: Jimi Manuwa via Twitter.
Fresh off of his impressive knockout victory over Corey Anderson at UFC Fight Night 107 last month, UFC light heavyweight prospect Jimi Manuwa has called out an unlikely next opponent – former WBA world heavyweight boxing champion, David Haye.
Despite reports suggesting that the 17-2 Londoner is close to agreeing to a bout with UFC light heavyweight champion Daniel Cormier, Manuwa recently told Ariel Helwani that he fancied his chances in a match against his fellow Londoner. “David Haye is a big name in boxing, and he just lost to Tony Bellew,” the 6’1 heavy hitter pointed out, suggesting that a fight between the two would make as much sense as the hotly anticipated Floyd Mayweather and Conor McGregor tilt.
The speculation intensified this week when the Express newspaper reported that Manuwa had spoken to Haye about the possibility of the match taking place under boxing rules at the O2 Arena in London – the scene of Haye’s stunning 11th round defeat to Liverpool scrapper Tony Bellew last month. “We spoke and David is all over it. I’m all over it as well,” Manuwa told the publication. “I’m concentrating on getting my (UFC) title shot as well but it’s a good thing having options.”
The 17-2 “Poster Boy” has had a remarkable change of fortunes since his brutal second-round knockout defeat to Anthony Johnson at UFC 191 in 2015, picking up back-to-back KO victories over Ovince Saint Preux and the aforementioned Anderson in his last two outings. Ironically, his recent form may actually lead to the postponement of a potential super-fight with Haye as the 37-year-old instead chases UFC gold.
For his part, despite losing convincingly by TKO to Bellew, Haye’s latter rounds in that contest were blighted by an Achilles injury he picked up on the night – effectively reducing him to being the one-legged man in an ass-kicking contest. As a result, the “Haymaker”, who returned from a four-year hiatus in 2016, is expected to rematch the Liverpudlian fighter before the end of the year, with the latest bet365 boxing odds having him as -275 favorite to avenge the defeat.
It looks as though a potential all-English super-fight will have to wait until at least 2018, then, which could well be a blessing in disguise. While a Manuwa vs. Haye fight would no doubt have widespread appeal in the UK, neither fighter has anything nearly resembling the star power of the McGregors and Mayweathers of the world; indeed, Manuwa has little recognition outside of MMA circles even in his home country.
If the Londoner were to hold the UFC light heavyweight championship, though, and Haye were to be coming in on the back of a rematch victory over Bellew, the fight would make a lot more sense from a marketing and promotional point of view – and possibly go even further than Mayweather vs. McGregor in settling the classic MMA versus boxing debate.